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Adventure travel shift fuelling major growth

The changing nature of adventure travel is fuelling significant growth within the sector with a wider range of experiences appealing to a broader cross-section of consumers, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association.

Speaking to Travel Today, ATTA executive director Americas and Oceania Chris Chesak identified luxury as a major trend currently making waves within the sector.

“Adventure and luxury used to be at polar ends of the spectrum, but now we’re seeing more and more product coming out that’s a blend of each of them,” he said.

“People want to go and do some hardcore mountain biking in the day but they still want to come back to a great lodge, great meal, spa and all the other amenities as well.”

Rather than evidencing a growing disposable income among travellers, the trend is a sign of a “swing” on the side of consumers, according to Chesak.

“Everyone’s done the fly and flop vacation and I think people are bored of that,” he said. “They want to get out, explore the local culture and be active – maybe do some yoga, maybe a bit of stand up paddleboarding along the way.”

Although the word “adventure” can often conjure up images of extreme activities such as bungee jumping of ice climbing, Chesak pointed out that the true face of the sector is, in fact, dramatically different.

“The reality is that literally 98% of the industry is soft adventure – not everyone wants to go ice climbing,” he said.

This shift could have helped fuel significant growth within the sector seen recently as revealed by an ATTA study in partnership with George Washington University which found that in the last year it had grown 65% to be worth an annual $263 billion. That growth marks a dramatic increase on the previous year’s number of 17%.

“As we’ve defined the category more, people have realised that yeah, a city bike tour is still adventure travel, and things like bird-watching, hill-walking all fit under that umbrella too so I think that’s helping,” Chesak said.

“I don’t know if that level of growth can be maintained but we shall see – we’re certainly going to try.”

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