Adventure Travel Survey Reveals Most Popular Destinations and Activities

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Photo by Philipp Dubach of Zurich Airport

It turns out adventure travel is not just for the under 40 age group nor the exclusive domain of experienced adventure enthusiasts anymore – and the majority of those booking adventure travel are spending significant money on one-week or longer trips, according to newly released survey results.

The recently concluded survey was conducted by Travel Leaders Group, one of the country’s largest travel agency companies, in partnership with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), which is a global authority on adventure travel.

The survey — which is the first of a planned annual benchmarking of active and adventure travel — was conducted among leisure-selling travel agents, primarily those who specialize in adventure travel. 86% of the respondents indicated they’ve experienced growth in their adventure travel sales over the past three years. Also of note, the number of respondents who reported that the average age of adventure travelers falls into the 29-40 age range versus 41-50 age range differed by only one percentage point, and a healthy 22% of adventure travelers falls into the 51-60 age bracket.

The survey also revealed:

65% of survey respondents stated the majority of their adventure travel business involves trips of 7 to 10 days in length and another 21% are most commonly booking journeys of 11 days or longer.

30% of respondents said adventure travelers are spending $2,000-3,000 per person on average; another 33% cited an average spend of between $3,000-5,000 per person and 22.5% indicated consumers are typically spending $5,000-plus per person on average.

“Clearly, adventure travel is on the rise and the average age of adventure travelers is expanding,” said John Lovell, CTC, President of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group.

Consumers are focused more and more on authentic, transformational and exciting travel experiences, which is helping to fuel the growth in adventure travel. And we are seeing many consumers spending big dollars on adventure travel to far-flung destinations on longer journeys as well as many who are combining active and adventure travel with some luxury elements.

Added Russell Walters, Regional Director for the Adventure Travel Trade Association,

As a $683 billion industry and growing, adventure travel is clearly booming and becoming more and more popular.

Other interesting facts from the survey:

The percentage of male versus female adventure travelers varied by only one percentage point (50.5% male; 49.5% female). However, a majority of the decision-making with respect to purchasing adventure travel is done by females (64%), consistent with travel purchase trends in the larger travel industry. The survey results showed a strong mix of novice versus experienced adventure travelers.

Switzerland cable car over the Alps
Photo by Leila Azevedo

The top 10 Adventure Travel Destinations

  1. Western Europe (France, Italy, Germany, U.K., Norway, Switzerland, etc.)
  2. Central America (Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala)
  3. North America (U.S. and Canada)
  4. Caribbean
  5. South Pacific (New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti)
  6. South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador)
  7. Mexico
  8. Africa
  9. Central Europe (Austria, Czech Republic, Poland)
  10. South and Southeast Asia (India, Malaysia)

The top 10 types of Adventure Travel Most-Often Booked:

(based on categories as defined by ATTA)

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  1. Cultural Tours
  2. Hiking/Walking/Trekking
  3. Culinary and Foodie
  4. Scuba Diving/Snorkeling
  5. Small Ship Expedition Cruises
  6. Sea Kayaking/Whitewater Kayaking/Kayak Touring
  7. Biking/Road Biking/Mountain Biking
  8. Safaris
  9. Rafting
  10. Multi-sport (i.e., hike/bike/kayak in one trip)

The survey indicated that adventure travelers are booking a mix of pre-organized tour operator packages and customized independent trips with neither category strongly leading the other, indicating open opportunities for all sectors of the industry.

Furthermore, consumers seeking a travel agent who is an adventure travel specialist may visit and search by specialty. In addition to active and adventure travel, Travel Leaders Network travel professionals also specialize in leisure and luxury travel, business travel, honeymoon and destination weddings – as well as active and adventure travel.

providing transparency in a booming travel industry is good for everyone — travelers and operators. And most importantly, through understanding what people want most when planning their adventures, providers can more effectively curate their services to enhance the user experience associated with ‘going on an adventure.’ The future looks bright for travel. So, as they say, where to next?!

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