ADVENTURE TOURISM: THE SUSTAINABLE TOURISM OPPORTUNITY FOR EMERGING MARKETS
Shannon Stowell will provide an overview and definition of adventure tourism and discuss the market and environmental opportunity it represents today. Included in his presentation are statistics on the market value of the global adventure tourism market and results from original survey research into the preferences and behaviors of U.S. adventure travelers (one of the largest source markets for international adventure travel). Included are survey results indicating an interest in Asian destinations for adventure travel. Mr. Stowell will also share information on when adventure tourism product development makes sense for a destination, trending activities, the importance of environmental management and tour operator best practices in securing a competitive position in the global marketplace for adventure experiences, and the triple bottom line benefits of adventure tourism market development.
Welcome, I’m Shannon Stowell, the president of the ATTA….
The ATTA sees that Asian destinations have great potential for adventure tourism. I hope this presentation will inspire you to develop adventure products, and take your destination management issues very seriously.
Once I share information about adventure travelers from our original research and trends in activities and destinations you will see how the assets of Asian destinations – from your wilderness to wildlife to centuries-old culture – can be shared with adventure travelers for a one-of-a-kind experience.
I will also share with why I believe emerging markets in Asia in particular have an edge right now with adventure travelers. Let’s get started…
First, what is adventure travel? We at the ATTA base our definition on consumer research we did in which we learned that consumers value the cultural experience as much as the nature and physical aspects. In the next slides I’m going to show some images of adventure tourism..
Birdwatching – a soft adventure travel activity, growing in popularity. Combined with a hike and lunch in a rural village for example, this is a terrific adventure tourism experience.
Mountaineering – of course, this is the kind of hard adventure activity many people think of when they adventure – travel to Nepal and climb Everest, now that’s adventure travel.
Here’s rock climbing – of course you have so much of this in Asian countries, with climbs for people at all levels. I came across a great blog written by a young woman, a novice climber, describing her climbing experiences in Thailand.
Whitewater rafting – this of course is a very flexible adventure travel activity – great for half day trips, can be offered on longer trips with wilderness camping, stretches of river can be good for families, or more technical and risky.
Sea kayaking – one of the easiest and gentlest ways to tour the coast, a very popular adventure travel activity.
And of course, lunch with the locals – local food and culture is one of the cornerstones of adventure travel. We’ll talk more about the importance of food experiences in the adventure product later in this presentation.
In the next slides I’m going to share some information about the global adventure travel market based on primary research conducted by The George Washington University for the ATTA.
First, the global market value. We valued the global adventure travel market in 2012 at $263B. This is published in our 2013 Adventure Travel Market Study and is available online if you want to search for it. This was just looking at international departures from North America, South America, and Europe, however. While these regions account for 70% of international travel, we knew we were missing Asia from this study, and now, a few years hence, we know we need to update this number.
If the adventure market without Asia is $263B, we imagine the market including Asia is even larger.
Compared to the global tourism industry, we know adventure is still just a small slice of the pie. However, we also looked at growth rate. And we found 65% growth between 2009 and 2012, when we repeated the survey. Whatever critiques someone may have about the study, there’s no denying the growth rate, which is quite impressive and leads us to believe that adventure travel is one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry.
(Shannon, if you have a numbers person in the audience, they might ask about the growth rate, which is not calculated on a compound basis here).
from the 2015 Industry Snapshot, our survey of adventure travel tour operators, we find trip prices ranging from $215 per day on the low end (for companies headquartered n Europe) to $477 on the high end, for companies headquartered in North America.
Next, I want to turn to another finding from the 2013 market study, which was that 40.6% of all travelers have engaged in an adventure activity on a past trip and could therefore be considered an “adventure traveler.” This statistic was arrived at by taking a very general look at traveller activities, and seeing that 40.6% of international travelers had engaged in the past five years in an adventure activity. For everyone in this audience, I would encourage you to see – any person in the past who has engaged in an adventure activity is a potential customer.
