The adventure travel sector is rapidly expanding, and tourism industry stakeholders should prepare for an inflow of tourists looking for new experiences. From 2020 to 2030, the global adventure tourism market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 10.7%, from USD 657.8 million in 2019 to USD 2.02 billion in 2030.

Exploring exotic places, trekking into distant areas, experiencing the outdoors, and traveling to other out-of-the-comfort-zone destinations that include physical activities, cultural interaction, and framing a closer relationship with nature are all part of adventure tourism.

Sandboarding, canyoneering, mountaineering, hiking, scuba diving, paragliding, river rafting, trekking, and other activities are examples of adventure tourism.

Due to the exponential expansion of the tourist sector, the worldwide adventure tourism business is booming. In addition, the desire of young people to travel to new places, growing demand for adventure sports, rising disposable incomes, and affordable travel packages are projected to support market expansion throughout 2021 to 2030 period.

Furthermore, an increase in government initiatives in the form of public-private partnerships to promote tourism, high competition among travel agencies in offering affordable travel packages, a surge in travel trends on social media, economic evolution, and reduced travel restrictions are all factors driving the future growth of the adventure tourism market.

Over the projected period, North America is predicted to lead the global adventure tourism market, accounting for the largest market share. This is due to reasons such as the availability of numerous adventurous destinations, high per-capita disposable income, improved service offerings, and a growth in social media trends for vacationing in new locations.

Due to a rise in public-private initiatives to boost tourism and young interest in adventure sports, Asia Pacific is expected to expand at the fastest CAGR over the projection period.

Adventure tourism is becoming increasingly popular, with at least 42% of all tourists preferring to partake in one or more adventure activities.

Adventure tourism involves a lot of planning and preparation, and whereas airlines receive 80% of the income from a regular trip, local communities receive 70-80% of the revenue from adventure tourism.

To entice customers, key operators are constantly implementing innovative technologies like as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, IoT, and others. In the next 10 years, such efforts are expected to open up a lot of opportunities for the adventure tourism sector.

The worldwide adventure tourism business was on the surge prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to increased globalization, multinational events, and concerts. The tourist sector is anticipated to gradually recover from the beginning of 2022, thanks to the global rollout of vaccinations.

The tourist industry’s quick recovery, young people’s desire to visit new places, growing demand for adventure sports, and affordable travel packages are all projected to contribute to market growth throughout 2021- 2030.

Current and Future Adventure Trends

Use of Virtual Reality Tours

Since virtual reality joined the tourist industry with all of its capabilities, its popularity has surged. People who are interested in visiting a place or participating in an adventurous activity can be transported to the destination in seconds.

According to a recent poll by Digital Market Outlook, 49% of all adventure tourism companies would utilize virtual reality if it were free, and 13% would pay for travel-related material.

73 % of all users said they’d like to download the virtual reality application to their device.

Make use of professional photos and videos.

Future clients’ perceptions of travel experiences, as well as their willingness to spend money on it, are greatly influenced by photos of those events. Additionally, images are 40% more likely than words to be shared online, particularly on Facebook.

As a business, you should include a variety of high-quality videos that depict various adventure travel experiences in addition to photographs. A unique video can help you stand out from the crowd and demonstrate your company’s creative side.

Chatbot utilization

Chatbots were created to help customers with customer service concerns more quickly and efficiently. They’ve also been shown to be cost-effective, saving up to 30% on customer service expenditures.

Furthermore, 95% of consumers feel that “customer service” will be the primary benefit of chatbots. Furthermore, users prefer chatbots to phone calls, with surveys showing that 56% of respondents would rather message than contact customer support.

Cycling Trips 

Bike excursions are becoming increasingly popular, according to McLean, a Virginia-based travel expert. This is due to people’s natural desire to be active and daring. A total of 48 million individuals are projected to ride bicycles recreationally each year.  Bicycle tourists are often geo-tourists who want to experience the uniqueness of a location, scenery, culture, and history.

The Slow Tourism 

Slow tourism is based on two concepts: a slower pace and real experiences. One of the goals is to have an unexpected experience by staying off the beaten path and avoiding well-known tourist sites. Slow travelers love to take their time to explore new areas, stay interested, and find peace and tranquility.

Solo Traveling

Because you have complete control over your trip schedule, traveling solo may be extremely self-indulgent. 59 % of female solo travelers said they would do it again without hesitation. Additionally, an 80 % majority of individuals prefer autonomous travel, according to a poll of 262 persons.

This doesn’t have to mean flying off and exploring new places on your own, unless that’s what you want to do. In reality, solitary travelers frequently meet other solo travelers as part of a specifically organized trip.

The over 55s are the age group most likely to seek adventure through solo travel.

