What is Adventure Tourism?
As travelers seek new and different experiences, adventure tourism continues to grow in popularity. Adventure tourism, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, is a tourist activity that includes physical activity, a cultural exchange, or activities in nature. You don’t necessarily have to go base jumping or go scuba diving with sharks to be an adventure tourist (although those activities definitely qualify).
Adventure tourism is about connecting with a new culture or a new landscape and being physically active at the same time. It is not about being risky or pushing your boundaries. In fact, it is especially important to know and respect your limits while you are in an unfamiliar area. Our list of adventure tourism activities has plenty of options if you aren’t necessarily a thrill seeker. If you are an adrenaline junkie, don’t worry we still have a few ideas for your next trip.
Adventure Tourism Activities
Getting out and experiencing a new location under the power of your own two feet is always a great option. Hiking allows you to slow down and enjoy more aspects of your surroundings. Day hikes are a good option for most anyone that loves the outdoors. If you happen to be in Costa Rica, you can take a guided hike up to the top of Cero Chato, a dormant volcano. You get to hike through the rain forest and your reward for getting to the top is a beautiful lagoon! Be sure to remember to wear moisture-wicking clothes; Costa Rica can be quite humid.
If you are more adventurous and have the proper equipment, you can extend your day hike into a backpacking trip. Backpacking allows you to stay out in nature longer and see more things than you would on a normal day hike. It is important to have the proper survival knowledge and gear. If you haven’t backpacked before, make sure that you go with someone knowledgeable that will show you the proper backpacking techniques. The Gore Range Trail is a great way to explore the mountains outside Silverthorne, Colorado. The whole trail is 41.7 miles long and is rated as a difficult trail. The scenic views make it worth the effort. If you’re not up for the full hike, you can set a goal for reaching one of the high alpine lakes along the trail.
Want to soar through the trees and experience nature from a different angle? You should try zip lining. Zip lines and canopy tours are a fantastic way to quickly see a new area. You see everything from a different angle. Some canopy tours will even get you up close and personal with the local wildlife. Niagara Falls recently installed a zip line called the MistRider. This zip line has 4 parallel lines, so you and your friends can all zip at the same time. It’s great opportunity to turn your trip to Niagara Falls into an adventure tourism activity.
Climbing is a classic example of an adventure tourism activity. It combines physical activity and allows you to take in the beauty of nature. Even if you’ve never climbed a day in your life, you can still get up a rock wall with the help of a guide. Make sure to check the safety record and accreditations of your rock climbing guide before heading out! Another option is to try climbing indoors. Many cities have rock climbing gyms so you can easily access some adventure! Ask if they have TRUBLUE Auto Belays so you can walk in and start climbing without needing an introductory class.
When most people hear free fall they think bungee jumping or skydiving. While those are viable adventure tourism activities, they might not be for everyone. Head Rush Technologies engineered the next generation of free fall devices, the QUICKflight and the FlightLine, to provide an authentic feeling of free fall with less risk. You can find these devices in ropes courses, adventure parks and other facilities all over the world. There’s a good chance that there’s a Head Rush Free Fall Device location in close proximity to your next destination.
Floating down a cool river on a hot summer day can be an excellent way to explore a new area. You get all the excitement of battling a rapid and you can also sit back and enjoy the view during the calmer sections of the river. The best season for rafting usually depends on the area you’re in and your desired level of adventure. Generally speaking, the water levels are usually higher earlier in the season and lower later in the season. Higher water levels provide bigger rapids and more thrills, while lower levels are more subdued.
If you’re talking about exciting physical activities that allow you to explore the outdoors, it would crime to leave out mountain biking. Mountain biking offers a great workout and a fun way to experience nature. You’ll be able to travel further distances on trails and see more of the surrounding area. New to mountain biking? No worries! Many locations have trails that range from beginner to advanced. If you’re near a ski resort, check to see if they have lift-serviced trails. You’ll ride the ski lift to the top with your bike and then let gravity do most of the work as you cruise the green, blue, and black trails down.
