Adventure tourism used to be a small, niche segment of the travel industry. A recent study by George Washington University measured this market for the first time and found that adventure tourism is a huge draw for today’s travelers. The rapid growth of this travel trend is particularly exciting for Amble, since our mission is to connect travelers with their natural and cultural environment in spectacular destinations around the world. I found a great article illuminating this development and its implications in the popular travel blog Gadling. Their piece shows how the adventure tourism market is already dwarfing other travel segments thought to be mainstream:
“That brings the total market value for adventure travel to $142 billion in 2009. In comparison, the cruise line world market share is estimated to have a value of about $27 billion.”
What is adventure tourism? Glad you asked. According to the US-based Adventure Travel Trade Association, it is any tourist activity including two of the following three components: a physical activity, a cultural exchange, or interaction and engagement with nature. Once thought to be only for unwashed backpackers willing to endure hardship and discomfort to get an authentic experience, now adventure travel attracts a much more mainstream group. Well-heeled professionals, romantic couples and sporty families all want more adventure, nature and culture from their vacations. From Gadling again:
“Adventure travel clearly isn’t a niche market any longer, and what was once the purview of dare devils and thrill seekers, is becoming all the more appealing to mainstream travelers too...
…The ATTA says that the typical adventure traveler is 36 years old and spends between $450 and $800 per vacation, excluding their airfare. They are also more likely to hold a passport, and are generally more educated and affluent than the ‘typical’ traveler.”
Amble Resorts put out a press release on adventure travel a few months ago. Two quotes from it:
“According to a 2008 survey conducted by the Travel Industry Association of America, nearly one half of US adults, or 98 million people, have taken an adventure trip. That’s because the industry isn’t just catering to gutsy thrill-seekers anymore. Resorts now provide a wider array of activities targeted at mainstream travelers, a market that includes increasing numbers of two-income families, childless couples, single adults and members of the growing aging population.”
“‘Adventure tours have gone from 16 percent of passenger volume in 2001 to 50 percent for advance bookings this year,” writer Kirk Johnson said in a recent story in the New York Times… Industry mainstays are responding enthusiastically to this energetic trend. Disney has launched its “Adventures by Disney” line of family-centered adventure tours. Hyatt now offers its “Adventure Hyatt” line of services at 18 resorts. Marriott, Rosewood and Starwood, all successful mainstream hospitality companies, are getting on the bandwagon by providing their customers with more adventure opportunities. This evident commitment to serving this growing tourism segment indicates a widely held belief that this is no passing fad, but a trend with longevity.”
Disney? Marriott? Hyatt? Have I convinced you this is a major travel trend yet?
Of course, the more mature, affluent adventure traveler we’re talking about isn’t going to sleep in a hostel or eat trail mix their entire vacation. That means that regardless of whether you’re a giant in the industry like Marriott or a boutique original like Amble Resorts, you need to provide the kinds of things your customers are likely to desire above and beyond the adventure element. That’s exactly why Amble is creating our resorts, that are not only about creating luxury, but luxurious immersion in the nature and culture of exceptional places.