Wildlife tours and safaris, as well as sailing, bus journeys, and archaeological excursions, are all popular vacations for the over 55s.

Twenty % of the 55-75 year olds polled said they would withdraw money from their pension and spend it on a vacation, with 59 % indicating they would spend it on a “Holiday of a Lifetime.” This is where the adventure begins!

Locally based activities are encouraged

Domestic tourism is expected to grow in popularity in 2021, as travelers discover the beauty of their own backyards. The best part for many tourism operators is that, because they won’t be traveling abroad for vacations anytime soon, more local travelers will be ready to spend more money on distinctive local experiences.

Sustainability is a priority

Throughout the pandemic, the continuous desire for greener, sustainable, and low-impact experiences was heightened. Travelers want meaningful experiences that prioritize community and environment. Supporting local businesses, eco-friendly experiences, and initiatives that benefit nature, local communities, and animals counts as part of this.

It’s Crucial to Have a Health and Safety Plan

When it comes to tourism during a pandemic, the general attitude is that consumers’ health and safety are their primary concerns. Over the last year, research has repeatedly pointed to a more health-conscious adventurer. High cleaning standards were regarded as the most desired luxury item by 81 % of worldwide travelers. Customers are more inclined to choose firms with a clear COVID safety policy over others when it comes to picking which adventure to go on.

The emergence of contactless booking

“COVID-19 is proving to be an unexpected driver in the Travel & Tourism sector’s search for innovation and the incorporation of new technologies,” according to the WTTC study. According to American Express study, 56 % of global travelers miss traveling so much that they are prepared to schedule a vacation even if they may have to cancel it later.

Traveling in Small Groups

Individuals want to get out and share experiences with people outside of their cocoon, and small group travel is becoming increasingly popular. In comparison to 2019, the solo travel sector has decreased by 44%, and a recent poll of Canadian citizens revealed that 50.6 % plan to vacation with family and 30.8 % with friends.

Path to long-term travel

We’ll see this period become unexpectedly associated with “adventure travel planning” as retirement becomes less and less about reaching a particular age and leaving the employment, and with more people deliberately preparing to retire sooner.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of 18 to 25-year-olds plan on retiring before they are 55, and their plans are evolving. Travelers will alter their mentality in 2021 and beyond and begin to plan big for their future golden years, with over two-thirds (65%) of global travelers considering travel as the ideal way to spend their spare time.

Almost half (47%) of global travelers expect to be more adventurous in their travel choices after they retire, and almost a fifth (19%) of those who are already retired plan to take a gap year.

Creating time to travel for many months without stopping, which over half (52%) of all adventurous travelers believe is possible at any age.

Work-life balance is being replaced with work-travel balance

In the next 10 years, ‘travel tasking’ will be introduced, where workers take use of flexible working circumstances to get a variety of experiences while keeping their day employment afloat, all while making this unknown to their coworkers and clients. 

We’ll see location independent workers, or those who benefit from flexible working circumstances, be able to travel to new cities and places without missing work.

In the travel industry, Millennials will drive responsible business

According to a Nielsen poll, nearly nine out of ten Millennials would switch brands to support a good cause. Millennials and their Gen Z counterparts will increase demand for open and responsible corporate practices in the tourism sector.

We’ll see a surge in female tour guides in developing countries, the abolition of elephant rides in several Asian destinations, and more carbon-offsetting by travel businesses.

Landlubbers will transform and join an adventure cruise

The worldwide cruise sector welcomed almost 30 million passengers in 2019, employing 1.8 million people and contributing more than $154 billion to the global economy.

While adventure cruising will account for a modest amount of total growth in worldwide passenger numbers, Intrepid Travel forecasts that it will account for a large proportion of individuals who are new to cruising owing to its more personal character. With an emphasis on sustainability, adventure sailing will allow ‘cruise skeptics’ to visit hard-to-reach coastal places. Unlike huge ships, adventure cruisers are encouraged to spend time and money in local communities.

Greater Challenges to Overcome

Overworked and fatigued professionals looking for a vacation to replenish their batteries will flock to active experiences like hiking, bicycling, and kayaking. The thrill and exhilaration of an athletic journey surpasses the benefits of sitting by a pool for a week.

Key Findings from Adventure Travel Trade Association

Guests spend an average of $206 on local handicrafts and souvenirs, accounting for 74% of trip expenditures.

Wellness-focused activities, hiking, cultural, culinary, and electric bike cycling are among the most popular adventure activities.

Consumer desire for custom itineraries and greener/sustainable/low-impact itineraries is high.

According to outbound adventure tour companies, the following regions had a substantial rise in client interest in 2019: South America, the Antarctic, Western Europe, Central Asia, and the Mediterranean are just a few of the places where you can travel.

The average age of adventure travel tour operator clientele is 45-64 years old.

