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ITB Berlin News Preview Edition

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ADVENTURE TOURISM

ADVENTURE TOURISM SPECIAL FEATURE 31 Trends in Adventure Travel ATTA again leverages power of ITB Berlin to “grow the tribe” © DR Hall 20 Stand 120 Shannon Stowell President, ATTA They are described as a catalyst, a hub, a refuge and a facilitator. The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) is a close partner of ITB Berlin, boasting a thriving community of more than 800 responsible, profitable businesses, destinations and media who transform customers and businesses alike into advocates for sustainability and justice worldwide. Association President, Shannon Stowell will be Master of Ceremonies at the CSR Day of the ITB Berlin Convention on Friday 7th March. We asked him what the link is between CSR and adventure travel… We went out to consumers and asked them to define adventure travel and we found three main themes: nature, culture and activity. Nature and culture are specifically very fragile and prone to over-exploitation and destruction, so the adventure travel industry is IT’S A TRUE TWO-WAY PARTNERSHIP, AND THAT’S IMPORTANT, BECAUSE ITB BERLIN IS THE LARGEST GATHERING IN THE WORLD OF ITS KIND NEW MINI-TRENDS According to Shannon Stowell, a number of new mini trends are emerging, such as: White water stand-up paddleboarding; And – from an operator in Norway, “Coasteering” – “The aim is to travel along the water’s edge at an island location or a cove and no matter what comes, you have to stay in the waterline area. This may entail climbing or swimming; you may do some jumping off rocks, but the point of it is exploring the line between land and water...” very aware of the issues of CSR. Those in the industry that are on the front line see this every day and realise that if they don’t protect local economies, fragile cultures, the environment and wildlife, they will have no means of existence any more. Many of our members can give you amazing stories about how they’re helping to protect a region. Just off the top of my head I can think of a wrapping company that saves forests in Fiji or an adventure travel company in Mexico that has former poachers now working as guides, protecting the turtles. Adventure travel is gaining increasing media coverage in general… How is this changing the way people conceive of the idea? I think both professionals and consumers are beginning to understand that adventure is not just about extremes. A few years ago, it was mostly pretty intense imagery and concepts, but now people understand that what’s maybe an adventure for a 70 year-old couple from New York would be very different than that for 20-year-olds from Barcelona… and yet those are all still in the adventure travel sector. Most people do want to do something interesting, unique and transformative; something they can talk about when they come home, like tracking an endangered rhino in Namibia, rafting from cabin to cabin in the Yukon in Canada, skiing from the mountains to a ship were your lunch is waiting for you in the Norwegian fjords. These are all part of the endless possibilities for adventure travel and a lot of it is now much more accessible. What are the biggest trends you are seeing this year in adventure travel? Customisation continues to be one of the big things people want. In some ways that’s exciting for operators because they can create ever more creative, interesting products. But on the other hand it means they have to be very adept. One interesting trend that we find is that most adventure “tribes people” do not choose to use an operator. Most are doing things on their own, especially gen X and gen Y’s. They do research online with operators and then go and book themselves, whereas the baby boomers tend to book through the operators, having less time and more resources. If you look at adventure travel worldwide, the trend continues towards “softening”. We’re in an age where there are lots of four and five-star adventure travel trips, where the activities people are doing in the day are quite adventurous, but at night they end up in a very nice location with good food, good wine and a good bed… and probably a spectacular view as well! This softening is due partly to the broadening of the market. With adventure travel, every time you think you’ve heard everything, something else pops up! I would say innovation is definitely a trend as well… people out there on the edge, but while not everything succeeds, and not everything becomes a massive hit, it’s all great fun. How important is your partnership ITB Berlin for fostering and growing this sector? I would like to compliment ITB Berlin be on the vision of truly partnering with key players in various sectors. I can speak from our perspective in saying that the people from ITB Berlin are an absolute pleasure to work with. It’s a true two-way partnership, and that’s important, because ITB Berlin is the largest gathering in the world of its kind. There is no other time when we have access to such a pool of diverse candidates to be collaborators, partners, members or friends. It really does represent a truly unique offering. ITB Berlin is committed to the adventure sector, which means that’s “the tribe” is actually gathering and connecting here in a meaningful way, rather than just showing up and walking around the thousands of booths. ITB BERLIN NEWS • Friday 28 th February 2014

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