ADVENTURE TOURISM DEFINED

The graphic below demonstrates the new definition of adventure tourism derived as a result of recent research.*

On the left side of the graphic, the components of an adventure trip from the provider perspective are elaborated: nature, culture, and activity, with experience at the core. For adventure travel providers, recognizing how the individual elements come together to deliver an overall experience underscores the importance of considering the components of a trip as individual ingredients, and of staying attuned to how they all fit together. This might mean considering carefully the sequencing of activities, the duration, and the time given for talking about or reflecting on the experience. In addition, the components of adventure travel are located within the concept of impact. For developers of adventure travel products, the impact is an important consideration. Considering and planning for impact is a basic, foundational concern; all travel providers are operating in an environment in which they have an impact on the places they visit.

From an activity perspective, the traveler conception of “adventure” is always shifting. A sampling of activities associated with adventure travel could include joining an archaeological expedition; backpacking; bird-watching; camping, caving; climbing; getting to know the locals; hiking; horseback riding; kayaking; whitewater rafting; learning a new language; orienteering; joining a research
expedition or safari; sailing, scuba diving; snorkeling; skiing and snowboarding; surfing; trekking; and many others.

From the traveler’s perspective, on the right side of the graphic, research indicates that adventure travel is motivated by a variety of longings and desires that influence how travelers consume and emotionally process their trip. Travelers are seeking mental and physical wellness, novel and unique
experiences, challenge—whether physical or cultural—and often, ultimately, transformation. Travelers are also keenly aware of their impact and have a desire to have a positive impact on the environment and communities they visit.

To meet the definition of adventure travel, a trip must take an individual outside of his or her regular environment for more than twenty-four hours—and for no longer than one year—and include at least two of the following three experiences: participation in a physical activity, a visit to a natural environment, and a culturally immersive experience. (Trips longer than one year are not considered “travel” in the research context.)

*Viren, Paige, et al. (2017). “North American Adventure Travelers: Seeking Personal Growth, New Destinations,
and Immersive Culture.” ATTA