The following excerpts come from an article on HotelInteractive.com, which featured information from a recent ATTA study on adventure travel, as well as quotes from President Shannon Stowell and Vice President Chris Doyle:
“Adventure travel has come a long way in the last few years,” said Shannon Stowell, president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, speaking at the New York Times Travel Show last week. “Ten years ago, it was, who let the hippies in the building?”
The segment is important for hoteliers because not every adventure traveler wants to spend the night in a tent.
Adventure travel represents an $89 billion market globally, according to research the ATTA commissioned from George Washington University and Xola Consulting. People take about 150 million adventure trips a year, both with operators and on their own.
The association, which counts among its members hotels and resorts, tour operators, tourism boards, service providers, defines adventure travel as having three components: physical activity, cultural immersion and the outdoors. Travelers can engage in rigorous activities including snorkeling and diving, to less rigorous volunteer tourism to birdwatching.
The study, which surveyed 855 respondents in the three largest outbound markets – Europe, North America and Latin America – found that 26 percent of respondents indicated that they participated in adventure travel activities and 16 percent of all international departures from these three regions were for adventure travel.
“It was surprising to us,” Stowell said of the later figure. “We expected the number to be lower, but that’s the case.”
The research found that “adventure travelers place a higher importance on exploring new places, time to be in nature, meeting and engaging with local cultures and pushing their physical limits.”
Further ATTA coverage in the article included:
Chris Doyle, vice president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, said destinations can reshape the way tourists view them by marketing themselves as adventure tourism destinations. Some operators are getting creative, combining activities such as biking in the morning and wine tasting in the afternoon.
In a survey of more than 100 tourism boards, 85 percent now recognize adventure travel as a standalone sector.
“This industry has come together,” Stowell said. “Adventure travel has now entered the minds, the budgets and the lexicon of tourism professionals, whereas years ago that was not necessarily the case.”
Glorida Guevara Manzo, Mexico’s secretary of tourism, said in video comments at the travel show that tourists to Mexico have an appetite for adventure travel.
“The travelers now are experienced, they are experts and have information from the web, and when they come to the country they know exactly what to do and where to go, and they’re asking for experiences that we didn’t offer before.”
She emphasized that Mexican President Felipe Calderon supports the effort.
“We’re very lucky to have a president that is very committed to adventure travel,” she said. “That’s a priority for the boss, the president, and it’s a priority for everyone.”
Adventure travel appeals to travelers’ interest in eco-tourism, and they seek companies with an authentic commitment to the practice. Stowell said adventure travel companies obviously are in business to make money, but also to practice sustainable tourism.
It’s a key marketing message.
“We’re a force for good in the world,” he said. “Once you go on these trips, it changes you forever.”
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