By: Heidi H. Sung, Alastair M. Morrison and Joseph T. O’Leary
Heidi H. Sung (Email: email@example.com) is a graduate research and teaching assistant in the Department of Restaurant, Hotel, Institutional, and Tourism Management, Purdue University, where Dr. Alastair M. Morrison is a Professor. Dr. Joseph T. O’Leary is a Professor in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University. An earlier version of this article was presented in the 1996 Annual Society of Travel and Tourism Educators Conference in Ottawa, Canada in October 1996.
Since the late 1970s, studies in travel and tourism marketing have faced new and increasing challenges arising from sociodemographic changes such as increased spending power per capita and greater leisure time. A discerning public with greater travel experience, has benefited from more convenient and cheaper transportation and advanced technology (Chon & Singh, 1995; Jefferson, 1995; Edgell, 1996). This resulted in substantial changes in travel and leisure demand, and in the patterns of international travel market in the 1990s (Hall & Weiler, 1992; McCarville & Smale, 1993; Tourism Canada, 1995). We have witnessed dramatic growth in specific tourism segments such as 'ecotourism' (Cater & Lowman, 1994), 'nature tourism' (Whelan, 1991), and 'special interest tourism' (Hall & Weiler, 1992) to cater for today's sophisticated travelers with "the means and the will to travel" Jefferson, 1995).
While travel costs remain a significant determinant in making travel decisions, tourist satisfaction is increasing in importance (Krinppendorf, 1987). A true travel product must provide something extra besides value for money to attract the tourist for some deeply satisfying purpose. This has led to a remarkable shift towards new patterns in vacation choices to accommodate the expanding range of interests and leisure travel activities (Hall & Weiler, 1992) and 'experience-oriented' vacations. Adventure travel has gained more popularity among today's sophisticated travelers who want to "experience" a vacation rather than just spend their vacations on sitting in a tour bus (Black & Rutledge, 1995; Madrigal, 1995; Tourism Canada, 1995; Vellas, 1995).
In adventure travel, travelers' increased interest in experiencing “active” holidays has been matched with the rapid growth in equipment manufacturing and the extended capability of commercial operators including outfitters and retailers to deliver more diversified "activity" travel products. Australia and North America appear to have been leading such efforts (Hall, 1992). Adventure travel has now become one of the fastest-growing travel market segments and has broadened its scope and appeal in international travel and tourism. The variety and availability of adventure travel products for a wide range of interests and abilities appear to be limitless.
Adventure travel is being promoted by many regions such as ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations), where tourism resources are heavily dependent on less-developed, natural environments (Hall, 1989). Tourism is expected to generate substantial impact on limited domestic economic bases in these regions. Apart from traditional long-haul destinations such as Kenya or Nepal most leading operators (i.e., Backroads, Mountain Travel-Sobek, Overseas Adventure Travel, and Wilderness Travel) have included more Indochinese destinations in their new adventure itineraries. Table I illustrates popular adventure travel programs currently offered in the Asia Pacific region.
The size of this industry is difficult to measure. Nobody seems to be sure what is to be measured and how it is to be done. To address these questions, there should be: (1) a definition of adventure travel as a measuring tool and (2) a conceptual framework for the interpretation and presentation of the definition. While there have been many studies conducted in the leisure or recreation field under the headings of 'adventure recreation,' 'high adventure,' 'natural challenge activities,' 'outdoor pursuits,' and 'risk recreation' (Ewert, 1989), little has been reported on adventure travel. Indeed, in distinguishing between adventure recreation and adventure travel, the field of adventure travel suffers from the same difficulties as other areas of tourism in terms of the lack of a universal definition.
Henderson (1994) argued that the major aims of research should be to "either relate data to a theory or to generate a theory from data." In order to hold existing and new knowledge, theory should provide a conceptual framework, so that knowledge can be interpreted for empirical application in a comprehensive manner. Unfortunately, the criticisms of theory in tourism have ranged from a lack of theory to poor theoretical quality. Iso-Ahola (1986) lamented on the lack of broad theoretical conceptualizations in tourism (traditionally understood as 'leisure') research, arguing that research has focused too much on practice and often does not address theory.
