Bungee jumping participants in South Africa have dropped dramatically following the near-death accident of an Australian tourist in Zimbabwe last month.
“Between 50 and 100 people who signed up have cancelled and have directly cited the Victoria Falls accident,” said Braden Touhey, general manager of the Bloukrans Bridge jump in Plettenberg Bay.
“We estimate that at least three times that amount have cancelled because of the accident, but not cited a reason.”
The Bloukrans Bridge jump is operated by Face Adrenalin, a company that helped to set up the Victoria Falls bungee jump in 1993.
In response to their involvement, Face Adrenalin’s website reads: “We no longer have any interest in this operation.
“People are now under the impression bungee jumping is dangerous. The public needs to know why this particular jump failed so that confidence can be restored in bungee jumping as a sport.”
Before soaring off the Bloukrans Bridge, jumpers are inundated with reassurances from the bungee crew.
They watch crew members tie the latex thread cords around their ankles and listen to a continued chorus of “you are completely safe here”.
Touhey said overt safety measures had always been protocol for Face Adrenalin.
“We are not just putting on an act after the accident. Safety first has always been our philosophy.”
Erin Langworthy, the Australian tourist whose cord snapped at Victoria Falls, told the US talk show Good Morning America the jump operator gave her no warning anything dangerous could happen.
Clement Mukwasi, Shearwater Adventures spokesperson, said they were investigating.
“We have suspended bungee activities for a week to conduct a full investigation. We should know what happened within a few days.”
Face Adrenalin, which is one of two bungee operators in SA, said if bungee cords were replaced regularly, accidents were rare.
“When you use a car often, the tyres get worn down,” Touhey said.