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Adventure travel is big business in Mexico and nowhere is that more on display than at the third annual Adventure Travel Mexico (ATMEX) conference in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, which took place in August.
Last year, it was revealed in a survey by the George Washington University and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) that adventure travel was a nearly $3 billion industry ($2.63 billion to be exact). To illustrate this exponential growth, Shannon Stowell, president of ATTA, noted that the organization was the perfect example.
"Ten years ago, the ATTA started with a handful of tour operators," he said. "Today, there are more than 1,000 members in 80 countries."
Knowing these numbers, you can see the potential in the adventure travel industry - and the opportunity that lies within it is vast.
Segmentation of the Market
Part of why adventure travel is so popular is that it encompasses a wide variety of products. There is a lot of segmentation in the travel industry and adventure can be paired with many different types of vacations.
One of the reasons why it is so diverse is that adventure travel has broad appeal and not all adventurers are made the same. For one thing, there are different types of adventure: soft adventure, hard adventure, activities that are "adventurous" just because they take you out of your comfort zone. But there are also different categories of travelers. The ATTA has identified a new way of categorizing those groups and looked at how they are segmented within the travel market.
For example, they identified Grazers, who are travelers who want to sample the adventure travel market but it's not the only way they want to travel. This group makes up approximately 24 percent of the market. Adventurers, those who seek out experiential opportunities, make up about 20 percent of the market. Adventure Enthusiasts, those who are most likely to want the hard adventure experiences, make up about 7.5 percent of the market and the Up-and-Coming Adventurer makes up approximately 14 percent. Mass travelers make up about 34 percent of consumers in the adventure travel market as well but should not be considered "interested in adventure."
Not only does adventure entice a wide variety of travelers, but it is also of interest to a diverse age group of travelers. Indeed, adventure travel spans generations and, while Millennials get a lot of attention these days, Gen-X finally has something to cheer about. Adventure travel is primarily driven by them. In fact, the average adventure traveler is a 47-year-old female. Go ladies!
Adventure Industry Snapshot
With so much interest, where is the adventure travel industry headed? All over the world. The ATTA put together a snapshot of the industry based on feedback from its members that showed that there is significant interest in almost every part of the globe. Countries that showed the most interest changed little from previous years with South America and Southern Africa topping the list, followed by Eastern and Western Europe. Regions that are garnering increased interest over the previous year include the Arctic, Australasia, Northern Africa and the Middle East.
There have also been significant changes in what travelers want to do when they take an adventure trip. More and more clients will be looking to book custom itineraries, which tops the list.
It is followed by increased interest in activities that are considered soft adventure such as kayaking and walking tours. And, family and multigenerational adventure activities also topped the list, which makes sense as this is a growing trend in the travel industry as a whole. Surprisingly, cultural-based adventures and volunteering during an adventure trip lost ground, with declining interest.
While the travel industry continues to heat up as a whole and with travel agents making a comeback, the growing interest in adventure travel is a surefire way to garner the interest of potential clients.
Janeen Christoff caught the travel bug while living in London, England. After two years on the road, she settled in Los Angeles...
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