Delphi Adventure Resort was one of the 700-plus suppliers, buyers and destinations represented at ATWS 2014. // © 2014 ATTA / Lukasz Warzecha
Feature image (above): Global Marketplace connected suppliers with buyers, media and travel advisors. // © 2014 ATTA / Juno Kim
The luck of the Irish was smiling down on the adventure travel industry at Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS), held in Killarney, Ireland, from Oct. 6 to 9. More than 700 of the world’s most prominent and innovative suppliers, buyers and destinations attended the summit, which had the theme of "The Economics of Adventure." And the impressive numbers now associated with adventure travel — which has grown from a relatively fringe market to a $263 billion global industry, according to Adventure Tourism Market Study — certainly gave attendees of the sold-out event something to raise their pints about.
Key trends identified this year by the summit’s host, Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), included the softening of adventure travel, customization of trip experiences and the rise of multigenerational groups and cultural experiences.
The Next Wave of Adventure Travel
One of the summit’s most prominent events, Global Marketplace, featured 134 suppliers representing international destinations, experiences and activities. During scheduled, quick-fire meetings, the suppliers connected with buyers, media and travel advisors in a buzzing global bazaar that served as an incubator for the future of adventure travel.
Trending regions included South America, southern Africa, Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Noted South American experiences and offerings included biking through Colombia’s coffee lands with Colombia Adventure; multisport adventures on the Galapagos Islands with Destination Ecuador; volcano treks along ancient Inca paths in Ecuador with Tierra del Volcan; and luxury adventure trips in six locations, including Patagonia and Easter Island, with Explora.
In the Balkans and Eastern Europe, biking, hiking and leisurely treks are offered along the scenic Adriatic Trail, Via Dinarica and other locations throughout the region from VMD Adventure Travel. Representatives from Bulgaria, such as Odysseia-In Ltd, shared information about temple visits to ancient Thracian tombs and walking tours through villages to experience local culture.
In southern Africa, Namibia’s conservation efforts have allowed operators such as Wilderness Travel and Wilderness Safaris to create trip-of-a-lifetime itineraries. Visitors are able to monitor the country’s thriving wildlife alongside legendary researchers, as well as attend fly-in safaris to remote locations in search of desert rhinos.
The takeaway? Savvy traveler advisors are plugging into the latest offerings via social networks, travel blogs and trade associations such as ATTA to provide peak experiences around the world for clients ready to enjoy new destinations and activities.