Added to the lack of a theoretical foundation, tourism studies have also wrestled with various methodological drawbacks and limitations in field tests (Schueft, 1993). Considering the nature of travel and tourism, being highly active and industry-oriented, research is most useful when it contributes to empirical application and helps in understanding and addressing managerial issues. As suggested by Henderson (1994), theories, conceptual frameworks, and empirical applications need to be highly interrelated in a comprehensive manner such that "theory guides research or research guides theory".
|Table 1: Popular Adventure Travel Programs in Asia Pacific Region|
|AAT King*||Australia||Safaris, wilderness trips|
|Abercrombie & Kent||China||Adventure holidays with comfort|
|Asia Transpacific Journeys*||Southeast Asia||Multi-activity, cultural experiences|
|Asian Pacific Adventures||Asia, Pacific||Multi-activity and cultural trips|
|Backroads||Asia, Pacific||Multi-activity adventure trips|
|Contiki Holidays||Australia, New Zealand||Active trips for 18-35 year olds|
|Destination Downunder*||Australia, New Zealand||Multi-activity adventure trips|
|Elder Treks||Southeast Asia||Cross-cultural adventure travel|
|Geographic Expeditions||Southeast Asia||Multi-activity, cultural experiences|
|Latitudes Expeditions East*||Southeast Asia||Custom-designed culture/nature trips|
|Mountain Travel - Sobek||Asia||Trekking, culture, wildlife trips|
|New Zealand Adventures*||New Zealand, Australia||Soft adventure packages|
|Nomadic Expeditions*||Mongolia||Nature tours, cultural experiences|
|Overseas Adventure Travel||Asia, Pacific||Soft adventure packages|
|The Global Spectrum*||Indochina||Eco-cultural programs|
|Wilderness Travel||Asia, Pacific||Trekking, culture/wilderness trips|
|* Marked companies primarily focus their businesses on Asian Pacific region|
|Source: The International Adventure Travel & Outdoor Show, 1996-97|
|Table 2: Most Commonly Provided Outdoor Adventure Travel Activities|
|Bicycling||Bird watching||Bungee Jumping|
|Camping||Canoeing||Diving (Scuba, Sky)|
|Dog sledding||Fishing||Four Wheel Drive Trips|
|Hang gliding||Hiking||Horseback Riding|
|Motorcycling||Mountain Biking||Mountain Climbing|
|Skydiving||Spelunking||Survival and Wilderness Training|
|Source: Ewert, 1989; McMenamin, 1992; Hall, 1992-; Specialty Travel Index, 1992|
The purpose of this study is to develop a comprehensive definition of adventure travel in order to construct a conceptual framework for the interpretation and presentation of the definition. Past leisure and/or recreation studies were examined to guide the research and to relate the notion of 'adventure with 'travel and/or tourism.' Although there exists no theoretical foundation, it is generally agreed that adventure travel is a viable segment of tourism that has been developed and is recognized by the industry. The segment is represented by numerous products and adventure travel activities. This study examines the providers' perspective in placing the body of knowledge upon conceptual framework. Further, implications for the use of theory in management will be discussed in an effort to bridge the gap between research and the industry.
Major Components to Define Adventure Travel
Adventure travel appears to have developed out of the broader, wider growth of traditional outdoor and wilderness recreation during the 20th century. Unlike other forms of recreation, adventure travel offers a unique opportunity in which participants become more experienced and pursue extended scales of "adventurous endeavors." Ewert 1989) referred to this notion as the "adventure pursuit." Traditional forms of recreation usually involve elements of skill in a specific outdoor setting. It is this "setting" that provides the primary attraction in special interest travel. However, in adventure travel, it is the "activity" that attracts travelers as participants. This study argues that adventure travel is primarily associated with activities where the purpose of trip is to be engaged in experiences through participation rather than in sightseeing at traditional tourist attractions.
