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Adventure travel more recession proof than other sectors

Tourists continue to seek adventure

ADVENTURE travel is not immune but is more recession proof to global downturn than other segments of the tourism industry, according to Chris Doyle, vice president, Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA).
“Adventure travellers are passionate about what they do, view travel as a fundamental part of their lifestyle and identity and will cut back on other items of expenditures before they cut back on their adventure trips,” he said, commenting on the 2008 Adventure Industry Research Roundup, an extensive report on the adventure travel industry released late last year.
The report was compiled by Xola Consulting, research services specialists and the ATTA both based in the USA. However, as Doyle points out, this report was finished in August 2008, and since then there have been many developments making a significant impact on tourism. The global economic downturn was affecting people in developing as well as developed economies, and all were examining how the uncertainty would play out in various regions.
“Baby Boomers, many of whom have experienced significant financial losses in recent weeks, may be expected to delay their adventure planning until they have a better sense of their future finances,” he said.
The advice to mid range adventure companies was to offset a loss in Baby Boomer bookings by focusing on younger travellers who were still building careers and finances.
“Although Xola believes the core adventure traveller characteristics will hold in the current environment, it is undoubtedly a more complex and competitive adventure market than it was even five years ago. The economic downturn as well as the credit-crunch/liquidity crisis will require specific regions and companies around the world to take a serious look at their competitive position and evaluate all aspects of business from products to marketing to staff management,” said Doyle.
Leading US based adventure tourism operators contacted for their views on the current situation, reported a slowdown in new bookings for some regions of the world, however they continued to believe that adventure travellers will carry on spending on high value experiences, and that maintaining good customer relationships will sustain their business during the downturn. Operators were looking at cost reducing strategies but were planning to put more energy into developing targeted marketing programmes.
Adventure travel is generally defined by industry leaders to include a mix of adrenaline sports such as whitewater rafting, softer nature experiences such as birdwatching, and cultural engagement and learning.
The report features trend information and in-depth analyses about the countries, consumers and industry players engaged in adventure travel, and covers a wide range of subjects from operations to marketing. It also provides statistical data to support business planning and decision making.
Trends such as the significant growth in tours that offer biking, diving, sailing, surfing and expedition cruising are discussed in detail. Other trends analysed include unexpected luxury in remote, exotic locations; an emphasis on personal growth; and ‘front country’ recreation - areas relatively close to home where busy people can enjoy outdoor activities after work.
In addition to sections on global, regional and traveller trends, the 2008 report also provides analyses on supply chain trends, destination rankings and travel news.
A free summary of the report is available at www.xolaconsulting.com/industry-research.php
ATTA has only two members in the Middle East: Adventure Iran (based there) and Gateways to Egypt based in Cairo. Discussions are however, underfoot to promote the association in various locations in the area – in Jordan ATTA are working at the tourism board level (ATTA President Shannon Stowell is speaking at a conference there this month) and also in Libya, according to Doyle.
The next Adventure Travel World Summit takes place in Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, Québec, Canada October 19 to 22.

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