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New ATTA Research Shows a Diversifying Adventure Travel Market

The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) recently released its 2024 Annual State of the Adventure Travel Industry Snapshot Report, analyzing trends in the market. 

Among the key findings are trending destinations, which include the Mediterranean, Western Europe, Scandinavia and north-east Asia. Popular activities, meanwhile, range from hiking/walking and electric-bike cycling to gastronomy, culture, safaris/wildlife-viewing and wildlife/nature photography.

The ATTA also found that adventure travel companies are diversifying their market base to target families, women, travelers age 50 and older, LGBTQ+ travelers and more.

When it comes to business health, the survey indicates that revenue has been steadily recovering since 2021, with 83% of respondents showing an increase from 2022 to 2023, and 85% expecting their 2024 net profits to be equal to or better than 2023. Significantly, 80% also expect revenue to be the same as or higher than 2019, pre-pandemic. Staffing is also going well, with all departments reporting they have remained steady or seen a 1-25% increase since 2022. 

Our Analysis: Adventure Travel’s Appeal Is Growing

The results of the survey prove that adventure travel is a growing segment of the industry, and that the niche has evolved far beyond extreme activities and remote destinations to now encompass a range of opportunities that appeal to a more diverse segment of travelers. With adventure travel operators looking to attract new types of guests, travel advisors, too, should be looking at their own clients lists to see who might be right for the niche — including those who want to have new experiences, get off the beaten path and travel like a local, all of which are top motivations for consumers, according to the study.

RELATED: G Adventures Expands Jane Goodall Collection With 5 New Wildlife Trips 

Fast Facts: More Key Findings From the Snapshot

– ATTA reports that on average, trips were 65% full in 2023, the same as the previous year.

– The average number of travelers served was 6,553, a 54% increase over 2022 and a 65% increase over 2019.

– Only 17% of respondents had some reduction in revenue in 2023 compared to 2022.

– Forty-eight percent of respondents have or are working toward a sustainability certification. The top reason for getting certified is helping to protect or improve the natural environment. The biggest obstacle in getting certified is the high cost.

– In terms of how operators are taking climate-positive action, 53% are reducing emissions by purchasing from more sustainable suppliers, 45% share climate-conscious travel education, 41% are reducing emissions through the conservation of water and 40% are cutting emissions by sustainably sourcing food. 

– Globally, the survey found that approximately two-thirds (62%) of bookings are made directly with the service provider. 

– Most 2023 guests were couples, though Africa was popular with solo travelers, and groups were drawn to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

– Fifty-three percent of guests were female (which jumps slightly to 55% when looking at solo travelers), and 46% were male.

RELATED: Backroads Launches New Women’s Only Adventures for 2025 

– Consistent with previous years, most 2023 adventure travelers were between the ages of 29 and 60. Average age ranges include 45-54 (38%), 55-64 (35%) and 35-44 (16%).

– Trending trip types include custom itineraries, soft adventures, remote destinations, culinary-focused adventures, electric-bike itineraries, expert- or specialist-led trips, slow travel, more sustainable itineraries, off-peak travel and family/multi-generation travel.

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