What distinguishes these adventure travel activities from those of traditional outdoor recreation is "the deliberate pursuit of risk and uncertainty of outcome often referred to as adventure" (Ewert, 1989) where an individual often faces increasing levels of risk or personal threat (Hall, 1992). Although Ewert (1989) asserted that adventure pursuits can be subsumed under the broader category of outdoor recreation, it is arguable whether such a category is broad enough to cover the overall scope of adventure travel. Moreover, his term "adventure pursuit" should be considered as a sub domain, that is, not at a equivalent level with adventure travel but with adventure activities.
Also representing the development of the adventure travel market is the growth of journals, magazines, and periodicals such as the Specialty Travel Index illustrating "thousands of unusual travel opportunities worldwide" (Hall, 1992). Although the exact size of the market is unclear, it is generally agreed that there are some adventure travel activities commonly provided by organized and commercial operators which can be considered under the adventure travel category (Table 2).
It has been argued that outdoor recreation and outdoor adventure often serve different clientele with different needs, expectations, and motivations (Ewert & Hollenhorst, 1989; Schreyer & White, 1979; Schuett, 1993). The similarities and differences between adventure travelers and outdoor recreationalists are difficult to identify, particularly in the areas of motivation (Ewert, 1989), challenge (Ewert, 1987; Yerkes, 1985), risk (Ewert, 1987; Ewert & Hollenhorst, 1989; Meier, 1978), and the specific setting (Robinson, 1992; Schuett, 1993).
It may have been Iso-Ahola (1980) who initially conceptualized the fundamental motivations as to why people engage in outdoor recreation. He clearly identified two dimensions: 'an attempt to achieve something' and 'an attempt to avoid something.' Ewert (1989) argued that, in the case of adventure travel, this definition should be extended to include a third dimension: 'Risk-taking.' Manning (1986) reported that motives for participation in outdoor recreation generally consist of a desire for achievement, affiliation, control, escape, and self-awareness. In addition, it should be noted that the motives for participation in adventure travel are also interrelated with activities. In a more comprehensive manner, Hall (1992) tried to categorize the motivations associated with adventure travel into risk-seeking, self discovery, self-actualization, contact with nature, and social contact.
Ewert (1989) argued that the concept of risk-taking is essential to adventure travel activities. One can predict that the absence of risk may result in a decrease in satisfaction as well as a decrease in the desire to participate. As such, risk is considered to be an important element in distinguishing outdoor adventure activities and other outdoor recreation activities that are not adventure-based (Ewert, 1987; Ewert & Hollenhorst, 1989; Meier, 1978). The challenging nature of adventure experiences, as Iso-Ahola (1980) reported, comes from the interaction of situational risk and personal cornpetence. In other words, the degree of risk-taking appears to have a positive correlation with the level of experience and skill of the participant (Ewert, 1989). Past recreation studies have observed that performance in adventure travel is consistently associated with skill level (Ewert, 1987; Ewert & Hollenhorst, 1994; Martin & Priest 1986). It is more often linked to the accomplishment of self-imposed, more abstract, personal goals than with the tangible outcomes of traditional forms of outdoor recreation (Ewert, 1989).
The outdoor adventure experience has been conceptualized in many ways and generally consists of two constructs: perceived risk and perceived competence. Ewert and Hollenhorst (1989) described such experiences as a 'search for competence' coupled with 'the valuation of risk and danger.' Priest (1992) proposed five concepts of competence related to the adventure experience: fear, eustress, distress, abilities, and attitudes. He tested a model to represent the role which perceived risk and perceived competence play in the adventure experience domain. Another underlying assumption is that an adventure experience is essentially associated with a psychological state and the participation in physical activities while facing the challenges and risks of a specific environmental setting. Therefore, in adventure travel, the environmental setting is highly interrelated with the experience of engaging in a particular activity (Hall & Weiler, 1992). Thus, it can be argued that adventure travel is associated with specific activities as a primary motive for trips, as well as the expected outcomes from the participants' experiences in particular environments. Another ingredient of adventure travel is an amount of risk associated with the performance of these activities.
