Adventure tourism is one of the fastest growing travel segments in the world, hitting a global value of US$263 billion in 2013, TTG Asia reports. This represents a massive increase of 195% from 2011, a new report by the UNWTO says.
The UNWTO Global Report on Adventure Tourism, published in collaboration with the Adventure Travel Trade Association, is the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s first approach on adventure tourism.
“This report provides critical insight into one of the most dynamic segments driving tourism´s growth,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “Furthermore, with careful and responsible management, adventure tourism offers effective development opportunities to countries looking for new and sustainable sources of growth.”
“This report signifies UNWTO’s recognition of adventure tourism’s contribution to the sustainable future of tourism,” said ATTA President Mr. Shannon Stowell, who provided a summary for the report. “It provides a background underlining the potential for destinations around the globe that are looking for ways to create sustainable economic tourism models protecting people and places.”
Growth in the segment is buoyed by rising access to travel, increasing disposable income and demand for experiential travel, the report states.
Another adventure tourism trend is the rise in supply, as destinations train adventure travel companies to support local people and as destinations incorporate adventure into their brand identities, as in the case of New Zealand’s 100% Pure New Zealand. Tour operators are also capitalising on the trend, as TUI and Carlson Wagonlit Travel launch subsidiaries to provide adventure travel options.
The report dissects four types of adventure activities – skiing, cycling, trekking and surfing. It notes that skiing is a mature activity that spans the adventure spectrum from off-beat locales to popular destinations, with dedicated resorts and facilities to the activity.
Surfing could likewise follow the trajectory of skiing and become available to mass-market tourists and develop specialised resorts. Surfing also opens up non-traditional destinations that could eventually lead to non-surfing tourists to visit as well.
Tourists are also dispersed to non-traditional destinations through the eco-friendly activity of cycling, spreading the fruits of tourism to more local areas. As a result, destinations investing in cycling infrastructure will reap benefits.
Trekking is touted to be the most resilient in the face of economic uncertainty. Such tourists usually stay in a destination for longer but spend less per day, yet they enter local and regional economies.
The 80-page report also covers what adventure tourism is, industry structure, local economies, communities and the environment, operational standards and certifications, risk management and sector challenges, opportunities and initiatives.