NEW YORK — Adventure travel is not just for the under-40 set 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 by Travel Leaders Group in partnership with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA).
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. Eighty-six percent 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 percent of adventure travelers fall into the 51-60 age bracket.
The survey also revealed that 65 percent of survey respondents stated the majority of their adventure travel business involves trips of seven to 10 days in length and another 21 percent are most commonly booking journeys of 11 days or longer. From a pricing standpoint, 30 percent of respondents said adventure travelers are spending $2,000 to 3,000 per person on average, another 33 percent cited an average spend of between $3,000 to 5,000 per person, and 22.5 percent indicated consumers are typically spending $5,000 or more per person on average.
“Clearly, adventure travel is on the rise and the average age of adventure travelers is expanding,” says 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.”
Russell Walters, regional director for the Adventure Travel Trade Association, adds “As a $683 billion industry and growing, adventure travel is clearly booming and becoming more and more popular.”
Another insight from the survey is that the percentage of male versus female adventure travelers varied by only one percentage point (50.5 percent male; 49.5 percent female). However, a majority of the decision-making with respect to purchasing adventure travel is done by females (64 percent), consistent with travel purchase trends in the larger travel industry. The survey results also showed a strong mix of novice versus experienced adventure travelers.
The top 10 adventure travel destinations, according to the survey are: Western Europe (France, Italy, Germany, U.K., Norway, Switzerland, etc.); Central America (Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala); North America (U.S. and Canada); Caribbean; South Pacific (New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti); South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador); Mexico; Africa; Central Europe (Austria, Czech Republic, Poland); and South and Southeast Asia (India, Malaysia).
The top 10 types of adventure travel most-often booked (based on categories as defined by ATTA) are: cultural tours; hiking, walking, or trekking; culinary and foodie; scuba diving or snorkeling; small ship expedition cruises; sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking, or kayak touring; biking, road biking, or mountain biking; safaris; rafting; and multi-sport (i.e. hiking, biking, and/or kayaking 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.