Inaugural White Water Summit Unites Global Rafting Community

20 November 2019

The first World White Water Rafting Summit of the International Rafting Federation (IRF), held 8-11 October, 2019 in Costa Rica, successfully united the global rafting industry with agreements for stronger safety measures and environmental protection. Learning from mistakes and making plans for a safer future were the action points attendees took into the Summit. But the goals that developed during the Summit itself were much more ambitious. Bold action plans emerged that aim to reduce risks to commercial rafting clients, improve the safety for all tourist white water activities, and engage with rafting clientele across the globe as frontline eyes and ears to monitor the impacts of climate change.

More than 200 rafting leaders from 20 nations around the world attended the Summit with the objective of exchanging knowledge about risk and safety and to guarantee a successful future of rafting.

  • A bold new pilot for accrediting commercial rafting operators will make choosing rafting operators simpler and safer for tourists
  • The U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica gives a thumbs up to a safer rafting industry
  • Historic rafting trip on the Pacuare River of more than 200 people at the close of the World White Water Rafting Summit sent a message in favour of river conservation
  • Binding agreement signed by the International Rafting Federation (IRF) and International Rivers for river conservation
  • Organisers declare the first World White Water Rafting Summit as hugely successful and agree to hold the conference every two years with rotating locations
  • The Summit receives the Costa Rica Ecological Blue Flag in the category of Special Events
“This Summit is important for the international rafting industry because we are discussing and sharing information on issues such as risk management, safety, environmental conservation for rivers, the importance of clean water, and reforestation, as well as training, education and certification of guides,” said Rafael Gallo, IRF Honorary President and event organizer.

The Summit closed with a symbolic rafting trip of 200 people, entitled “One World, One River, One Family,” on the Pacuare River. The trip united for the first time 16 rafting companies from all over Costa Rica, with 57 guides and 150 paddlers in 37 rafts and 12 kayaks, to send a message that Costa Rica is a safe destination for adventure tourism, and that rafting guides and operators act as important guardians of the world’s rivers.

The IRF plans to hold a World White Water Rafting Summit every two years.

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