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How Travel Agents can benefit from the fast-growing adventure travel sector

Adventure Tourism has reached its adolescent years and is poised for a massive growth spurt that will take an even bigger bite out of the travel pie. Travel Agents: it's time to board the adventure train.

Adventure Tourism has reached its adolescent years and is poised for a massive growth spurt that will take an even bigger bite out of the travel pie. Travel Agents: it’s time to board the adventure train.

Adventure travel – it’s a hard niche to measure in exact numbers, as this style of travelling can be defined in so many ways.

Traditionally, the sector was defined by the willingness of its travellers to venture to unusual, exotic, remote, or wilderness destinations, often combined with activities that included some physical risk or exertion on their part.

These days, it’s often defined by its emphasis on sustainable travel and supporting local communities (in addition to the above) – which is something we’re focusing on this year at KarryOn in our push to help the world see how travel can actually change the world.

But we don’t need hard statistical evidence to notice a growing trend in the popularity of tours that take travellers well off the beaten track, often pushing them to their physical and mental limits as they cycle for days through the Italian countryside or sit down for mint tea with Berber tribes in Morocco.

And anyway, there’s enough anecdotal evidence floating around from the big players in the adventure travel sector, so we can just hear it straight from them.

Speaking to KarryOn, Dan Coleman from G Adventures has definitely noticed a trend amongst the travelling populace towards seeking out off-the-radar destinations for exploration.

From a G perspective, travellers appetite for adventure has never been stronger. We’re finding an increasing interest from travellers who are looking to explore lesser-known destinations, such as Iran, Iceland or Kazakhstan.

Dan Coleman, NSW/ACT Global Purpose Specialist at G Adventures.


Credit: G Adventures

G Adventures is also noticing strong demand from both male and female travellers for more active holidays that incorporate hiking, cycling, kayaking, surfing and SUP’ing.

“Some of our most popular Active trips include hiking Kilimanjaro or trekking Base Camp, cycling through Vietnam or Loire Valley, or even a multisport through Peru (which I’m leaving to do next Thursday, training started an hour ago…).”

But adventurous Aussies needn’t even pack their passports to grab their dose of the exotic.

Intrepid have recently incorporated a native food menu on to their central and top end itineraries, giving travellers an authentic taste of the outback. The pairing of adventure travel with indigenous tourism is a natural match, which appeals both to home-grown Aussies as much to inbound visitors.

“Staycations are very popular right now, as Australian travellers look closer to home for their next adventure, which they may have overlooked in the past…Indigenous tourism is a big part of this experience.”

Brett Mitchell, ‎Regional Director, Australia & NZ at Intrepid Group.


Credit: Intrepid Travel

But as increasing numbers of travellers seek out the adventure (including growing numbers of the 50+ demographic) instead of the more traditional holiday, travel companies are having to come up with innovative ways to keep the adventure in adventure travel.

Speaking to KarryOnChimu Adventures co-founder Greg Carter expressed that although the old favourites of adventure travel will always be popular (think Machu Pichu), the modern traveller is looking for something a little different, a sweet spot that perfectly combines the traditional and the unique:

“Seeing the traditional in a less traditional way is a trend we’re responding to by educating our industry on the amount of options and add-ons they have available when booking the next adventure for their client – classic examples are the Salkantay route as an option to the traditional Inca trail or taking the Orient Express for a day trip to Machu Picchu or discovering the south pole on a ski craft or camping on the ice to spice up your traditional expedition cruise. The options are endless!”

Greg Carter, co-founder at Chimu Adventures.


Credit: Chimu Adventures

“We can’t forget that with today’s traveller being constantly connected, constantly exposed to ever-growing travel options, we have to come up with new and innovative ways to stand out, especially in a market as competitive as adventure travel.”

However the sector transforms this year and beyond, one thing’s for sure: exciting times await us all – whether as agents or travellers.

Are you noticing more of your clients opting for adventure over the traditional holiday?