Adventure Travel as a Solution to Overtourism, Says Industry Leader

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 23, 2024 22:30 PMNews
Van travel in the mountains
Van travel in the mountains. Source: Kevin Schmid, Unsplash

Adventure tourism is being hailed as a crucial element in promoting sustainable travel, according to industry leaders at the AdventureElevate summit in Europe.

At the summit held in Tirol, Austria, Shannon Stowell, the CEO of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), highlighted the role of adventure travel in addressing overtourism. He noted that while many destinations face overtourism, they still rely heavily on tourism for economic stability.

Stowell explained, "Many destinations are experiencing overtourism issues but still need the economic benefits that tourism brings. The adventure industry is essential because it allows destinations to maintain economic benefits with fewer, more respectful tourists."

Family camping with the dog
Family camping with the dog. Source: Jimmy Conover, Unsplash

He emphasized the economic impact of different types of travelers: "It takes 100 cruise customers to contribute $10,000 to an economy, nine overnight package tourists to achieve the same, but only four commercial adventure travelers to match that amount."

Founded 20 years ago, ATTA is the largest global association in adventure travel, with about 30,000 members including tour guides, operators, and travel advisors. According to ATTA data, adventure travelers often spend more locally, staying at local lodges, dining on local cuisine, purchasing local crafts, and hiring local guides, compared to conventional tourists.

Stowell pointed out the issue of economic leakage in mass tourism, where 80 to 90 percent of revenue leaves the destination. In contrast, for adventure travelers, the leakage rate is much lower, around 30 to 35 percent. He also noted that adventure travelers often explore less-visited areas, helping to distribute the economic benefits more evenly and support local businesses.

Mountain lake in Kitzbuhel
Mountain lake in Kitzbuhel. Source: Solleneu, Pixabay

The first European AdventureElevate summit drew 250 participants from 39 countries to Kitzbuhel, a premier winter sports resort in the Alps. Over two days, industry leaders and speakers discussed sustainability, new technologies, and other pertinent topics.

Karin Seiler, CEO of the Tirol Tourist Board, remarked, "This event provides an excellent opportunity to showcase Tirol to international markets and to engage with new and existing contacts."

Gabriella Stowell, ATTA’s vice-president of regional development, indicated that the summit is intended to be an annual event rotating across Europe. "This is the first year, and we’re pleased to be in Tirol. While next year’s location is not yet confirmed, discussions are ongoing with various destinations."

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