Adventure tourism involves any kind of activity or adventure in places unique to the traveller, providing challenges through the experiences of culture and activities that promote physical health, excitement and fun.
Adventure tourism contains essential elements that make up the entire experience (nature, activity, and culture), which are used by the travel trade to understand whether a specific product can be classified as ‘adventure travel’. These elements come together to deliver specific types of experiences for travellers who are motivated by goals such as transformation, challenge and wellness.
Adventure tourism types
According to the World Tourism Organization, there are two main categories of adventure tourism:
Soft adventure travel is relatively safe and hardly requires skills and experience. Some examples include backpacking, birdwatching, camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, safaris, sailing and surfing.
Soft tourism activities are more sustainable and create a higher level of community benefit. It is often related to low impact activities such as wildlife watching, safer and more sustainable for the environment.
Hard adventure travel is riskier and requires more skills and experience, for example 4×4 offroading experiences, climbing mountains, trekking, caving, and other similar extreme experiences.
Silence – Quiet, Space and Time
- A feeling of escapism is a highly important motive for the slow adventurer and when it is achieved in nature, it prompts a strong sense of de-stressing in the individual.
- The slow adventurer believes in the importance of making time to spend in nature and this time is most often activity driven. Nature is already a significant element in the slow adventurer’s life and in many cases, is in contrast to the tasks undertaken in their working lives. The opportunity to spend further time in nature is desirable. Seeking a work-life balance is important and nature is viewed as a re-energizer.
- Linked to this, slow adventure opens up opportunities for ‘switching off the clock’. Mid- way through the crossing on a sea kayaking trip a whale broke the surface some distance in front of the group. It brought them into a new way of being here – they were now operating on ‘whale time’: the group was now guided by the whale.
Communities and Belonging
- Self-time in nature and shared time with friends in nature are important motives. Slow adventurers enjoy being out in nature’s elements and enjoy the associated exercise and fitness demands. A sense of connectedness and heritage is important, particularly in terms of place.
- The slow adventurer has regular experiences of nature’s power and beauty. They have a willingness to share such experiences with others, and these help strengthen bonds.
- Positive emotions such as joy, peacefulness and thankfulness are expressed in terms of the natural beauty of the landscape, and these emotions are intensified when experienced through adventure and activities in the outdoors. Mental and bodily strength are important components for the slow adventurer and pain in the form of exhaustion or cold for example, may also be experienced at times.
Uncertainty and Quality Assurance
- Slow adventure clients, and consumer trends in general, point to a desire for bespoke experiences which can change according to opportunity and situation.
- Particular concerns for the slow adventurer include weather conditions, escape routes, lack of experience and in a more reflective way, self- exposure.
Getting Involved – Living and Learning the Wilderness Dream
- They are internally motivated and open to experiences that are unique, educational and nature focused.
- Activity in the outdoors is driven by the slow adventurer’s love of nature and their willingness to learn new skills and knowledge.
- The slow adventurer finds wonder in the vastness of nature, one’s proximity to nature and the folklore that enriches the natural environment. They talk about little details in nature and enjoy eating or trying foraged or wild food.
Sharing the Magic Of Wild Places
- Importantly, slow adventurer target groups are very likely to urge others such as family and friends to give it a go. Grasping a challenge or just escaping into the beauty of the landscape is actively encouraged.
- This is further supported by the enthusiastic embrace of social media platforms. This, if supported by entrepreneurs, is credible, free and effective marketing.