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Adventure Tourism Study Delivers Key Data on Growing Industry Segment

Kristin Lamoureux -- Set a course for adventure!

Adventure tourism – it sounds like a fantastic combination of the X Games and Indiana Jones – is actually a real and increasingly important segment of the travel and tourism industry.  “Adventure tourism, in its broadest sense, is tourism that involves some type of interaction with the outdoors, hopefully some sort of cultural or natural experience, some sort of physical action,” explained Kristin Lamoureux, visiting assistant professor of tourism and hospitality.  While encompassing “extreme” sports activities such as bungee jumping and white-water kayaking, adventure tourism also includes hiking, participating in cultural events and volunteering.

A study published jointly by the George Washington University, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and Vital Wave Consulting revealed that Israel, the Slovak Republic and Chile were among the top adventure tourism destinations for 2010.  The Adventure Tourism Development Index (ATDI), now in its third year, offers a ranking of countries around the world based on principles of sustainable adventure tourism, calculated through a combination of expert survey data and quantitative data gathered from international indices.

“When we first developed the technical method for scoring countries in 2008, we didn’t know how it would be received,” Lamoureux said.  “Three years later, countries are using the Index to argue for sustainable tourism over less favorable types of tourism development.”  Lamoureux co-authored GW’s contribution to the study in collaboration with lead author Philippe Duverger, GWSB PhD, ’09, assistant professor of marketing at Towson University in Md.

The study divides countries into two classifications, “developed” or “developing” (on the basis of their United Nations designation), and ranks their potential as adventure tourism destinations using 10 criteria in three categories: Safe and Welcoming (sustainable development, safety, natural resources and health); Adventure (entrepreneurship and adventure activity resources); and Readiness (humanitarian, infrastructure, cultural resources and image).  The ATDI scores provide a useful benchmark for entrepreneurs and governments seeking to create and market sustainable adventure tourism products and services.

According to Lamourex, countries can use the findings to see where they stand within the market and what they need to do to attract tourism investment.  Developing nations in particular may possess the types of natural, cultural and historic attractions sought by adventure tourists but often lack infrastructure, health care services and levels of safety and security necessary to develop a lucrative, sustainable tourism industry.

This is where building a tourism industry can be especially beneficial for developing countries.  Governments and businesses that work to address those needs with the goal of attracting tourism are also helping to develop their nations.  “That’s the way tourism development should be,” Lamoureux said.  “It should be development that benefits the society while creating the economic generator of a tourism industry.”

The full ATDI study can be viewed here.

Posted by gwsb on August 16, 2011 | Filed under: GWSB News.

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