Skiing and Snowboarding
You might not have realized that your annual family ski trip qualifies as adventure tourism. Cruising down the slopes at a resort keeps you active and lets you experience the outdoors. The western United States is known for its exceptional skiing up and down the Rocky Mountains. You’ll find fresh powder and amazing slopes all the way from Alaska down to Utah, Colorado and even northern New Mexico. If you’re the adventurous type, you can abandon the resorts and set out into the backcountry. Backcountry skiing can be extremely dangerous if you aren’t properly trained. It’s absolutely necessary to take an avalanche safety class and buy all the proper safety equipment before you go off-piste. Consider hiring guide services for your first time trying backcountry skiing or snowboarding.
Finding Your Next Adventure
The Adventure Travel Trade Association hosts resources for travelers to find their next adventure. The businesses they share are part of the association and part of the adventure tourism movement around the world. Find resources, check out destinations, and get inspired by the many photos and videos. The next adventure is out there waiting for you!
Why is Adventure Tourism So Popular?
The adventure takes you away from your everyday concerns, allowing you to enjoy new surroundings and activities that are unlike anything you’ve ever done before. Whether it’s climbing Mount Everest or surfing the sea, the adventure takes you out of your routine and allows you to truly disconnect from reality. While you’re on top of the world, you won’t be thinking about anything else except the beautiful view and the thrill of breaking boundaries.
Dimensions of adventure tourism
The experiences of adventure tourism vary along several dimensions. These dimensions include location, level of risk, and group composition. Adventure tourism is a niche type of travel that includes both physical and mental activities. While most adventure tourism focuses on young people, there is also a segment of older travelers who are seeking new adventures.
Adventure tourism combines nature, thrill, and risk. It allows visitors to step outside of their comfort zone and experience a new culture. Adventure tourism can also involve physical activity, such as climbing mountains, participating in extreme sports, or engaging in extreme physical activities. Although adventure tourism often involves risk, it is also important to know your limits when traveling in an unfamiliar area.
A common misconception about adventure tourism is that it is not safe. While this misconception may be a myth, it is important to know what to expect before traveling. A high level of worry may reduce the likelihood of participating in an activity. Those who worry less about risky activities may have a more positive attitude toward adventure tourism.
In addition to physical risks, adventure tourism may include cultural immersion and travel elements. The concept of adventure tourism is evolving and varies across countries, cultures, and markets. While risk/thrill-seeking is a universal characteristic of adventure tourism, its exact definition varies. The concept of sensation seeking is often more relevant than the term thrill-seeking.
A new domestic model of river-based adventure tourism has emerged in China. In this model, participants embark on short, unguided raft trips with no paddles. The approach is different from international models, which require more individual involvement. This form of adventure tourism is popular with one-quarter of the country’s 18-35-year-olds.
As the global tourism market grows, it becomes more segmented. Adventure tourism is one such segment and has attracted a growing amount of international scholarship. Despite this, research in this segment is still limited. In addition, the continent of Africa is rapidly becoming an adventure tourism destination, with all SADC states promoting themselves as such.
Concept of exploration
Adventure tourism and the concept of exploration are closely related. The former is the act of a person exploring a new place, and the latter is the process of reporting back about the experience to the public. This process of reporting back to the public feeds the media economy through narratives and image commodities. The explorer curates their persona through the content they create and markets themselves as a brand. The explorer also inserts himself or herself into history, casting himself as a character in a story.
The concept of exploration in adventure tourism is not new. Scholars have been studying these activities in tourism contexts for years, and the field continues to grow. One of the major factors contributing to its continued growth, according to scholars, is the commodification of adventure activities. This term refers to the growing commitment to making adventure activities accessible to a mass audience. To understand how the concept of exploration in adventure tourism works, we must first understand what constitutes a commodified experience.
The concept of exploration in adventure tourism is based on the fact that people like challenges that they can overcome. To this end, tour operators should provide enough information and make it easy for travelers to decide whether they are up for the task. European travelers, for example, demand extensive information from tour operators. For example, if you are going for a mountain bike ride, you should know how much elevation change you will experience and how many rests breaks you will get.