A vacation in North America in 2019 cost an average of $447 per day.

The majority of adventure travelers are ladies between the ages of 29 and 60.

In North America, South America, Africa, and Europe, the majority of tour groups were made up of couples.

Families made up the largest %age for adventure travelers in Central America/Caribbean, and groups were most prevalent in Asia.

The average vacation for adventure travelers lasted 8.8 days, costing $3,000 USD ($341 per day).

Wellness tourism is expected to grow to a US$900 billion market by 2022, according to the Global Wellness Institute. Albeit not new, the evolution of wellness tourism, particularly in connection to adventure travel, is fascinating. It is growing increasingly specialized, and extreme.

The adventure tourism market was largest in the land-based activity sub-segment. It reached over $381,797.5 million in 2019 and is expected to rise steadily over the next 10 years.

The family sub-segment has retained a significant market share in recent years, generating $168,069.8 million in sales in 2019 and forecasting $555,461.2 million by 2027.

In 2019, Europe had the greatest revenue share of 30% in the adventure tourism industry, accounting for $632,996.3 million, with a forecast of $632,996.3 million in 2027.

Europe records over 100 million visits each year on average.

During the period between the years 2021 to 2025, Europe is expected to account for 32% of market growth. In Europe, Germany is a major market for adventure tourism.

Based on age group segment, the 20-30 year old age group accounted for around 41.5 % of revenue in 2019 and is expected to maintain its steady rise by 2027.

Private transportation, such as vans and buses, private villas and accommodations, and smaller groups for adventure excursions and activities are expected to see increased demand.

Virtual travel experiences are gaining popularity on Facebook and other social media platforms. You may, for example, attend a live aurora borealis stream from Manitoba or tour Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park with audio from Traditional Custodians.

Hosting an online event where you take people through part of your adventure tourism experience, either to promote immediate reservations or to stay front of mind in the future, will be the new norm in 2021 and beyond.

The average age of adventure travelers is 29-40 years old, compared to 41-50 years old by only one %age point, and a robust 22 % of adventure travelers are 51-60 years old.

The difference between male and female adventure travelers was only one %age point (50.5 % male; 49.5 % female)

Females, on the other hand, make up the bulk of adventure travel buying decisions (64 %), which is consistent with travel purchase trends in the wider travel industry.

In terms of cost, 30 % of travel agents indicated adventure travelers spend on average $2000-3000 per person.

Consumers generally spend $3000-5000 per person on average, according to 33% of travel agents, and $22.5 % spend $5000-plus per person on average, according to 22.5 % travel agents.

Adventure Travel Diversity

There are around 22 million African-American adventure tourists in the United States, generating $51 billion in annual income.

On average, adventure travelers of color take 2.5 trips each year, with two of those being international.

Outbound adventure travelers of color from the United States spend roughly the same as white adventure travelers from the United States generally, but they spend more in-destination on items like transportation, dining, tours, entertainment, and shopping.

In general, adventure travelers of in the United States are eager to attempt new activities, and they like to participate in more than one or two when the opportunity arises. A majority of them plan their paid group activities before they arrive at their location.

For adventure travelers of color in the United States, web-based channels are the preferred method of booking flights and lodging. A live or phone connection is preferred by 30-40% of people.

People of color account for more than a third (36%) of outbound adventure travelers in the United States (age 18+).

People of color are projected to represent 22 million adventure tourists (18+) in the United States.

The yearly market opportunity for African-American adventure travelers in the United States is $51 billion (based on one 7-night/8-day trip per person).

Hiking and camping are the two most popular soft adventure activities among Black, Asian American and Hispanic adventure travelers.

Mountain biking, climbing, and sea/whitewater kayaking are three of the most popular hard adventure sports among Black, Hispanic, and Asian American adventure travelers.

Beach vacations are the most popular leisure trip setting among adventure travelers of color in the United States, followed by urban and mountain vacations.

39% of Black American Adventure Travelers travelled to Bahamas, Canada, United Kingdom, Jamaica and Australia.

43% of Hispanic American Adventure Travelers travelled to Mexico, Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, Bahamas and Australia.

45% of Asian American Adventure Travelers travelled to Philippines, United Kingdom, India, China and Japan.

The main channels utilized by U.S. adventure travelers of color to book flights, accommodations, and other services for their recent journeys are Expedia, Google, and TripAdvisor.

For single-day activities like biking tours, snorkeling, or kayaking, the leading booking sites are Google, TripAdvisor, and Expedia. Google is used by 37% of Black American Adventure Travelers, 42% of Hispanic American Adventure Travelers, 41% of Asian American Adventure Travelers, and 31% of other Non-White American Adventure Travelers.

