Czech ‘danger’ tour company hits back at Icelandic ire

Adventura, the Czech tour company whose bus rolled into a lake last weekend in the Icelandic highlands, has sent out a statement defending itself against accusations of misconduct and reckless driving.

As reported previously on IceNews, Adventura has come under a storm of pressure following accusations that its tour guides caused an avoidable accident last year and got their bus stuck in mud when illegally off-roading. There have been suggestions that the bus accident last week could also have been caused by speeding.

Now the company’s managing director, Peter Novotny, has sent out a statement of rebuttal; thanking Icelanders for their help and saying his company adheres to strict safety guidelines. Peter’s letter is published below, in whole and unedited:

Dears,

few days ago there was an accident of our vehicle in Iceland. We would like to express sincere apologies to Icelandic people and nature and we would also like to add a few comments to this event.

We would like to give respectful thanks to all citizens of the Republic of Iceland who helped us in the past few days and who offered their help, facilities, heat, clothing and meals to our clients during the rescue. Our thanks also belongs to all people who provided us with accommodation in their own hotels and houses, who helped to pull out luggages from the car. We thank everybody that allowed the transport to the airport and the smooth boarding (supporting documents issued by our embassy) to the aircraft, provided our clients with the refreshments on board and we really felt their human support. Also, we warmly thank you all who helped with extrication of the car from the bottom of Lake Blautulon and covering the traces on the shore. We felt a real value of friendship and human help, which we try to provide when travelling around the world for more than twenty years.

Since the 90’s we have showed – first by buses, then with smaller off road cars and thereafter the fourth seasons with Tatrabus – your beautiful country to hundreds of tourists, nature lovers, photographers, flora and fauna experts and geologists etc. From the beginning of the operation of our company, we have focused on emphasizing on such forms of tourism that are both friendly to the environment and as well as to local cultures, ethnic groups and religions. We deeply regret what problems the accident has caused in the park.

All our staff, guides and drivers have pure and cordial relationship to the Icelandic nature. They also have their own friendships all around Iceland. They all know your history, natural beauties and can talk about it for hours. Anyone ever needed to help, they helped without the right to publicity. Last year we helped 5 cars which got stuck or get into serious troubles. Our tours to Iceland have an economic importance for your country, of course. We annually pay more than 100.000 € for services and our tourists spend tens of thousands. We are the largest customer of your national airline Icelandair in the Czech Republic. We advertise your country in a number of slideshows and traveler programs, we are preparing further projects. We do really love your country and we really appreciate it.

We would like to summarize the whole course of the accident:
On Saturday 06/08 2011 at ten o’clock in the morning, after 3 nights spent in a camp, our tour started along the road Landmannalaugar F208 SW heading for Skaftafel. At noon we got a 2-hour break in the program with a walk and snack at the waterfall Ofaerufoss. Here our guide was addressed by a local park ranger who adviced and marked him in a map a very interesting tour through the newly opened area. He recommended to our quide to go to the stunning views of the place where there was possible to take approximately an 1-hour climb to not a very high hill with an attractive passage along the edge of Lake Blautulon. The above-mentioned road has not a number, but the map is marked with that passage over the edge of the lake. Our guide bought two maps from the ranger for 500 ISK, he showed him the way and advised two options which way to go.

According to the recommendation and description from the ranger himself they continued to the edge of the lake Blautulon where they saw traces of vehicles which were there before. They drove the entire passage without any problems. Then, half of the participants with the other driver got out at the end of the ford and the rest agreed that they will repeat the passage. When taking the passage for the second time the left front wheel unexpectedly sunk into the substrate and tatrabus swerved into the lake. Floating for a while, but then it began sinking rapidly. Our guide began the evacuation of all clients on board immediately.

During the evacuation there were no serious injuries and our guide immediately launched rescue operations and moved customers to the safety. Next 72 hours all our attention and care were given to our clients, we were communicating with their families and all who wanted to know the details about what really happened. While cooperating with the headquarters of the national park we tried to extricate the vehicle as quickly as possible without doing minimal harm to the fragile Icelandic nature. The CEO of our company has immediately gone to Iceland. Meanwhile, we confirmed we would pay all the costs connected with the extrication of the vehicle and entire cleaning of the remaining traces around the lake Blautulon. We also immediatelly confirmed we would pay all the expenses to Icelandic Red Cross as well. Most of the financial resources have already been sent.

At the same time we have noticed quite an unexpected wave of negative comments from the Icelandic media and citizens. We did not get any space or chance for any explanation or defense. Our promotional videos and spots have been stolen and misused. Our pictures are deliberately modified and real blow below the belt is suppossedly a quick wade of our vehicle across the river. The original image over the swollen river while our tatrabus actually helps to pull off another car is interrupted and modified. We are portrayed as a problematic agent. A number of comments is beyond polite expressions, they are vulgar and often xenophobic.

We understand the indignation of Icelandic citizens and in any case we would not allowed to doubt the seriousness of the situation and we are really very sorry that the accident occurred. We will do everything that a similar situation in the future could never be repeated.
Nevertheless, we consider our condemnation as unfair and incorrect.

Petr NOVOTNÝ

Adentura managing director

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