Moreover, the concept of exploration in adventure tourism needs to focus on the existential authenticity of the experience. It is the ability to experience the unknown that enables us to find our authentic selves. There are a few studies that have taken this approach, but more research needs to be done to clarify and define the concept of adventure tourism.
In recent years, the global adventure tourism market has been growing at a rapid rate. This is mainly driven by an increase in disposable incomes and increasing interest among the youth. In addition, affordable travel packages and the availability of new places in remote areas have made the market more attractive. However, a number of challenges are associated with adventure travel, including the unpredictable nature of the environment, and the possibility of mishaps.
Impact of COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a direct impact on the spirit of adventure tourism, especially among young people. It is important for employers to understand how young people perceive the threat and choose jobs in this field based on the challenges and adventure spirit that they provide. This pandemic has a negative impact on job insecurity, but it also promotes positive changes in the organizational environment. The study findings offer practical value for managers and scholars, as it provides insight into the motivational factors of young people.
To ensure that tourism remains thriving in these conditions, flexible policy solutions are needed. The recent crisis has exposed gaps in tourism preparation and the tourism industry must learn from this. Coordination among governments and the private sector is essential for ensuring tourism sectors remain resilient and prepared. In addition, the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted the number of women-owned businesses and the number of female tourism workers.
The paper also focuses on the impacts of COVID-19 on adventure tourism. It looks at the risks, impediments, mitigation, and crisis scenarios. Finally, it presents general conclusions and includes a feasibility table. You can download the full paper here. This report is available only in English, but it’s worth a read.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant changes in the global adventure tourism industry. It has led to a shift toward domestic and local tourism, a demand for more socially distant adventures, and an increased focus on sustainability. As a result of COVID-19, the industry needs to find innovative ways to meet these new challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted global economies, including the tourism sector. It has also changed traveler behaviors, and traveler preferences. Consumers may focus more on safety protocols, while adventurers will be more likely to opt for private solutions. Additionally, people may avoid large gatherings, which will impact the environment.
The UIAA Medical Commission has played a key role in this crisis, providing front-line support for the Covid taskforce. It has also been working to produce literature to provide mountain travelers with the best advice possible. The first paper was published last year, and a second will be released in May 2021.
Benefits of adventure tourism
The development of adventure tourism can be very beneficial for communities. It not only provides jobs but also helps the economy of the area. Many adventure tourism companies are also dedicated to preserving the environment. While some of the activities they offer may seem hazardous, they are carefully planned to be respectful of the environment. This helps promote a positive image of the area.
The adventure tourism industry is growing in popularity. This type of tourism is often associated with culture shock and physical activity, so it can be challenging. Many benefits of adventure tourism stem from the enjoyment it brings to visitors. Adventure activities are fun and provide a great sense of achievement. Some activities are physically challenging and require extensive training and physical exertion.
Another benefit of adventure tourism is that it offers a break from the technology that dominates our lives. The benefits of this type of travel also allow us to connect with other people and animals. For example, a trip to Australia may expose you to koala bears and kangaroos in their natural habitat. In South Africa, lions, elephants, and giraffes can also be seen during a safari.
The benefits of adventure tourism are also evident in the increased revenue for local businesses. In British Columbia, the adventure tourism industry supports over two thousand businesses, generating over $2 billion in annual revenue. In addition, a recent survey found that 40 percent of Canadians are increasing their usage of outdoor trails, and 52 percent said they would include trails in their vacation plans in the future. These findings are encouraging for future investments in this sector.
This report provides a thorough analysis of the Global Adventure Tourism Market, and includes information on market size, competitive landscape, and application segments. This information can be used to guide product development cycles and determine the right marketing strategies. The research also provides a comprehensive assessment of the market’s growth potential. It is a must-have resource for entrepreneurs and investors.
Adventure travel can improve mental and physical health. The mental challenge of new situations and cultures helps our brains reboot. This can reduce the risks of dementia and memory loss.