The list activities that were included in our survey were: Archeological expeditions Backpacking Birdwatching Camping Canoeing Caving Climbing Cycling Ecotourism Environmentally sustainable activities Fishing Heli sking Hiking Horseback riding Hunting Kayaking Kite surfing Motorized sports Orienteering Paragliding Rafting Research expedition Safaris Sand boarding Sailing Scuba diving Snorkeling Sking/snowboarding Stand up paddle boarding Surfing Trekking Volunteer tourism
Our 2013 market study revealed that 40% of international travelers had tried an adventure activity on a trip in the last three years. This was a good start, but we knew there was much more to to be learned about adventure travelers, and in 2014 we decided to do a more in-depth study of travelers. We started with a survey of travelers based in the USA, and we hope to replicate this study in other regions of the world. This was an electronic survey of 1700 US travelers.
We went beyond asking simply about past activities and included a series of additional questions that allow us to define more sharply different types of adventure travelers by looking more closely at their behavior.
So addition to just looking at what the activity was on the last trip, we asked people to share the primary and secondary activity of their last trip. For instance, people might be visiting family as a primary activity, but will undertake hiking as a secondary activity in the same trip. We also asked questions about perception and comfort with risk and desire for a thrilling experience. And we further asked about their skill level in the activities they undertake and whether they repeat activities time and again when they travel.
The responses allowed us to come up with three dominant adventure traveler profiles, which we are calling: Adventure Grazer Adventurer Adventure Enthusiast
Adventure Grazers: these are novice and first time participants of adventure activities. They are eager to sample new things and move through their ‘bucket list.’ They are accepting of moderate risk.
Next Adventurers: these people are intermediate in their skill level, they repeat the same activity on different trips, and they are thrill-seekers, also accepting of moderate risk.
And finally we have the Enthusiasts: these are the people who are very advanced in their favorite activities, they accept high risk.
What we are calling “Up-and-coming adventurers” - these are people who may take on an adventure activity (often soft) as part of a trip, most likely as a secondary activity
And then we have mainstream or “mass” travelers – these are people who do not engage in adventure activities
Thinking of the U.S. population in this way, we start to get a different sense of adventure tourism’s potential, don’t we? Next, I’d like to share a video of Taleb Rifai from the UNWTO speaking on the topic of adventure tourism.
Taleb Rifai – Secretary General of the United World Tourism Organization – came to our Adventure Travel World Summit in 2012 in Switzerland. To get a grasp of how global leaders view the place adventure travel as in the tourism landscape – we wanted to share this video with you.
Let’s go now to the Asian Advantage. What is the opportunity for asia when it comes to building an adventure tourism market?
First, I’ll share some information from our 2015 Industry Snapshot. This shows the regions of the world that tour operators said they were receiving increased interest in from adventure travelers. You’ll see on this this list they included SE Asia, China, NE Asia, India, South Asia
In addition, our survey of US adventure travelers I referred to earlier, found that India and Japan are among Asian destinations most recently visited by U.S. adventure travelers.
Here’s a look at activities that are trending, also from 2015 Industry snapshot. The more often cited activities are represented in a larger size. And we can see here the largest words are Walking Cycling Cultural Trekking Rafting is also pretty big on the chart…
I observe that as more people are interested in trying adventure travel, we see an uptick in requests for softer activities, such as walking. Any of the activities on this slide, you can do in Asia.
Next, let’s talk for a moment about the importance of food experiences in adventure tourism. ATTA just completed a study on this topic, and we found that 70+% of adventure itineraries already have a moderate to high food focus, which is to say that they include visits to local producers or markets, perhaps cooking classes, and discussion on the trip that shares the local culture through experiences in which travelers can learn about how food is grown, how it is cooked, special dishes and how they are eaten, for example.
We also found that the itineraries rated as “high food focus” in that they very deliberately use food as a lens through which to experience the destination, command higher prices – as we can see here $472 per day, which is at the high end of our per day averages.
The image here is of an article I spotted recently on CNN online – “Meet locals, eat their food: New Asian Dining Trend”. So, I’m sure many of you are aware of this already, but just to bring this home to you, if you’re not thinking about it already – consider ways to incorporate food experiences into your adventure travel products and your guests will love you for it.