Alternative Definitions of Adventure Travel
To define adventure travel, various components including activity, motivation, risk, performance, experience, and environment must be considered. Equally important is how these components can be combined to composed a definition. Ewert (1989) suggested that outdoor adventure involves an interaction with the natural environment, and this interaction requires an element of risk, often exposed to physical danger. Given these factors, adventure travel has been defined as:
As a result of qualitative research through the preceding literature review, this study identifies six major components - activity, motivation, risk, performance, experience, and environment - as key variables to define adventure travel. Significant variations among these six components in terms of levels of importance are also observed. As the industry is known to package adventure travel with numerous adventure travel activities, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that activity is the most important component in defining adventure travel.
Adventure travel is not just about activities. This study argues that adventure travel should be defined on the basis of two coexisting constructs: 'adventure' and 'travel.' The above six components with their levels of importance should also be integrated in the definition. None of the alternative definitions previously listed can be used as an appropriate and comprehensive definition of adventure travel. To address this situation, this study examines the following two hypotheses:
HI. There are significant differences among activity, motivation, risk, performance, experience, and environment in terms of their degree of importance in defining adventure travel with activity being the most important.
H2. There are no differences in the levels of industry support among the alternative definitions.
As a framework for a comprehensive definition, this study adopts the definition of tourism by McIntosh, Goeldner, and Ritchie (1995). The framework combines 'travel' as a foundation with the notion of 'adventure which is composed of the six components from leisure or recreation theories. Based on Hypothesis 2, and assuming that this hypothesis would be supported, this study also proposes a new definition of adventure travel as:
The International Adventure Travel and Outdoor Show held on February 16-18, 1996 at the Rosemont Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois was chosen as the study site to administer survey questionnaires. Unlike other visitor studies with problems in sampling participants scattered over a wide range of sites, this study was set within a confined, specific location and given time period. This provided access to large numbers of people who are actively involved in the adventure travel industry. Secondly, this is one of the major trade shows of its kind in the world, as such the sample population surveyed can be assumed to be representative of the adventure travel providers.
Since the purpose of this study is to search for a comprehensive definition of adventure travel in order to find a conceptual framework for empirical application from the providers' perspective, the exhibitors and observers at this show could be considered the most appropriate and representative population for this study. Each participant was contacted by the researcher through a brief introductory interview explaining the purpose of the study and was provided with an eight-page, self-administered questionnaire. Some 194 people from among the 273 exhibitors were interviewed.
The survey was conducted on-site over a four-day period from February 15 to 18, 1996. The participants were clearly identified by the booth number where they exhibited, which enabled the researcher to continue follow-up visits in order to encourage them to complete the questionnaires. Those who were unable to complete the questionnaires at the show were provided with self-addressed, postage-paid envelopes for return mailing. As a result, a total of 178 questionnaires were completed. 165 were collected during the show period and 13 were received via mail. The response rate was 91.8% (178 responded out of 194 distributed).
An eight-page self-administered questionnaire was used for the survey. Key variables examined were: (1) The six major components; (2) seven alternative definitions of adventure travel and a new proposed definition; (3) demographic variables of the participants; and (4) other descriptive variables to add to the explanatory power of the analysis.
The six major components were examined as explanatory variables: (i) Activity; (ii) motivation; (iii) risk; (iv) performance; (v) experience; and (vi) environment. The response variables were scored on a five-point scale for the level of importance of the six components.