Adventure Ecotourism: Why It’s Important and Where to Go
As global citizens and outdoors lovers, we believe that everyone should respect the environment they travel in. Even if we pick up litter and follow leave no trace principles, conventional tourism often disrupts local ecosystems, raises pollution levels, and contributes to the loss of local cultures. Ecotourism cuts out some of the adverse effects of mass tourism. It offers a sustainable travel solution for tourists along with their hosts.
There’s a lot of myths about ecotourism. Many think that you need to travel to the heart of the Amazon rainforest, or another far off destination, and spend your vacation without electricity or hot water to qualify as an eco-friendly tourist. In truth, there are probably tons of ecotourism destinations right on your doorstep (with fully functioning facilities).
In short, it’s about time we asked what is ecotourism and why is it important? What are the ecotourism benefits, and where can I find legitimate ecotourism providers?
- Ecotourism vs sustainable tourism: what’s the difference?
- Why is ecotourism important?
- The benefits of ecotourism
- Eco-friendly activities
What is ecotourism?
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”
According to TIES, ecotourism can be divided into three categories:
- Conservation – long-term economic incentives that encourage the protection of nature and cultural heritage. (i.e. protecting a forestry area from building development because leading nature hikes will be more profitable in the long term).
- Communities – empowering and enriching local communities, by providing employment, education, and economic development through tourism.
- Interpretation – ecotourism aims to educate. It offers greater opportunities, when compared to regular tourism, for visitors to learn about local cultures, heritage, flora and fauna.
In practice, ecotourism is a type of tourism that provides ecological, cultural, and educational based trips, often to undisturbed nature areas. Ecotourism encourages visitors to respect and learn about the area that they are visiting. Tourism, eco-friendly or not, provides opportunities for economic growth in the destination country. It provides millions of jobs worldwide and can be a crucial factor in lifting countries and communities out of poverty. However, mass tourism also has several negative consequences. Ecotourism differs from regular tourism because its primary focus is the conservation of local cultures and biodiversity. Ecotours often operate on a small scale, and travellers may spend days or even weeks exploring a single area.
Types of ecotourism
Ecotourism isn’t just wildlife watching and nature hikes; the term is inclusive of any types of travel that prioritise environmental and cultural conservation. That includes multi-day group tours, independent eco-friendly travellers, and even long-term volunteers. Here are some ecotourism examples:
Also called sustainable adventure tourism, adventure ecotourism combines outdoor activities with environmental and cultural conservation. Adventure ecotourism organisations go the extra mile to support local communities and environmental projects. Adventure ecotourism programs typically include activities such as hiking, biking, climbing, kayaking, rafting, wildlife watching, and nature education, as well as visits to local communities or cultural heritage sites. Accommodation is often provided in Eco lodgings, campsites, or small-scale guest houses. Adventure ecotourism organisations mostly employ local guides and economically support the communities they visit, either through trade (i.e. accommodation, restaurants, and local markets) or by charitable donations.
Ecotourism often offers opportunities for you to volunteer in rural communities. Volunteering opportunities can include community development projects, planting trees in areas affected by deforestation, wildlife conservation, and community aid.
Visitors can travel to rural farming communities. On these trips, visitors usually have the opportunity to see local working farms, learn about harvest and planting, interact with local farming families, and perhaps purchase local produce. Some agritourism destinations offer volunteering opportunities.
Staying in accommodation that is located in natural settings and made with environmental awareness in mind is a good example of ecotourism that is becoming more mainstream. This can include low-rise buildings that complement the surroundings, buildings made from natural/renewable materials, accommodations that are powered by renewable energy, small-scale/family-run accommodation, or local homestays.
The importance of ecotourism
Ecotourism vs sustainable tourism: what’s the difference?
Ecotourism is a type of tourism that primarily educates visitors on natural areas, flora, and fauna. Ecotourism is, by its nature, sustainable. Sustainable tourism, on the other hand, is a concept that can be applied to any type of tourism. For example, sustainable medical tourism, sustainable adventure tourism, or sustainable beach tourism. Sustainable tourism aims to minimise the impact of tourism on local communities and environments, but the tours are not necessarily nature themed.
Why is ecotourism important?
