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Adventure Travel Industry Launches Global Benchmarking Standard to Gauge Adventure Market Competitiveness

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Index Includes Feature Adventure Destinations Assam, India and Peru

(SEATTLE, WA) – October 2, 2008 – The Adventure Travel Trade Association, in collaboration with The George Washington University and Xola Consulting, Inc. today announced the launch of the Adventure Tourism Development Index (ATDI), an assessment and marketing tool to support entrepreneurs and governments developing and marketing sustainable adventure tourism.

The ATDI and its supporting Feature Adventure Destination (FAD) program is an important initiative through which partners hope to mobilize the global adventure tourism industry around a competitive market standard. The ATDI standard is designed to support the creation of competitive markets that are sustainable and drive benefits for communities and the environment. In 2008, Feature Adventure Destinations Assam, India and Peru commissioned in-country, in-depth qualitative assessments and marketing support from the ATDI team to apply the its 10 Pillars approach and demonstrate their commitment to sustainable adventure tourism market development.

The ATDI benchmarks countries according to its 10 Pillars of Adventure Tourism Market Competitiveness, factors shown to be necessary for competitive, sustainable adventure tourism:
1. Government policies supporting sustainable development
2. Safety
3. Infrastructure
4. Natural Resources
5. Cultural Resources
6. Adventure Activity Resources
7. Entrepreneurship
8. Humanitarian/ Human Development
9. Health
10. Image

As a new industry standard, the ATDI’s 10 Pillars of Adventure Tourism Market Competitiveness are helping reshape the global perception and understanding of adventure tourism as a viable means of fostering entrepreneurship and economic development.

Recognizing the important differences between competitive mainstream tourism markets and competitive adventure tourism markets, the ATDI emphasizes different aspects of market development more heavily – for example, the importance of entrepreneurship, a factor crucial to sparking business development in rural areas. In emphasizing different aspects of development, the ATDI offers tourism destinations an alternative way of looking at market potential and investment and development strategies. For travelers and tour operators, the ATDI signals destinations where there may be untapped potential for adventure travel.

The ATDI organizes countries in two categories: Developed and Developing. The 2008 ATDI, whose benchmarks feature 27 Developed Countries and 164 Developing Countries, revealed top countries for competitive adventure tourism according to the sustainable criteria in the 10 Pillars:

Top 10 Developing Countries: Estonia, Chile, Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, Hungary, Botswana, Bulgaria, Jordan, Latvia, and Uruguay.

Top 10 Developed Countries: Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Spain, U.S., Norway, Germany, Iceland and France.

ATDI benchmarks are calculated by The George Washington University and the Adventure Travel Trade Association using economic and environmental data from institutions such as the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, UNESCO, and Transparency International among others, and adventure tourism industry survey data. A complete discussion of the methodology is available at www.gwu.iits/ATDI.htm.

2008 Feature Adventure Destinations
In Peru, PromPeru, the agency responsible for marketing Peru tourism, recognized that the underdeveloped North and Central regions could play a larger role in the country’s tourism industry but wanted to find ways to market and develop these areas with sensitivity. Three Hotspots – Trujillo, Huaraz, and Chachapoyas – were selected for their mix of resources to appeal to adventure travelers – each with a compelling mix of natural, cultural, and adventure sporting resources. Additionally, these Hotspots were found to have a good base level of infrastructure and community support for tourism development. Itineraries for each Hotspot were suggested, as well as a unifying marketing theme for the three regions.

In Assam, India, state policymakers saw the opportunity to capitalize on India’s rapidly expanding tourism market to draw more visitors to the Assam. The state’s tourism department leaders requested not only recommendations for adventure product development, but also wanted to ensure that new products would reach an audience of tour operators and travelers to begin operating trips in the region. In addition, the state’s leaders were very concerned that any new market development initiatives encourage sustainable, responsible tourism. Seven adventure tourism zones or “Hotspots” and provided itineraries for each.

Excerpts of the report provided to state policymakers have been made available in the ATDI 2008 Feature Adventure Destination Report here: and and Forward queries to: [email protected].

Why The ATDI is Necessary
As more destinations and businesses enter the adventure tourism industry, there is a need for guidelines for responsible development. Through the ATDI’s 10 Pillars, ATTA, GW and Xola offer a set of principles to structure the adventure industry’s growth, ensuring that any new markets created will be sustainable, delivering benefits into the future for the local environment and people.

Industry participants and media are encouraged to visit or for more information about the ATDI.

About the Partners
Established in 1990, the Seattle-based ATTA ( is a global membership organization dedicated to unifying, professionalizing, promoting and responsibly growing the adventure travel market worldwide. ATTA Members include tour operators, destination marketing organizations, tourism boards, travel agents/agencies, guides, lodges/resorts/attractions, media, and service providers. Host of the Adventure Travel World Summits, the ATTA provides professional support, development, education, research, marketing, career building, networking and cost saving resources to its members.

The George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies has held a leadership role in tourism and hospitality education for over 30 years, building a global reputation for tourism research and academic programs. Today, IITS, located within GW’s School of Business, offers academic opportunities in tourism administration, event management, sport management, and sustainable destination management for undergraduate, master’s, and professional students.

Xola Consulting, Inc. ( provides consulting services to individual adventure tour company operators and tourism boards interested in adventure tourism development for the benefit of rural communities and the environment. Xola also specializes in supporting organizations seeking to blend adventure tourism and volunteer service. Xola consultants have in-depth experience in emerging markets around the world including Central and South America, North Africa and Asia, including Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), India, Nepal, Mongolia and China.


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