Seven alternative definitions from past leisure or recreation studies [definitions (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), and (g~, and a new proposed definition of adventure travel [definition (h)] were examined. The response variables were the scores on a five-point scale in terms of level of agreement with each definition. To test the possibility if any of the alternative definitions could be directly adopted for adventure travel, respondents were asked to select the most appropriate, comprehensive definition among the eight alternatives.
Demographic profiles on the business of the participants were included in order to examine the empirical application of the definition of adventure travel. Key variables used were: (1) Business category of the organization; (2) key products or specialties of adventure travel; and (3) proportions of adventure travel in business - domestic, international, and overall market.
To add some explanatory power to the major component and definition variables, an open-ended question to describe adventure travel was also included. As an attempt to gain insight about adventure travel, the most important benefits of adventure travel were asked from two separate perspectives: (i) benefits to the travelers, and (ii) benefits to the providing organizations. Finally, to identify the current recognition or status of the adventure travel segment within the travel and tourism industry, the participants were asked to select one of five descriptive statements.
All six components are clearly found to be highly important characteristics of adventure travel. The mean scores of each component range from 1.32 (activity) to 2.23 (performance) with an overall average at 1.70 (score 1 being most important and 5 being least important) (Table 4). As hypothesized, significant variations in terms of the degree of importance assigned by the survey respondents are observed among the six components. At the 'Most important' level, activity attained the greatest response (71.3%, 127) closely followed by experience (68.5%, 122) and environment (65.7%, 117), while both risk (26.4%, 47) and performance (23.6%, 42) are at relatively low levels. Motivation (38.8%, 69) is in the middle. At the Somewhat important' level, motivation (52.8%, 94) and risk (52.2%, 93) have the greatest response followed by performance (47.8%, 85).
|Table 4: Major Components to Define Adventure Travel|
|Component||Level of Importance* Tukey's Grouping||Mean Score||SD|
|1 (Most)||2||3||4||5 (Least)|
A one-way ANOVA uncovers significant differences among the six components in terms of the degree of importance [F(5,1062) 43.40, P < 0.0001]. To further explore these individual differences, a subsequent multiple comparison test using Tukey's studentized method (a= 0.05 level) was performed and delivered almost the same result as prior tests. Three groups were identified by Tukey's method: Activity, the most important, accompanied by experience and environment (Group A); motivation (Group B); and risk accompanied by performance is of the lowest importance (Group C). Following this, several tests of contrasts were undertaken to measure the differences within and/or among the groups and verity that the variances among the groups are all significant while none of the variations within a group had any significance at all.
As hypothesized, activity is significantly different from the other five components in defining adventure travel [T = -6.99, P < 0.0001] and has the greatest level of importance. Within Group A, however, no significant variance in terms of the level of importance between activity and the average of the other two variables (experience and environment) is identified [T = -1.20, P<0.2309], and little difference is found between experience and environment [T = -0.47, P<0.6393].
Motivation (Group B) is significantly different from both Group C (risk and performance) and Group A (environment and experience) [T = -6.19, P <0.0001 and T = 4.29, P < 0.0001, respectively], and the variance between Groups B and C is greater than that between Groups A and B. Performance and risk both belong to Group C, the least important group. However, they still deserve a 'somewhat important' level with an average mean score of 2.19. No significant variance is measured in the contrast test between risk and performance [T = -1.47, P < 0.1409].
Alternative definition (b) seems to have the greatest overall response in terms of the level of agreement (1 being strongly agree to 5 being strongly disagree). Some 43.3% (77) of the respondents strongly agreed and another 43.3% (77) agreed that this alternative definition describes adventure travel. Definition (e) has a similar response with a total of 87.6% of the respondents either strongly agreeing (34.8%, 62) or agreeing (52.8%, 94) with this definition. A similar result is found for definition (c) with a total of 78.7% for strongly agree (29.8%, 53) and agree (48.9%, 87).
