When it comes to choosing where to escape to, inspiring shows such as Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Round and Comic Relief’s ongoing celebrity challenges have had a dramatic impact on travel styles in recent years...
... helping ensure adventure travel is increasingly on the holiday map.
In addition to raising millions, last year’s images of Cheryl Cole and Chris Moyles summiting Mount Kilimanjaro resulted in a 400% increase in bookings to Africa’s highest mountain, while David Walliams’ cross-Channel swim in 2006 contributed to the renaissance in wild swimming. So what impact Eddie Izzard’s gruelling 43 marathons in 51 days endurance feat and Helen Skelton’s extraordinary 2,010-mile kayak down the Amazon River will have on the nation’s psyche remains to be seen.
The recent A Passport to Adventure travel trend report published by TUI Travel Adventure Companies – which includes well known brands such as Exodus and Imaginative Traveller - revealed that 190% of holidaymakers are more likely to take an adventure holiday in the next three years than in the previous three.
What’s more, small group travel is forecast to increase to nearly eight million adults over the next three years, with 61% of those who have taken a small group adventure holiday saying they will take another one.
A world away from the traditional ‘shop and flop’ style getaway, part of the appeal of a group adventure holiday is the buzz of sharing new experiences with around 13 other like-minded people, frequently without the need to pay the dreaded single supplement.
Imaginative Traveller (www.imaginative-traveller.co.uk; 0845 077 8803) has a ‘no compulsory single supplements’ policy on most of its 600 plus tours to cater for the growing number of solo customers. Whichever continent its guests are travelling in, the team simply arranges twin share accommodation with another tour member of the same sex.
Likewise, The Adventure Company (www.adventurecompany.co.uk)
So popular have their holidays proved amongst people holidaying on their own that The Adventure Company has now introduced a series of solo departure holidays, all clearly marked on their website. With over 30 of its worldwide tours offering departures which cater specifically for single travellers, all levels of adventure and experience are welcome. Whether someone is looking for an adventure-filled long weekend in Jordan, the chance to take in the best scenery and wildlife that Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua have to offer or a more hardcore trek up Tanzania’s highest peaks, there’s plenty to get excited about.
For many, however, the biggest holiday headache is what to do with younger intrepid explorers. As the leading family adventure specialist, The Adventure Company is a firm believer that travel can help broaden children’s horizons and their Family Adventures brochure offers over 70 family-focused trips catering for children as young as two through to active teenagers.
As with their adult trips, The Adventure Company’s family holidays cover most continents and activity styles, from cultural to wildlife-focused and from active to relaxing. Families generally travel with up to four or five like-minded families, totalling an average of 14 passengers and never more than 20 to ensure the groups remain small enough to venture further off the tourist trail.
Claire Wilson, Managing Director at The Adventure Holiday, said: “Speaking as a parent, it seems that family life has got even more demanding over the last year – families need a decent holiday break more than ever before! Our regular parent travellers give us great feedback and we know how much they value this quality time together. They particularly like the fact that we provide carefully designed family itineraries and dedicated Group Leaders as this means they can avoid the unnecessary hassle of organising things themselves and can get on with participating in the family fun.”
Whilst the effect of taking the pressure out of holiday planning means that their trips are generally popular with solo parents, the operator also offers dedicated single parent departures. Again, these trips cover all corners of the globe, from Croatia via Morocco to Vietnam, and ensure all parents can experience the world with their children.
Speaking of the increasing trends towards a more adventurous style of holidays, Colin Stump, the MD of TUI Travel’s Adventure brands, explained: “Our recent ‘A Passport to Adventure’ report predicts a 70% increase in participation in adventure travel over the next three years as people become inspired by the idea of enjoying activity-focused holidays to iconic destinations. Celebrity coverage, such as Comic Relief challenges from Kilimanjaro to kayaking down the Amazon, has undoubtedly played a significant role in increasing awareness of this holiday style to those who may be new to adventure travel, helping make this growing sector of the holiday market seem more accessible.”
As demonstrated by the celebrity challenges, demand for ethical and environmentally sensitive travel is predicted to quadruple over the next three years, with travellers’ concern about the world around them increasingly reflected in their choice of travel experience. In short, many holidaymakers no longer want just to ‘give’; they want to ‘do’ as well when heading abroad.
Having identified a gap in the responsible tourism market, The Adventure Company recently introduced a new style of holiday which allows adults and children alike to spend two or three days getting involved in a local community or conservation project.
As part of the company’s ten new Hands On Adventures, travellers spend a couple of days getting directly involved in projects within a longer holiday and this interaction with local people helps travellers really get under the skin of the culture. Experiences on offer range from tracking bears in Slovakia’s Tatras Mountains to spending time in a remote village in a tsunami-affected region of southern Thailand.
“Our new Hands On Adventures bridge the gap between Voluntourism trips and holidays that simply provide financial support to worthwhile causes,” explained Claire Wilson. “The Adventure Company has for many years promoted community-based tourism activities and donated money to responsible tourism projects through our charitable foundation, but feedback from our customers suggests they are keen to be more proactively involved. The key to our Hands On Adventures is ensuring a significant amount of time is dedicated to practical assistance, giving greater fulfilment to the traveller and tangible contributions to the chosen projects.”
With so many new holiday styles opening up, there’s never been a better time to dust down that spirit of adventure.
By Suzanne Seyghal, Adventure Division PR Manager, TUI Activity Sector.