AdventureTravelNews

Wall Street Journal Article & Response – “Adventure Tours Lighten Up”

ATTA’s work with influential media continues. In case you missed it, the 18 July, 2007 edition of

The Wall Street Journal – in which the ATTA contributed – carried the following article:

Adventure Tours Lighten Up

Low-Impact Itineraries
Offer Guests an Escapee
Without Big Workoutt
By HANNAH KARPP
July 18, 2007; Page D4
It’s also available online here.

While the article suggests a softening of adventure travel, the ATTA maintains that it is more of a broadening of the industry. Shifts in the physical exertion and activity levels is more the result of both consumers who are themselves shifting interests and of the industry, which continues to creatively develop new product opportunities that meet travelers’ ever-changing and subjective views of what “adventure” represents to them.

The ATTA recommends that when speaking with the media about the “softening” of adventure, that across the industry, we try to show that most shifts are a reflection of consumers’ hunger for education, learning and more introspective and life-dream-fulfilling experiences versus simply an “aging” issue. In fact, as a general rule, people over 50 are living longer, healthier and leading more fit lives – and now, they have the time to explore a wide array of adventures, be it physical or cerebral in nature.

Tom Hale, Founder and President of Backroads (ATTA Member), took the time to provide another perspective on the WSJ piece.

Re: “Adventure Tours Lighten Up”, Wednesday July 18, 2007
~ Backroads

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the recent coverage of our new Insider program in the July 18, 2007 edition of your paper on page D4. I’d like to clarify and expand on Ms. Karp’s article, which has left readers with an incorrect picture of what is happening in the Active/Adventure travel world and more specifically, why Backroads is offering Insider Trips.

The article leads readers to believe that existing active/adventure travelers are “lightening” up. Quite the contrary, among our growing number of active travelers are more bikers and hikers than ever who want truly epic trips with a healthy dose of activity. In fact, as mentioned in the article, Backroads travelers have increased over 15% in 2007 versus 2006. Backroads is responding to this interest with trips that are more active than ever with our new trips in Argentina, Slovenia, Budapest to Krakow and mountain trekking in Peru.

So why are we offering Insider Trips? Because there are many travelers who are looking for the enriching travel that Backroads is known for but with less activity than a 50-mile bike ride or a 10-mile hike. We are not moving away from our core active travel business but adding an alternative to our more active trips. Why is Backroads doing this now? We feel strongly that our existing world-class ability to offer the most flexible active vacations will translate into a better Insider experience for travelers than is currently available. Our passion for delivering authentic and flexible vacations is hardwired into the core of Backroads’ DNA. Authenticity and flexibility will be provided in spades on Insider Trips.

The article mentions “Backroads and others face growing competition in Europe from bus tour companies such as that operated by popular travel show-host Rick Steves.” We do not consider bus tours as competition as our guests are simply not interested in seeing the world from behind a bus window. Our Insider Trips will be decidedly different than your typical bus tour.

Finally, with respect to “the shift is partly a reflection of industry leaders themselves are tuckered out.” I for one am not tuckered out and either are my dozens of 40- to 50-something friends who’ve moved from golf to biking and other more active pursuits. My passion for active travel is as great as ever. I personally enjoy 3 or 4 Backroads active trips each year and my favorite event of the year is our annual staff ride/hike. Last year 120 Backroads leaders and staff rode and hiked from Budapest to Krakow. This year 180 of us will travel to Northern Thailand and explore this amazing region by bike and by foot—a fitting celebration for a company who’s culture embodies the active lifestyle.

Best regards,
Tom Hale
Tom Hale Founder and President

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