So far I’ve shared with you information that shows Asian destinations are in demand by adventure travelers, given you some sense of the types of activities they prefer, and highlighted one of the growing trends, which is a stronger emphasis on food.
Let’s bring this all together for asian destinations – you have a great advantage in the global market, a real opportunity. First, many of the destinations in asia represent new territory for adventure travelers. And adventure travelers love places no one has visited before. This makes a place more desirable in their eyes. Especially for enthusiasts, the early adopters of the set of personas I mentioned earlier, for these folks, new destinations that are not popular or found in every travel magazine, these are the best opprotunities.
Second, your countries are rich in centuries of cultural history and assets. There’s so much here, it’s hard for people from North America and W. Europe – the largest source markets for adventure tourism today – to even grasp it. I
And third – you have the ability to offer a great range of adventure activities, especially soft activities, which are increasingly popular.
The keys to building your market Be ruthless about the management of your environmental and cultural assets. Don’t squander these valuable resources by over-commercializing them or allowing them to be over-visited without proper management in place. Once they’re lost, they can’t be regained. I cannot emphasize this enough. It’s important to everyone in tourism, but especially to adventure destinations, because we are bringing people to the most cherished and pristine natural and cultural sites. They must be protected.
As interest in your home markets builds for adventure tourism, you will see a rise in the number of businesses springing up to compete. It is crucial that these new businesses be supported in obtaining education on best practices. New entrepreneurs in adventure tourism have an opportunity and a great responsibility before them. They may not be equipped to operate a sustainable business. It is your job to help them, to facilitate this. They are the front lines of this industry, bringing the travelers.
Build your market by creating rich, varied, imaginative itineraries. Wow people with things they can only do in your destination.
Ok, before I close, I want to emphasize the importance of sustainability. None of the market opportunities we have been discussing matter if we don’t make sustainability a priority.
Let’s talk about Adventure traveler’s and their attitude toward sustainability. Adventure travel products as we know depend upon well managed natural resources. Adventure travelers especially care about the environment, because the things they are interested in doing are outside, interacting with that environment. If surfing in the water gives them a rash, if hiking has them kicking through garbage, if viewing wildlife causes them to see mistreatment of animals, they will talk loud and long about it both online and offline.
Manage your resources. Pressure your leaders to help you help manage your resources.
My final slide. The triple bottom line. The benefits to building adventure tourism may be found in your economies, in your environments and in your societies.
We’re still working on a study of the economic impact of adventure tourism, but we do know from our Industry Snapshots, that adventure tour operators are estimating 65% of the total trip cost stays in the local economy. Compare this with UNEP’s estimate the in most all-inclusive package tours, about 80% of travelers expenditures go to airlines, and other international companies who are often headquartered in their traverlers’ home countries.
Environmental benefits: adventure travel breeds sustainable behaviors on the part of travelers and communities
Social – by celebrating the local culture and traditions we encourage people to honor their history, even as they embrace modern technologies and trends.
Thank you for your time today, etc etc.
ADVENTURE TOURISM: THE SUSTAINABLE TOURISM OPPORTUNITY FOR EMERGING MARKETS
World Tourism Organization's (UNWTO)
Secretary-General Mr. Taleb Rifai joined
ATTA President Shannon Stowell on stage
to discuss the effects and impact of
adventure travel on the future of tourism
View more adventure travel videos on our YouTube Channel:
[BLENDING FOOD EXPERIENCES WITH ADVENTURE TRAVEL
COURTESY OF DENNIE AND DK COOP
From ATTA Survey:
• 70%+ of adventure itineraries
already have “moderate to
high” food focus
• “High Food Focus itineraries
average $472 per day
TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE
BENEFITS TO PROMOTING ECO-ADVENTURE
TOURISM IN EMERGING MARKETS
65% of traveler spending
stays in the country
Eco- adventure offers an
opportunity to develop
preservation of local
cultures. Local people can
experience benefits of eco