The 20 Trends Driving Adventure Travel this Year

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Prepare to get splashed in this amazing rafting adventure at Jatunyacu River with Rios Ecuador. Photo courtesy of ATTA by Hassen Salum

The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) has released a new report outlining 20 Adventure Trends to Watch in 2018, a comprehensive look at the issues facing adventure travel businesses and destinations this year and beyond.

Now a decade after the global economic recession that hit tourism hard in 2008, tourism growth has recovered, and 2018 is shaping up to be another milestone year for paddlesports businesses and other adventure travel operators around the world. While it may seem surprising that in an increasingly unpredictable world where natural disasters and terrorism hit major tourism destinations and borders are tighter and nationalist rhetoric is stronger, tourism numbers continue to grow. But not only did these numbers grow, according to ATTA, but tourism overall outpaced the growth of the global economy, contributing to economic growth, job creation, and tax revenues around the world.

“Our sector continues to grow and, along with it, the responsibilities of managing sustainable growth, protecting vulnerable communities, and safeguarding the planet’s most pristine places,” said Shannon Stowell, CEO of the ATTA. “The ATTA is looking to ramp up several initiatives in 2018, including continued support of the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund to support conservation organizations and AdventureEDU trainings to ensure tourism entrepreneurs on the front lines of business have the knowledge and tools they need to operate sustainably and deliver a strong conservation message to their guests. In addition, we will continue to put on events around the world to connect the industry to important resources, knowledge, and, of course, each other.”

The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) is focusing on several initiatives in 2018, including anactive commitment to conserve and preserve the natural environments in which the adventure travel industry thrives.

Research suggests that growth will continue, but tourism trends may fluctuate. As a result of crisis and shocks, some destinations will benefit more than others, and as democracy declines in some destinations, traveling to them may be a riskier proposition than before.

New technologies are impacting the adventure travel space. Blockchain seems to offer compelling opportunities for disintermediation, while bots and virtual reality becoming more sought after as marketing tools.

Examining traveler trends, research shows people are becoming more adventurous, seeking to be “temporary locals” when they visit new places. The tendency to adopt slow travel means visitors are staying in destinations longer, and more people are venturing out by themselves, driving an upswing in solo offerings from adventure tourism providers.

On the supply side, expect to see an increase in trail tourism, women-only itineraries, and an exploration into how to increase interest in winter products, which may help destinations smooth out visitors over the course of a year.

Finally, the report examines trends facing adventure destinations. Both overtourism and undertourism are issues in various places, and holistic planning will be required to ensure adventure tourism growth is not only sustainable but also contributes to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The report examines 20 trends in five chapters:

Section A: The Big Picture
Trend 1: Adventure Tourism Continues To Grow
Trend 2: Instability Creates Shifts In Tourism Flows
Trend 3: Adventure Departures From China Increase
Trend 4: Decline In Democracy Increases Risks
Section B: Technology Trends
Trend 5: Bots Will Rule Customer Service
Trend 6: Virtual Reality Becomes An In-Demand Marketing Tool
Trend 7: Big Data Providing Answers For The Future
Trend 8: Blockchain Technology May Fuel Disintermediation In Adventure Travel
Section C: Travel Experience Trends
Trend 9: Solo Travel On The Rise
Trend 10: Being Local As The Ultimate Adventure
Trend 11: ‘Slow Travel’ In Increasingly Adventurous Destinations
Trend 12: Travelers Seek Wellness And Mental Health Benefits In Itineraries
Section D: Product Trends
Trend 13: Transformative Experiences Become A Focus Of Experience Design
Trend 14: Increase In Trail Tourism
Trend 15: Increase In Products For Female Adventure Travelers
Trend 16: Winter Products
Trend 17: Pre-Fab Pop-Ups Provide A Little Luxury In Remote Places
Section E: Destination Trends
Trend 18: To Prepare To Avoid The Problems Of Overtourism
Trend 19: Undertourism An Unexpected Concern
Trend 20: Holistic Approaches To Tourism Development

Click here to download the free 20 Adventure Trends to Watch in 2018 report.

Established in 1990, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) today is widely recognized as a vital leadership voice and partner for the adventure travel industry around the world.

The membership and trade organization is designed to be a force for the industry and exists to drive thought leadership, industry promotion, and opportunities to network and convene globally to create trade and business health. It currently serves more than 1,000 members in 100 countries worldwide. The constituency is made up of tour operators, tourism boards, specialty agents, and accommodations all sharing a vested interest in the sustainable development of adventure tourism.

Through its growing business services division, the ATTA delivers a portfolio of strategic solutions and a robust ecosystem of events around the globe. Those events include AdventureNEXT which focuses on regional promotion and partnerships; AdventureELEVATE a North American-based educational conference; and the premiere adventure travel global conference, the Adventure Travel World Summit. With specialized expertise in research, events, education, media, and promotion, the ATTA business service division is able to provide valuable solutions to a broad set of partners across many verticals of business.