It is hard to draw the conclusion that any of the alternative definitions legitimately describes adventure travel since none has received over 50% of the responses at the 'Strongly agree! level. As hypothesized, no strong evidence is found to support any of the alternative definitions as an appropriate and comprehensive definition of adventure travel. Without modification, none of the alternative definitions could serve as the definition of adventure travel.
Definitions (d), (f), and (g) appear to be questionable. For definition (f), the greatest response was at the 'Disagree' (33.1%, 59) level and the remaining 16.9% (30) at the 'Undecided' level. This is similar to the case of definition (d), where 27.0% (48) disagreed and 22.5% (40) were undecided. Definition (g) with fewer negative responses of 20.2% (36) disagreed and 15.7% (28) undecided, shares a similar response as definitions (d) and (f). Definition (a), with 78.1% of the respondents providing negative responses (disagree: 51.1%, 91 and strongly disagree: 27.0%, 48), is apparently not commonly used in describing adventure travel.
The new proposed definition (h) is not strongly supported by the survey results. Only 21.3% (38) of the respondents strongly agreed with this definition while 43.8% (78) agreed. Another 34.3% of the respondents were either undecided (20.2%, 36) or disagreed (14.0%, 25) with this definition.
Considering the overall frequencies shown in Table 4, the proportion of 20.2% being undecided is relatively high and thus makes this definition questionable. Looking back at the literature review, the basis for constructing and proposing this definition is integrating two coexisting frames: 'adventure' and 'travel,' with the six components and the definition for tourism. As a consequence, one might argue that the presentation of this proposed definition might have seemed too theoretical for the surveyed population to interpret.
Alternative Definition (b)
However, as hypothesized, no significant difference
is found in the level of support by industry providers for alternative
definitions as appropriate and comprehensive definitions
of adventure travel.
Demographics of the Participants
The highest proportion of the participants (64.0%, 114) were tour operators/wholesalers who develop, organize, and distribute commercialized adventure travel packages. Not surprisingly, 27.5% (49) were from DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations) or NTOs (National Tourism Organizations), since many adventure activities can be offered in a specific environmental setting, typically associated with particular natural resources in underdeveloped, remote areas.
The population also included accommodation operators (7.9%, 14) who own ranches or cabins which operate horseback riding, hunting, fishing, or snow activities. Due to the involvement of elements of risk or physical participation, some adventure travel activities do require specific equipment or supplies and, of course, considerable expertise to organize and guide trips. The survey population also represented and included manufacturers (7.3%, 13) of equipment or supplies and organizations (5.6%m 10) providing instructional or guide services.
Considering the wide range of business categories employed in the adventure travel industry, the analyses of the key products or specialties of adventure travel are examined separately: (a) Products associated with adventure travel activities; and (b) services associated with adventure travel specialties. A total of 518 multiple responses was collected, then the analysis separated 385 (74.3%) adventure travel products on the basis of activities from 133 (25.7%) services or adventure travel specialties.
The most popular adventure travel activities based on the survey responses are traditional outdoor adventure activities such as rafting (21.3%, 38), kayaking (17.4%, 31), hiking (15.2%, 27), or trekking (14.0%, 25), and, interestingly, ecotours (12.4%, 22). It is true that both ecotravel and adventure travel share commonalties particularly associated with natural resources, so that there might have been some contusion and overlap between the two areas. This distinction could be a possible extension of this study by using a standard definition of adventure travel. Other popular activities included safaris (19, 10.7%), canoeing (18, 10.1%), and wilderness trips (15, 8.4%). 'Multi-activity travel packages in exotic destinations' is reported as the most popular service-oriented adventure travel product. Almost one fourth (23.6%, 42) of the participants offered this response either with or without combining specific adventure activities. The popularity of such packages could be better understood if we recall the primary trip motive (activity and/or destination) from Hall and Weiler's (1992) segmentation theory (activity-driven or destination-driven). Other popular services included expertise leadership (11.2%, 20), customized trips for small groups (7.3%, 13), and general information about the destination area (6.7%, 12).
