Travel businesses are focused on offering safer products that boost in-destination economies as an industry survey matches adventure travel demand with traveler motivation.
Safety and sustainability appear to be key elements shaping the business of adventure travel for members who responded to the 2023 Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) Industry Snapshot Survey.
Tour operators have seen their highest spend ratio in favor of local suppliers: An estimated 76% of the median price of $3,000 for an 8-night trip. These figures speak to the industry’s “commitment to community engagement and sustainable environmental practices”, Heather Kelly, ATTA’s director of Research & Sustainability, stated in the report.
ATTA members have also doubled-down on safety, with survey results showing 85% of them have a documented safety and risk management plan. Meanwhile, 68% are holding or working toward a sustainability certification, a notable increase from 45% in the previous year.
Hiking, trekking, or walking ranked as the most popular travel adventure preference for 2022, after being momentarily toppled by Electric Biking in 2021. The industry is seeing demand for culture-oriented activities, culinary or gastronomy and mountain biking experiences.
Camping and canoeing have also bounced back, as have activities like backpacking, horseback riding, and snorkeling in the past few years.
The survey, completed by 110 respondents with an additional 34 partially completed, showed that the average number of travelers served by respondents was 4,243, a 213% increase from 2021.
Adventure travelers, aged between 29 and 60, continue to be motivated by new, off-the-beaten-path experiences, along with an immersive local cultural approach and the allure of trips seen to be status symbols. The need for an adrenaline rush or trip that provides a challenging element has found its way onto the top 10 motivations radar for the first time in 2022.
Of the destinations seeing the most bookings, the Mediterranean, Western Europe and South America ranked as the top three trending destinations.
Custom itineraries reign supreme, followed by newly popular categories in the annual survey, such as solo travelers, off-peak travel, and travelers wanting to take longer trips.
Europe and America remained the fastest recovered markets, as revenue, trip fill rates, and staffing levels shifted within reach of pre-pandemic levels across ATTAs global network.
Shannon Stowell, ATTA CEO, cautioned that a volatile labor market meant travel companies must focus on employee retention more.