Most of us dream of travelling to faraway places with pristine beaches and scenic views, but tourism, in itself, causes environmental and cultural changes that can decimate natural areas and communities. Particularly in locations that have delicate ecosystems. Ecotourism minimises the negative environmental impact of travelling, helps to fund conservation, and protect biodiversity. Ecotourism can also ensure the survival of natural landscapes that would otherwise be lost to erosion or other natural causes.
The benefits of ecotourism
Ecotourism promotes conservation by providing financial benefits to locals. Often untouched landscapes are destroyed in order to access natural resources. Ecotourism, therefore, provides an alternative way for locals to earn money from the land without destroying it. Ecotourism in remote areas can also boost employment and education opportunities. As a traveller, ecotourism providers make it easier to visit unspoilt destinations and understand local culture and heritage. We’re able to enjoy breath-taking nature spots without massive crowds and, by supporting ecotourism, we ensure that tourism can continue indefinitely.
Here are some eco-friendly activities for tourists that you can add to your trip itinerary:
- Hiking – from day hikes on well-marked trails to multi-day wilderness expeditions
- Biking – cycle touring, or backpacking is one of the most eco-friendly ways to travel between cities or even across continents. Travellers with more limited vacation time can rent a bike and explore the countryside and nearby sites on two wheels.
- Non-motorised water sports – swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, free diving, kayaking, canoeing, and rafting are all eco-friendly activities.
- Camping – while camping, you’ll use less electricity. It’s also the best way to connect to nature. But avoid camping in places that will disrupt wildlife and remember to leave no trace – check out our Leave No Trace quiz if you’re not sure abou this.
- Agricultural tours and farmers markets – support farming economies and learn about farming by visiting the countryside.
- Beach cleanups – seek out a beach cleanup in the destination you’re visiting. You can do your part to keep tourist destinations clean while interacting with locals.
Adventure ecotourism providers
Any travel agency with eco in the title must be environmentally conscious, right? There are a lot of travel agencies out there, and a lot of them are less environmentally sound than they claim to be. Before booking your next big adventure, do a bit of background reading on your travel provider. Most genuine ecotourism providers will have a sustainability statement, certifications from recognised conservation organisations, or links to supported foundations visible on their website.
To save you some time, we’ve put together a handful of ecotourism providers that operate tours across the globe.
|Multi-day rock climbing and yoga holidays and courses. Daily activities include canyoning, mountain biking, paragliding, and hiking.
|Serves vegan and vegetarian food. Lodge was renovated using an ecological approach (solar powered hot water, walls are made of straw or stone and rendered with lime). Offers volunteering placements on ecological projects. Works closely with local organisations to raise the profile of the area, its wildlife and support local people, projects and patrimony. Restores, regenerates and maintains the surrounding land folloing zoning principles of a permaculture approach to land management.
|Strandja Nature Park, Bulgaria
|Multi-day nature-themed tours. Activities include hiking, birding, wildlife watching, nature observation, water sports, and village visits.
|Partnered with the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation and Strandja Nature Park Doctorate. Connects visitors with locally owned guesthouses, restaurants, and family-run hotels. Promotes carbon offsetting.
Outer Shores Expeditions
|Canada: Pacific Rim National Park, Gwaii Haanas National Park, Great Bear Rainforest, Salish Sea, and Northern Vancouver Island.
|Multi-day cruise expeditions to wilderness areas and wildlife reserves on a wooden schooner. Daily activities include walking, wildlife watching, boating, water sports, and local food tasting.
|The company is carbon neutral. Contributes to Citizen-Science Projects. Provides locally sourced and organic foods where possible. Operates an onboard recycling and composting program.
Maine Windjammer Association
|Multi-day sailing cruises on a tall ship. Daily activities include six hours sailing (with sailing teaching), visits to harbour villages. Also offers themed nature, hiking, kayaking, geology, and whale watching cruises.
|MWA partner with local businesses (B&B’s, restaurants, and transportation agencies). Tours have a minimal footprint as vessels are wind operated. Onboard cooking on wood-burning or kerosene stoves which also heat the hot water. The company abide by and encourage Leave-No-Trace principles.