As for the proportion of adventure travelers for each market - domestic, international and overall - 47.2% (84) replied that adventure travelers compose approximately 80% or a higher proportion of their international business. On the other hand, the proportion of domestic travelers is considerably lower at 36.5% (65). Overall, 43.8% (78) of the participants stated that approximately 80% or more of their business is generated by adventure travelers.
Other Descriptive Statistics
Besides the major components and alternative definitions, the most popular words to describe adventure travel are 'Participation in physical activities' (44.9%, 80). This again confirms that activity is the most important component to describe adventure travel (Table 10). Other popular descriptions of adventure travel included (a) Out of the ordinary (37.1%, 66); (b) fun and excitement (32.0%, 57); (c) natural environment and resources (30.9%, 55); and (d) outdoors and wilderness (27.0%, 48).
Separate analyses were conducted to identify benefits of participating in adventure travel: (1) To the providing organizations; and (2) to the travelers, and show different perspectives for the two groups. To travelers, the greatest benefit of adventure travel is identified as 'discovering new experiences' (26.4%, 47). It is noticeable that most of the benefits are largely associated with the six major components of adventure travel. 'Increased sense of personal growth' (25.3%, 45)' might be the integration of motivation, risk, and perhaps performance. Activity again appears to correspond with 'fun and excitement (16.3%, 29)', 'integrated, better travel opportunities (15.7%, 28),' and 'outdoor adventure activity participation (7.3%, 13)'. Other benefits associated with the environment are: (1) Improved interpretation of the environment and nature (16.9%, 30); (2) return to nature (7.3%, 13); and (3) carefree, 'blown- away' setting (6.7%, 12). Overall, it is clear that activity, environment, and experience, besides their significance as important components of adventure travel, are perceived as the most important benefits of adventure travel (Table 11).
|Table 11: Benefits of Adventure Travel - Travelers|
|Discovering new experiences||47||26.4%|
|Increased sense of personal growth||45||25.3%|
|Fun and excitement||29||16.3%|
|Integrated, better travel opportunities||28||15.7%|
|Outdoor adventure activity participation||13||7.3%|
|Improved interpretation of the environment and culture||30||16.9%|
|Return to nature||13||7.3%|
|Carefree, "blown away" setting||12||6.7%|
|Interaction with environment/people||8||4.5%|
|Improved awareness of physical fitness and health||5||2.8%|
|Mental, physical stimulation||4||2.2%|
|Do not know||26||14.6%||19.6%|
The analysis of the benefits to the organizations indicates a different, more business-oriented perspective (Table 12). 'An increased business opportunity with growing market potential' (1I.8%, 21) providing 'profitability' (9.6%, 17) best represented the adventure market. Pursuing this opportunity results in 'satisfied, repeat customers' (6.2%, 11) through 'providing adventure expertise (20.8%, 37). Those who engage in providing expertise or services in the adventure travel industry are 'satisfied with their job' (13.5%, 24) presumably because they have better opportunities for 'self actualization' (6.2%, 11) through their 'extended experiences' (6.2%, 11), providing 'educational rewards' (11.8%, 21) or 'interacting with people' (11.8%,21).
|Table 12: Benefits of Adventure Travel to Providing Organizations|
|Providing adventure expertise with an integrated itinerary||37||20.8%|
|Interaction with people||21||11.8%|
|Promote tourism to remote destinations||34||19.1%|
|Supporting the culture and environment||9||5.1%|
|Enhance local benefits||4||2.2%||38.2%|
|Increased business opportunity with growing market potential||21||11.8%|
|Satisfied, repeat customers||11||6.2%||27.6%|
Total (from multiple responses)
Finally the respondents were asked to identify their overall position and stage of development of adventure travel segment in the travel and tourism industry. Adventure travel is regarded as 'a newly emerging segment' (50.6%, 90), 'gaining recognition and popularity' (28.7%, 51) and presenting greater variety and availability of products (Figure 4).
