At this year’s World Travel Market (WTM) in London, more than 150 participants representing 44 countries from six continents attended the event’s annual Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) AdventureConnect.
The event was led by Chris Doyle, ATTA executive director, Europe and Central Asia, who challenged the travel trade participants to upend their default thinking about leisure tourism. Doyle offered an overview of global trends and disruptions in the travel industry, including key drivers expected to impact global travel over the next decade. These were drawn from the ATTA’s level two AdventureEDU program delivered in November 2017 in Lofoten, Norway. Some of the trends and hot topics included:
- Geopolitics, including the fact that some travelers feel less inclined to visit the United States, the Middle East, and Asia due to current political situations in these regions.
- The new and growing OWLS population segment (Older, Working Less, Still earning), and an expanding middle class.
- The rise of Millennial travel. These travelers are adventurers at heart but they have new demands, new behaviors, and new values.
- Changing traveler behavior including a trend toward status-seeking, exclusivity, and personalization in travel choices.
- An increased interest in wellness, mindfulness, and transformation as travelers seek opportunities to get back to nature, exert independence, and seek silence.
The “formal” part of the AdventureConnect concluded with Innovation Blitz, which was seeded with multiple, fairly radical innovations either already present — or soon will be — in leisure tourism today, such as driverless technology. Participants were encouraged to discuss innovative and creative solutions for the responsible development of adventure travel as the industry moves into the future.
Doyle also offered a summary of the activities and projects the ATTA has been engaged with throughout 2017 and insight on events the ATTA will lead in 2018, including AdventureELEVATE in Banff, Canada (13-15 March), AdventureNEXT Near East in Jordan (7-9 May), AdventureWeek Panama (25 May-3 June), and the Adventure Travel World Summit in Montecatini Terme, Tuscany, Italy (15-18 October), among others.
The ATTA team — represented at WTM by Doyle; Gergana Nikolova, development lead, Europe; and Tereza Georgieva, special projects, Europe — had a series of meetings with destination representatives from Europe and other regions to discuss their in-depth and long-term engagement in adventure and responsible tourism development.
During WTM, the ATTA team ensured it was updated on the “hot” discussion topics while attending a number of key sessions during the three-day trade event. Of particular interest was listening to how ministers and global leaders are addressing the current overtourism challenge, what changes and possible disruptions could occur within the United Kingdom market in the context of Brexit, and how nations can collaborate with each other to promote cross-border destinations such as the Silk Road.