Study Ranks Top Adventure Travel Countries

A study published by George Washington University, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and Vital Wave Consulting has revealed that Israel, the Slovak Republic and Chile are among the top adventure tourism destinations for 2010.

The Adventure Tourism Development Index (ATDI), now in its third year, offers a ranking of countries around the world based on principles of sustainable adventure tourism and is calculated through a combination of expert survey data and quantitative data gathered from international indices.

“When we first developed the technical method for scoring countries in 2008, we didn’t know how it would be received,” said Kristin Lamoureux, visiting assistant professor of tourism and hospitality management. “Three years later, countries are using the Index to argue for sustainable tourism over less favorable types of tourism development.”

The top 10 developed and developing countries are as follows:

Developed Countries: Switzerland, Iceland, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Norway, Finland and Austria.

Developing Countries: Israel, Slovak Republic, Chile, Estonia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Jordan, Romania and Latvia.

“The ATDI ranks countries based on key touristic value pillars including sustainable development policy and entrepreneurship, putting importance on these issues which we now know are crucial not only for communities and the environment but also for business success,” said Christina Heyniger of Vital Wave Consulting.  Heyniger originated the concept of the Index and the principles on which it is based. “Looking at this year’s rankings we see Eastern European countries again dominating the emerging-market rankings, and also the appearance of Canada in the top 10 for developed countries.”

Countries were ranked by 10 pillars organized into three factors:
•    Safe and welcoming: sustainable development, safety, natural resources and health
•    Adventure: entrepreneurship and adventure activity resources
•    Readiness: humanitarian, infrastructure, cultural resources and image

The scores are not a reflection of a country’s current popularity or visitation numbers for adventure travel, although in some cases a country’s ranking does correlate with those factors.

“The adventure travel industry is keenly aware of the potential advantages and disadvantages of adventure tourism development,” said Shannon Stowell of the Adventure Travel Trade Association. “The ATDI is an important tool our industry has to promote travel, which requires less development than traditional industry.”

With the goal of promoting and informing sustainable development of adventure tourism, the ATDI was created to support entrepreneurs and governments who want to create and market sustainable adventure tourism products and services for the benefit of communities and the environment.
To view the study, visit

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Randy Mink

Contributor: Randy Mink

Randy Mink is the Managing Editor of Leisure Group Travel Magazine. He is based in Chicago, IL.

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