The latest trends in adventure travel


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A new survey by Virtuoso has revealed the hottest destinations, activities and trends in the rapidly expanding world of adventure travel.

An overwhelming 95 per cent of Virtuoso travel specialists say they have seen active, adventure and specialty travel sales rise within the past 12 months. As well, adventure travel’s future is looking bright indeed: 95 per cent say they see demand for this style of travel increasing in the next two to three years.

All survey respondents are advisors and preferred partners taking part in the Virtuoso Active and Specialty Travel (VAST) programme. The top adventure destinations gaining in popularity are:

  1.  Iceland
  2. Galapagos/Ecuador
  3. Costa Rica and Chile (tie)
  4. New Zealand
  5. Peru
  6. Cuba
  7. Antarctica
  8. Arctic/North Pole
  9. South Africa
  10. Australia

Adventure travellers are broadening their horizons beyond well-known European cities to seek new frontiers off the beaten path. Latin America is especially popular, as active travellers can experience their desired combination of nature and culture there. Remote, unspoiled destinations such as Antarctica and the Arctic are also sought after by upscale adventurers. The top activities preferred by active and specialty travellers are:

  1. Hiking/trekking
  2. Biking
  3. Kayaking
  4. Small-ship expedition cruising
  5. Food and wine
  6. Safaris/wildlife viewing
  7. Walking
  8. Photography
  9. Scuba diving
  10. Arts and culture

Travellers crave authentic experiences, choosing to immerse themselves in destinations to learn, not merely sightsee. Today’s health-conscious travellers want to maintain their lifestyle away from home. As well, a trip where they can indulge personal passions, whether athletic, artistic or gourmet, is a priority. The survey also revealed that all ages enjoy experiential travel:

  • The largest number – 41 per cent – of adventure travellers are between 50 and 65
  • 24 per cent are between 35 and 50
  • 21 per cent are 65 and over
  • 14 per cent are under 35

Couples, including honeymooners, are the most common type of adventure traveller. They are followed by immediate families, friends travelling together, solo travellers and multi-generational family members. Several factors are driving adventure travel’s popularity, as cited by respondents: communing with nature, checking experiences off a bucket list, spending quality time together on family and multi-generational trips, and the ability of today’s older travellers to be more active due to improved longevity and health.

Respondents also provided their top tips for adventure travel:

  1. Challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone and being open to new activities.
  2. Familiarise yourself with the culture of the destination by meeting interesting locals.
  3. Look at the world in a new way: gain a fresh perspective and possibly even change an opinion.
  4. Travel now, because some of these destinations are changing fast and may not be in this state in just a few years.
  5. Don’t try to do too much. Keep travel distances manageable and build in rest days and free time.

The survey, conducted between February and April 2016, received input from 125 advisors and partners participating in the Virtuoso Active and Specialty Travel (VAST) programme. The industry’s best established and longest-running adventure travel programme, VAST is a community of travel advisors and partners who want to expand their knowledge, networking and sales in this booming niche.

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