Not everyone is attracted to adventure tourism! Young people are an obvious market, given that they:
- ... generally less conservative or cautious. It is natural for people to seek challenges and to feel they are more or less “infallible” when young,
- ... may have a greater disposable income because they are not tied down by mortgages and family responsibilities.
Adventure tourism is not exclusively the domain of the young though; nor are all young people attracted to adventure tourism. Lifestyle, as well as age, is a key factor in identifying those people who choose an adventurous holiday in preference to a more leisurely holiday. Adventure tourists typically have a reasonable level of fitness, a good income, a desire for adventure and excitement, a willingness to participate in new experiences, and an interest in nature. These attributes are found across all age groups, not just young people.
Who then is a potential adventure tourist customer, and what is that person likely to want from their holiday? The following section describes the broad market demographics of adventure tourists.
- Young adults. Typically this group is more likely to participate in thrill-seeking activities such as white water rafting, rock climbing or caving. Young adults tend to prefer group holidays, with other similar-aged people. Accommodation and transport is often at the lower end of the market; for example, in backpacker hotels, group lodges, and similar shared accommodation. Many in this group are independent travellers ‘backpackers’ following their own loosely-planned, flexible itinerary. Backpackers often book several organised day or short trips such as bungee-jumping or parachuting, usually at short notice, as part their longer holiday.
- Retirees. This group are ‘empty nesters’ with ample time to spend on holidays. They are keen to seek new experiences and visit new places. They are often interested in cultural experiences as well as participating in moderate to low-level physical activities. Their holidays are at the high end of the market with comfortable accommodation and transport. Organised package holidays are popular amongst this age group.
- Families. This group is seen as an emerging trend in the adventure tourism industry. Popular family holidays include camping, cycling, skiing and hiking. Some even join group package tours or travel to remote places in less developed countries.
Other customer market segments include religious tourists, gay tourists and sex tourists – all of which have their own obvious requirements.
Tourists will be motivated by different factors to participate in an adventure tourism activity. The four main factors which tourists can be placed on the spectrum of are:
- Relaxation Vs Activity
- Luxury Vs Roughing it
- Break from Routine Vs Adventure
- Seeing Vs Doing
Those more inclined towards activity, rough living, adventure and doing; are more inclined towards adventure tourism.
Adventurers have a number of attributes that set them apart from other tourists. They take risks and thrive from mental and physical challenges by seeking out stimulating and challenging experiences. They often do this for personal development, to develop self-esteem or simply because it helps them escape the routines of everyday life. They seek excitement and new frontiers. Also worth noting is the growing trend towards healthier lifestyles and a more tuned awareness to green issues and conscious consumerism. These trends are reflected in people’s travel options and interests. For example, more people are going on active holidays and there has been a huge increase in wildlife safari holidays or wildlife watching tours. All these changing patterns are advantageous to the growth in interest in adventure tourism.
Adventure tourists reach their holiday ‘peaks’ through activities that involve risk taking, excitement, self-discovery, escapism, and socialising. These are the inner needs that urge individuals to participate in adventure. These are the push factors. The pull factors might include rugged environment destinations, or rare bird or animal species. Experience such environments and the activities within them may lead to dreams being fulfilled or inner peace and harmony. Deep reflections on the connection we all have with nature and the beauty of life in its simplicity can inspire people to make changes in their everyday life. Adventure travel can be a powerful antidote to life’s everyday problems.