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New research indicates adventure travel increasingly includes immersive experiences, cultural encounters

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Though that thrilling adrenaline rush and an opportunity to be pampered still entice adventure travelers, they are increasingly seeking out new and immersive experiences, cultural encounters, and soft adventure activities, according to the 2019 Adventure Travel Trends Snapshot.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) has released its annual Industry Snapshot Report, a compilation of data resulting from a survey of adventure travel industry operators on topics such as destinations, activities, and industry business practices. The 2019 report is broken into two documents: Adventure Travel Trends Snapshot and Adventure Travel Financial Snapshot.

The Adventure Travel Trends Snapshot reveals industry insights such as top-of-mind adventure destinations, average trip length, common operational practices, and more. The Adventure Travel Financial Snapshot details complementary information highlighting the financial status of the industry.

Though that thrilling adrenaline rush and an opportunity to be pampered still entice adventure travelers, they are increasingly seeking out new and immersive experiences, cultural encounters, and soft adventure activities, according to the 2019 Adventure Travel Trends Snapshot. This year, adventure travel companies say their travelers are motivated chiefly by “new experiences” and that they want “to travel like a local.” Additionally, adventure travel companies say their clients are more motivated by cultural encounters than wellness goals or engaging in adventure travel as a status symbol.

As the industry continues its evolution to include more cultural and less technical adventure activities, the Adventure Travel Financial Snapshot notes that 83% of survey respondents report their 2018 gross revenues surpassed 2017 gross revenues, and 59% expect a net profit increase for 2019. Thirty-five percent say the key factor driving the growth is new customers.

“Our report reveals findings that align with some of the current traveler behavior trends we are seeing in broader context. As the contemporary person seeks different opportunities for personal growth, how they choose to travel is influenced too,” said Milena Nikolova, the ATTA’s director of knowledge and AdventureEDU.

Additional key findings from the Industry Snapshot Report include:

  • Top adventure activities are hiking, cycling, safaris, culinary activities, and wellness-focused activities.
  • Custom itineraries remain in high consumer demand.
  • Outbound adventure tour operators report the following regions experienced significantly increased client interest in the past year: Scandinavia, South America, Northern and Southern Africa, and the Middle East.
  • Forty-three percent of adventure travel tour operators’ clients are between the ages of 51 and 70.
  • The average age of the adventure traveler is 49 years old.
  • The average cost per day of a trip in North America in 2018 was $439 USD.
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