Adventure travel market grows to $89 billion

According to a new study commissioned by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Xola Consulting, and George Washington University, adventure travelers spent more than $89 billion on tourism in 2009, demonstrating the strength of the adventure market in the travel industry. That number doesn’t include the money that those travelers also spent on airfare, nor new gear.

The study questioned 850 travelers from North and South America, as well as Europe. More than 70% of all international travel originates in those locations with the highest number of travelers coming from the United States, Argentina, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain. Researchers hoped to get a better understanding of the adventure tourism market, which they defined as travel, either international or domestic, that included physical activity, nature-based options, and cultural experiences, in hopes of getting a grasp on this fast growing industry.

While the full study won’t be published until later this fall, some of the findings have already been made public. For instance, the ATTA says that the typical adventure traveler is 36 years old and spends between $450 and $800 per vacation, excluding their airfare. They are also more likely to hold a passport, and are generally more educated and affluent than the “typical” traveler.

They also don’t seem to mind spending money on their travels, as in addition to the $89 billion spent on the trips themselves, adventure travelers spent an additional $53 billion on related gear, apparel, and accessories. That brings the total market value for adventure travel to $142 billion in 2009. In comparison, the cruise line world market share is estimated to have a value of about $27 billion.

As you can imagine, many travel companies are scrambling to get a piece of the pie, with more exotic treks and cultural excursions to far flung places being planned all the time. Adventure travel clearly isn’t a niche market any longer, and what was once the purview of dare devils and thrill seeker, is becoming all the more appealing to mainstream travelers too.