Discovery, Thrills and Sustainability

The spirit of adventure continues to grow exponentially

In an era where experiences trump ownership, adventure travel is poised to benefit from demographic, technological and environmental trends to lead the wider travel industry on sustainable development.

Adventure Tourism has grown exponentially worldwide over the past years with more and more tourists visiting destinations previously undiscovered.
This allows for new destinations to market themselves as truly unique, appealing to those travellers looking for rare, incomparable experiences. In its report on adventure tourism, the UNWTO stated, “In a sector that is not only innovative, it is resilient in reaping the benefits that adventure tourism can bring to an economy, it is necessary to put in place conditions that make the country easy to visit as well as attractive to develop. Furthermore, this Report takes a closer look at the links between the proper management of adventure travel and a sustainable, ethical tourism which contributes effectively to community development.”

Adventure companies continue to say they anticipate growth in the coming year: a recent survey published by the Adventure Travel Trade Association highlighted that more than 70% of businesses say they are growing; 40% of those say the reason for growth is new customers. International research firm Euromonitor in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) reports that soft adventure activities (narrowly defined as hiking, viewing nature/ ecotourism, kayaking, rafting, backpacking) constitute a global market valued at $470bn involving an estimated 238 million tourists per year.

While tourism has been often recognised as a force for good as a result of the jobs and money it can deliver, the real story for 2018 is, says Christina Beckmann, Director, Education and Research at the Adventure Travel Trade Association, adding, “The adventure industry’s awakening to the reality of its deeper and perhaps greatest, potential: adventure travel experiences offer the rare opportunity to communicate on an emotional level with hundreds of millions of travellers about the urgency of conservation for our planet.” So, in a nutshell, how one can be socially and ecologically responsible while taking economic sustainability into account on one’s travels? “The original notion of a ‘sustainable traveller’ was the backpacker”, says Bruce Poon Tip of G Adventures. “Tourist boards often maligned them as they didn’t fall into any categories, but they were the first travellers to distribute wealth as they travelled by paying for everything locally. This also proved to be more cost effective, and today continues to offer the benefit of cultural experiences that can be difficult to attain, while benefitting local communities globally at the same time. My advice would be to remain conscious of the benefits you are creating by travelling and to be more aware of paying fair trade prices locally for services, while travelling”.

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