Members view small vessels more favorably than medium and large ships. // © 2016 iStock
Feature image (above): Interaction with nature and physical activity are two tenants of adventure travel. // © 2016 Lindblad Expeditions
In a recent survey by Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), members reported that the intersection between adventure travel and cruising accounts for a substantial percentage of their annual income.
Shannon Stowell, president of ATTA, said this report marks the first time the association has directly addressed the role of cruising in adventure travel. ATTA will continue the discussion during a plenary session at the Adventure Travel World Summit this month in Anchorage, Ala.
“Cruising is a subject that only comes up in the halls,” Stowell said. “We are bringing facts and dialogue to this.”
According to ATTA, adventure travel is a tourist activity invested in at least two of three categories: cultural immersion, physical activity and interaction with nature.
“Adventure travel is the bigger industry, but it’s fragmented into hundreds of companies,” he said.
And many of those adventure companies are involved with cruising. Inbound/outbound adventure tour operators reported that 51 percent of their annual revenue is dependent on cruising, and 73 percent of total respondents earn profitable revenue from cruise passengers.
Contributing to these results is the fact that cruisers are opting for adventure travel and adventure travelers are booking cruises, says Stowell, giving travel agents opportunities to cross-sell.
What’s more, 79 percent of respondents (mostly tour operators headquartered in North America) report that the adventure destinations where they operate have been impacted by cruising.
ATTA members have mixed feelings about the appearance of cruise ships.
Eighty-five percent of respondents cite ship size as a determining factor in destination impact. A majority of those surveyed see small expedition ships (12 to 99 passengers) as having an overall positive effect, while a majority is concerned about damage to the local environment and irresponsible tourism growth in the case of larger vessels.
“We still have a lot to learn about the intersection between the cruise and adventure industries,” Stowell said. “Some of our members have concerns about the impact cruising will have on their business, the environment and local culture, while others have fully embraced the industry. ATTA wants to help facilitate the dialogue between cruise companies, adventure providers and the destinations they share.”