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New research shows adventure travellers’ relationship with risk

New research shows adventure travellers’ relationship with risk
November 8, 2017

A newly released study on adventure tourism has revealed that adventure travellers feel that culture and learning is far more important to their experience than risk.

Researchers Paige Viren and Alison Murray from East Carolina University in the USA, in collaboration with Outside magazine and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), have recently released North American Adventure Travelers: Seeking Personal Growth, New Destinations and Immersive Culture, a research report examining a number of developments related to adventure travel.

The survey replicated elements of a similar study conducted 10 years ago, allowing researchers to identify shifts in traveller preferences, priorities and mindsets through natural, cultural, and activity-related encounters.

Although the in-depth study provides a wealth of specific information related to shifts in activity preferences, plans, and personality, one of the most intriguing findings was travellers’ somewhat inconsistent relationship with risk.

When asked about benefits they receive from their adventure travel experiences, respondents made statements related to learning and growth, such as “seeing the world and learning new things.”

They said they were seeking life-changing experiences that would expand their worldview or provide mental escape.

These motivations have been remarkably stable since 2006: Transformation, expanded worldview, nature and discovery, and learning were all leading motivators for adventure travel in 2006 as well. The most notable shift in motivation during this period has been the prioritisation of mental health over fun and thrill. Adventure travellers in 2016 offered answers that hinted at the concept of challenge, but terms such as ‘risk’ or ‘danger’ were not directly mentioned among their perceived benefits.

Activities that adventure travellers now engage in include: ‘hiking’, ‘visiting friends or family’, ‘stand-up paddleboarding’, ‘visiting historical sites’ and ‘getting to know the locals’.

The study also suggests that activities such as backpacking, trekking, kayaking and rafting growing in popularity “a picture of a mainstream, soft adventure travel emerges.”

It adds “10 years ago, for example, ‘climbing - mountain or rock’ topped the list of activities considered to be in the adventure category.

Now climbing follows a set of much less technical activities in travellers’ conception of adventure.

An introduction to the report explains “the research confirms what many of the best commercial adventure tour operators understand: Even travellers who seem to favour so-called ‘soft’ adventure, need and want to be challenged in some way.

“Challenge can deliver the magic of the trip, providing the feeling of growth or transformation that is the ultimate benefit many adventurers say they are expecting from their travels.

“The challenge might present itself through a risky physical undertaking planned by the tour operator or through something unexpected.

“Adventure travellers might not want actual risk - they will not identify it as something that motivates their travel decision-making - but they will likely enjoy the feeling of danger (once it has passed and nothing damaging has occurred, of course).

Given the fact travellers are not mentioning risk as a motivating factor, it is may not be advisable to emphasize it in trip marketing, but trip developers should be aware that adventure travel trips without some element of risk or aspect that challenges travellers will not deliver on their deeper goals.”

The complete research study is now available for download.

Click here to download North American Adventure Travelers: Seeking Personal Growth, New Destinations and Immersive Culture.

Main image courtesy of Wildwire Wanaka.

17th November 2016 - AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND RANKED AMONG TOP ADVENTURE TOURISM DESTINATIONS 

24th October 2016 - AJ HACKETT JUMPS INTO NEW INTERNATIONAL TERRITORY WITH MAJOR PROJECTS

15th March 2016 - WORLD-FIRST APP TO UNITE ADVENTURE TRAVELLERS AROUND THE WORLD 

3rd February 2016 - MASSIVE GROWTH IN BUSHWALKING AS ‘GREEN EXERCISE’ AND HOLIDAY ACTIVITY

16th January 2016 - ASIAN TRAVELLERS SEEK NEW EXPERIENCES 

11th December 2015 - INTERNATIONAL ADVENTURE TRAVEL GUIDE QUALIFICATION AND PERFORMANCE STANDARD LAUNCHED 

28th May 2015 - NEPAL GOVERNMENT PREPARES ACTION PLAN FOR TOURISM INDUSTRY RECOVERY

1st May 2015 - CULTURAL LOSSES ADD TO HUMAN TOLL IN THE WAKE OF NEPAL EARTHQUAKE

30th November 2014 - UN REPORT SHOWS GROWING VALUE OF GLOBAL ADVENTURE TOURISM

4th June 2013 - GROWTH IN EXTREME ACTIVITIES AS YOUNGER PEOPLE MOVE AWAY FROM ‘STRUCTURED’ SPORT 

12th April 2013 - AUCKLAND COUNCIL LAUNCHES MULTI-DAY KAYAK TRAIL

3rd April 2013 - ADVENTURE TRAVEL TRADE ASSOCIATION RELEASES VALUES STATEMENT AS MEMBERSHIP PREREQUISITE

4th November 2012 - ATTA AND UNWTO TO ADVANCE RESPONSIBLE ADVENTURE TRAVEL 

29th September 2010 - NEW COASTAL PARK PURCHASED BY ARC


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The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

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