Adventure travel could facilitate responsible tourism development: opinion leaders

Speakers at the recently concluded Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) in Hokkaido, Japan, have called on the adventure travel trade to set an example for others to follow amid increasing global challenges as the travel industry rebounds from the pandemic.

Adventure tourism tends to be more sustainable and responsible than other forms of travel because it typically involves smaller groups visiting more remote areas, supports local communities, and promotes the conservation of natural resources. This experience therefore presents opportunities for industry leaders to help tourism build back better, they said.

Adventure Travel World Summit 2023’s theme was chowa (harmony in Japanese) to emphasis the need for tourism development to support local nature, communities and economies

Global tourism recovered to about 66 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in 2022, and to 80 per cent in the first quarter of 2023, indicating the industry’s resilience and “swift recovery,” according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

However, the trajectory also indicates the possibility of over-tourism in future.

“In seven years we’ll have 1.8 billion international travellers, 80 per cent higher than ever before,” Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) CEO Shannon Stowell told delegates. “The world is in a transitional phase… we can be the model of how to do tourism right.”

Adventure travel, he added, is about “slow travel” – absorbing the essence of a destination and all the things it has to offer. It is a responsible form of travel that results in 65 per cent of tourist spend being retained in local communities. In comparison, travellers on bus or cruise trips spend only 10 to 15 per cent of their budget locally, he said.

ATWS 2023’s theme was therefore chowa (harmony), which is most often used in Japan to describe the collective spirit that connects people.

“This concept of harmony can teach us to create a sustainable ecosystem of nature, communities and economies worldwide. In looking to the future of adventure travel, we ask ourselves what will be possible when our individual intentions pursue a shared vision,” said the ATTA chief.

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