Adventure Tourism: Growth And Trends
The industry moves 230,000 million euros per year in travel
The adventure is one of the fastest growing segments in recent years despite the economic turmoil and furthermore, adventure destinations are top earner traveler to other tourist categories. But the rapid growth represents both an opportunity and a danger, as recognized by specialized companies.
Until recently, adventure tourism was considered a small niche in the tourism sector.
But today it has become an increasingly international business, with an estimated global turnover 263,000 million annually, according to estimates by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), an organization that represents more than 300 specialized tourism companies 69 countries.
These companies operate in very different fields, from adventure activities considered extreme to other suitable for all audiences.
And the adventure is a difficult activity to catalog but also “more and more destinations are trying to position itself in this segment because they recognize their ecological, cultural and economic value, “according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO).
Defining Adventure Tourism
In fact, ATTA defined as adventure tourism that trip (with a minimum overnight stay) including at least two of the following three elements: physical activity, environment and cultural immersion.
Under this broad definition two basic categories can be set “hard” and “soft” adventure tourism (hard and soft).
Climb Everest, an experience that costs 42,000 euros per person (including travel, hiring sherpas and climbing permits) clearly falls into the first category; while sign up for an archaeological expedition, go fishing or rafting down rivers would be considered soft activities.
Impact on Destinations
Another fact that draws attention about the adventure tourism, is the economic impact of it. As noted by WTO from reports provided by the UN, 65.6% of the total cost of a trip is adventure tourism visited destination.
Instead, according to the same sources, this percentage would reach 20% in Caribbean vacation destinations specializing in all-inclusive resorts, being dominated by foreign companies (tour operators, hotels and airlines of foreign capital) and which also must market paid imports of food and other products to meet travelers just out of the all-inclusive hotels.
Moreover, the average expenditure of a tourist adventure is 2,600 euros and travel have an average duration of eight days.
Source of Adventure Tourism
In addition, 69% of international travel for adventure tourism has its origin in the source markets of Europe, North and South America. 71% of travelers leaving the US organized the trip on their own, without resorting to travel agencies or tour operators.
Adventure travel can range from extreme activities to other suitable for all audiences.
Destinations, increasingly concerned with these figures is not surprising that more and more countries want position in this segment.
For example, before 2007, 52% of national tourist offices surveyed by ATTA considered adventure tourism as a sector with little interest in tourism policy strategy. This figure has fallen sharply to 8% today.
Moreover, ATTA has detected four main trends among tour operators specialized in this segment:
- Activities increasingly “soft” are offered;
- Trips are customized;
- Increases the demand for multigenerational groups; and
- There is greater interest in living cultural experiences.
For Shannon Stowell, president of ATTA, these trends confirm that the market is expanding into new layers of society. However, “this rapid growth represents both an opportunity and a danger.”
And according to points Stowell, “because the adventure has its main assets in the natural and cultural heritage, this activity can be used as a model to create, develop and sustain profitable business and prosperous destinations following criteria sustainable tourism “.
At the same time, he adds, there are challenges such as
- Climate change,
- Environmental degradation,
- Habitat loss and cultures,
- Poverty linked to these phenomena…
Adventure Tourism at the End
“The tourism industry can give their best to combat or prevent these issues or negligence, may cause even further damage. There are many examples of destinations that have been commoditized and devalued, some of which never come to fully recover”.
Therefore, he concludes, adventure tourism should aim to ensure the inclusion of local communities in projects and ensure that sustainability is not an empty concept.