South and Central America
|Galapagos Islands and Patagonia
|Galapagos Islands: multi-day luxury cruise. Daily activities include snorkelling, swimming, kayaking, wildlife watching, light walking—Patagonia: guided or self-guided multi-day overland safari tours.
|Partnered with official conservation organisations, including the Charles Darwin Foundation, WWF, Carbonfund.org, Tread Lightly, Reforest Patagonia, and Galapagos National Park. Minimises onboard waste. Tours are carbon neutral. Quasar supports Lucy In The Andes, a women’s empowerment program in Ecuador.
|Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Colombia.
|Multi-day educational sea life conservation tours and volunteering trips.
|The company supports local sea turtle conservation programs with funding and volunteering.
|Seven-night cruises with snorkelling, nature walks, hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, glass-bottom boat tours
|Cruises on energy-efficient mega-yachts. Ecoventura supports the Charles Darwin Foundation.
New Milestone Tours
|Multi-day overland expeditions through remote Mongolia, including the Gobi Desert.
|Employs local guides. Brings trade to nomadic Mongolian communities.
|Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, India
|Multi-day ecological trekking tours (1-27 days)
|Operates a strict waste management system. Fair wages paid to guides and employees. Supports local charities.
|Multi-day safari tours with luxury Eco lodging
|Accommodation is provided in camps/lodges with minimal environmental impact. Many camps/lodges are solar-powered, employ staff from local communities, and enforce recycling programs. All guests are given reusable water bottles, and plastic straws are banned. Elewana Collection supports The Land and Life Foundation. Certified by multiple international ecotourism bodies.
|New Orleans, Louisiana – Alaska, USA – Argentinian Patagonia – Rwanda – Tanzania – Cuba – Ecuador.
|Multi-day adventure-based vacations. Options include trekking, kayaking, boating, cultural tours, wildlife safari, and swamp tours.
|Carbon offsetting for all trips. Contributions to nonprofits. Supports endangered species. Uses locally owned businesses. Provides guests with a reusable water bottle. Educates about environmental issues and local culture.
|Flight bookings with carbon offsets. When you book a flight via Fly Green, they earn a commission from the airlines and use that commission to offset the CO2 emissions of your flight.
|Carbon compensated hotel bookings. Each reservation you make Good Wings shares the profit with a nonprofit of your choice. B-Corps Certified. They partner Carbonfund.org.
|Operates in over 120 countries worldwide
|Multi-day adventure cruises, trekking tours, cycling tours, food tours (including a vegan food tour), polar expeditions, and family adventure tours.
|The company is B Corp certified and carbon neutral – they aim to become carbon positive. The company supports human rights initiatives, conservation projects, and local economies. The company funds The Intrepid Foundation.
|Operates in over 45 countries.
|Multi-day nature themes tours, including safari, small-ship cruises to remote regions, photography excursions, and trekking.
|Nat Hab is carbon neutral and created the World’s First Zero Waste Adventure. Partnered with WWF. Uses green office policies. Supports conservation organisations. Operates small group tours (average group size of 9 people).
|Tours operate in over 30 countries around the world, including Bulgaria, Namibia, Argentina, Jordan, Mauritius, and Tasmania.
|Multi-day wildlife and nature itineraries with overnight accommodation. Adventure activities include wildlife watching and safari tours, birding, cycling, hiking, horseback riding, water sports, and rainforest excursions.
|Provides eco-certified ecotourism experiences worldwide. Green Loons only partner with local guides/guiding companies that specialise in nature, wildlife, and cultural tours, and companies that have eco-tourism certifications from recognised organisations. All accommodation should have received and environmental or conservation award.
About the author
Originally from the UK and currently based in Turkey, Beth Carter is a full-time adventurer, former scout, and vegan traveller. When she’s not hiking long-distance trails with an oversized pack on her shoulders, you’ll probably find her peddling up and down scenic roads, or pitching a tent in a far-off mountain range. On the odd occasion, you might even see her sitting at a keyboard, coffee at the ready, typing about her latest outdoor pursuit.