Millennials Want an Adventure When They Travel

Tourism is worth around $7.2tn a year to the global economy.

Adventure Travel is worth around $263bn globally and growing at a rapid pace.

Adventure travel is defined by the U.S. based Adventure Travel Trade Association as any tourist activity that includes the following three components:  physical activity,  cultural exchange and connection with nature.

This includes Adventure Travel for the disabled which has become a $13 billion a year industry.

“Fifteen years ago people were acquiring things. Now the focus is on acquiring experiences,” says Wes Allen, president of the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, a group of 62 independently-owned outdoor specialty shops across the US.

Retailers such as REI who focus on selling products and clothes designed for specific sporting activities and made from high performance fabrics also offer 150 guided adventure vacations. They started this part of their business 25 years ago.

Social media and changing demographics are driving the trend in adventure travel, says Kristin Lamoureux, associate dean at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism.

“Millennials need to have experiences that are meaningful. They want to get closer to the natural environment, to the social environment, and they want to have an authentic experience. Can you wake up in the morning and look out of the window and know where you are? Is there a sense of place? Whether it’s breaking bread with a local or climbing up a mountain, adventure travel fits that need very well,” she says.

Access to inexpensive consumer technology, with respect to Global Positioning Systems, “flashpacking”, social networking and photography, have increased the worldwide interest in adventure travel.

“And people aren’t just taking trips – they’re showcasing what they’re doing on social media,” Lamoureux adds.

When developing PR strategies, rather than segment by specific destinations such as Costa Rica or by specific activities such as canoeing or hiking, it can be more insightful to segment Adventure Tourism along the following lines.

Cultural tourism

Cultural tourism is the act of travelling to a place to see that location’s culture, including the lifestyle of the people in that area, the history of those people, their art, architecture, religions, and other factors that shape their way of life.


The “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”. Education is meant to be inclusive of both staff and guests.


Ethno tourism refers to visiting a foreign location for the sake of observing the indigenous members of its society and is non-scientific.


Extreme tourism involves travel to dangerous locations or participation in dangerous events or activities. This form of tourism can overlap with extreme sports.

Jungle tourism

Jungle tourism pertains specifically to the context of region, culture and activity. Jungle tours have become a major component of green tourism in tropical destinations and are a relatively recent phenomenon of Western international tourism.

Overland Travel

Overlanding is a form of extended adventure holiday, embarking on a long journey, often in a group. Overland companies provide a converted truck or a bus plus a tour leader, and the group travels together overland for a period of weeks or even months.

Urban Exploration

Urban exploration (Urbex or UE) is the examination of the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities.

Adrian G Stewart

Adrian G Stewart

About adriangstewart

Senior executive with expert knowledge of all aspects of strategic marketing and a track record of creating sustainable competitive advantage. International management and leadership experience in both B2B and B2C organizations. Specialties:Strategic marketing management including; new product development, product life cycle management, business relationship management, market segmentation, marketing information systems, e-commerce and social media marketing.
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