Summary of Findings
The hypothesis that the major components including activity, motivation, risk, performance, experience, and environment should be used to define adventure travel is supported by this study's results. All six components are considered to be highly important in adventure travel.. Some variation in terms of the level of importance is found, with activity at the highest level, and performance at the lowest level. A subsequent multiple comparison test grouped six components into three by levels of importance: Activity with experience and environment; motivation by itself, and risk with performance.
Tests of alternative definitions show significant differences in terms of level of agreement. The most acceptable definition is strongly associated with experience and environment, whereas the least acceptable one is associated with physical danger. Although the new proposed definition is not strongly supported, the results confirm that activities, experience, and environment are the most important components that should be used to define adventure travel.
Profiles of the participants' business were analyzed to examine the empirical application of the definition. Tour operators/wholesalers and DMOs/NTOs were the two major groups. The respondents represented a wide range of business categories in the adventure travel segment. Rafting, kayaking, hiking, trekking, and ecotour trips were the most popular adventure travel activities cited by the respondents.
Analyses of several open-ended questions show that the most popular
words to describe adventure travel are 'participation in physical activities.'
This confirms that activity is the most important component in describing
adventure travel. Tests of the benefits of adventure travel deliver similar
results in that activity, environment
and experience are also the most important benefits of adventure travel.
Limitations of Study
The structural limitations of study included (1) The limited amount of literature directly associated with adventure travel; and as a consequence, (2) some probable misunderstanding or misinterpretation in importing past leisure or recreation theories to the adventure travel segment in terms of structural differences between the two fields.
The limitations in methodology included (1) The limited size and distribution of the sample population (178 exhibitors at the International Adventure Travel and Outdoor Show); and (2) the limited physical efforts to conduct the survey only by one researcher within a short period of time (four days). In addition, it should be noted that the distribution of the survey population was heavily concentrated in the North American market. The extension or generalization of North American profiles to other nations and cultures should be treated with a degree of caution.
The results of this study clearly provide some insights for the adventure travel industry. It can be suggested that adventure travel products or services should be developed. The major components including activity, environment, experience, risk, motivation, and performance should be integrated to reflect their relative levels of importance. For tour operators and wholesalers, the active, experiential nature of adventure travel presents relatively specific target markets represented by highly activity-oriented travelers expecting more sophisticated levels of experience and expertise.
Unlike traditional leisure or recreation studies, within adventure travel, the nature of the risk element has to be carefully attached to the notion of "perceived" risk rather than to just the provision of a "dangerous, risky" setting. As such, adventure travel experiences could be managed by operators at their greatest effectiveness with an appropriate balance between the performance skills to participate in specific activities and the real and perceived risk in a secure, safe environmental setting.
Segmenting the market with a standard definition should help management identify some of the major trends and management issues that arise in the adventure travel segment. It is also expected that future studies and practices may depend to a certain extent on how this definition is used to explore its empirical applications. For future marketing research, a pre-test to examine the proposed definition by consumers may increase its creditability and validity.
The purpose of this study is to develop a comprehensive definition of adventure travel to build a conceptual framework for the interpretation and presentation of the definition. It is assumed that the nation of 'adventure' had its origin in past leisure or recreation studies and that the volumes of literature generated in the past 25 years could provide a framework for constructing further theory and conceptualizations extended to the adventure travel industry for empirical application.
Activity, environment, and experience have been identified as key variables to compose a definition of adventure travel and should be integrated with other components such as risk, motivation, and performance. The hypothesized definition proposed and examined in this study needs additional thought and development, and could be improved with greater reflection on the survey findings. It is still recommended that an integrated approach be adopted to both the constructs, 'adventure' and 'travel.' However, care should be taken since this is a case of a highly activity-oriented segment emphasizing sophisticated levels of experience and expertise rather than traditional risk and motivation theories.
As a result, a new definition of adventure travel is proposed as:
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