Expedia is used by 24% of Black American Adventure Travelers, 41% of Hispanic American Adventure Travelers, 47% of Asian American Adventure Travelers, and 19% of other Non-White American Adventure Travelers.

TripAdvisor is used by 36% of Black American Adventure Travelers, 31% of Hispanic American Adventure Travelers, 30% of Asian American Adventure Travelers, 56% of other Non-White American Adventure Travelers.

Summer vacations abroad are doubtful for most individuals during the pandemic, but staycations will be in great demand until the economy starts to improve. Consumers will be anxious for a change of scenery and prefer country vacations over city breaks, so marketing that focus on escapism will be appealing.

The trend of tourists reserving individually or putting together individualized packages online is expected to continue, implying that operators will be able to add value to their services by specializing in a specific region or specific activities. Adventure vacations and vacations involving a more sophisticated combination of activities and travel, for example, are likely to see increased demand, especially as compared to simpler vacation packages that can be bought more simply online.

Transformative Adventures

Best For…disconnecting 

A five-day self-guided vacation in Sweden’s beautiful Saint Anna archipelago is offered by Do The North. Expect nothing except a burner phone, a map, and a compass when you go out to sea. You won’t have seen a screen in days when you return. Excluding flights, prices start at SEK6,900 (£590).

Best For… inner adventures

The Place Retreats in Seminyak, Bali, should be at the top of anyone’s wish list if they want to truly transform. The beautiful sanctuary claims to restore clients’ mental and physical well-being. Excluding flights, eight days start at £3,100..

Best For… regaining a sense of wonder

Flashpack’s small group adventures for solo adventurers in their 30s and 40s have stirred up the group tour business, and their nine-day gorilla-tracking expedition in Rwanda is sure to leave an impact – seeing some of their closest animal relatives up close is a life-changing event. Excluding flights, prices start from £3,749.

Best For…conservation

Airbnb debuted its ‘Adventures’ channel in 2019, and for animal lovers, the three-day sea turtle conservation excursion in Costa Rica is a great way to round out a trip to the land of ‘pura vida.’ Excluding flights, prices start at £112 per person.

The top ten most popular forms of adventure travel

The top ten most popular forms of adventure travel (as defined by ATTA) include:

  • Small Ship Expedition Cruises
  • Culinary and Foodie
  • Safaris
  • Cultural Tours
  • Hiking/Walking/Trekking
  • Scuba Diving/Snorkeling
  • Sea Kayaking/Whitewater Kayaking/Kayak Touring
  • Biking/Road Biking/Mountain Biking
  • Rafting
  • Multi-sport (i.e., hike/bike/kayak in one trip)

Adventure travelers are booking a combination of pre-arranged tour operator packages and tailored individual adventures, according to the poll, with neither group clearly outperforming the other.

In 2020, the land-based activity category was the most popular, accounting for the majority of the total. This segment’s popularity can be ascribed to the fact that these activities are simple to carry out and very inexpensive when compared to other options.

However, over the period 2020 to 2028, air-based activity is expected to expand the most.

Adventure tourism’s business potential in Europe

Adventure tourism is quite popular among Europeans. Every year, 100 million Europeans go to another country on adventure excursions.

Aside from the fact that adventure travelers are numerous, they also contribute significantly to the economy of the places they visit: two-thirds of all their travel costs are spent on location.

Europeans’ need for distinctive experiences, as well as their evolving attitudes toward fitness and technology, are reshaping the industry and providing you with several options.

According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, Europe is the most important source market for adventure tourism firms in Africa (43 %) and Asia (43 %) (30 %).

Visitors from North America (54 %) are the most profitable for South America, followed by tourists from Europe (33 %).

Nearly 60% of adventure travelers in Europe are European tourists.

Adventure tourism makes a significant contribution to local economies: around two-thirds of money spent on adventure travel stays in the community. On average, each traveler spends around €350 per day.

Prior to the coronavirus epidemic, Europeans made 10 million travels to foreign countries each year, mostly for sports.

According to a research of 279 European tour companies operating in developing countries, 80 % of these tour operators were involved in adventure tourism by providing services in at least one of the specialized sectors. Wildlife watching is the most important adventure tourism niche sector, according to the report.

Wildlife viewing activities were offered by 58% of all European travel companies. Walking (50%) is the second most popular niche sector, followed by ecotourism (42%), and birdwatching (37 %).

According to the same poll, 59 % of European Millennials have experienced at least one type of adventure experience, such as living in a cabin in the woods, camping in the wilderness, or traveling around the world.

Although higher than the European average of 53%, European Millennials are less likely to try new activities than American Millennials (83%) or Chinese Millennials (77 %) or Mexican Millennials (81%).

Although they may be seeking for physically difficult activities, older age groups have more money and focus on low-risk activities. According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, those aged 40 to 70 make for two-thirds of the market.

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