Prognosticators have been thrown for a loop over the past 18 months as the world has been turned upside down and everyone’s been thrust into this “new normal.” Not only were we blindsided by travel’s shutdown, but predicting how business recovers and what the future holds becomes a difficult task when we’re focused so hard on how we’re going to make it to the next day.

All We Have is the Future

But it’s precisely at times like this when it’s most important to focus on the future. Sure, there’s pent-up demand that should be driving interest in domestic tours. And as international borders open to vaccinated tourists again, “early adopters” will fill those seats. But is that enough to sustain a full and prolonged recovery?

What everyone should be concerned about in the group travel industry is that percentage of older travelers who’ve hung up their spikes, no longer interested in traveling again. It could be due to health reasons, it could be fear, it could be monetary issues – but we know that X% won’t be back on our trips. Facing that reality, what’s next for our business? For our industry?

Inspiration Starts in This Edition

Active, outdoor and adventure tourism has consistently ranked at the top of travelers’ priority lists and has been one of the shining beacons during this pandemicstunted travel year. Expect as the world recovers, this segment of the business will be the driver of tourism over the next generation. It’s not just me saying this. The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) has been leading this charge for nearly two decades and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) coined adventure travel “the future of tourism.”

What’s important to note here is that the term “adventure travel” casts a wide net – adventure travelers come in all shapes, sizes and age groups. They could enjoy paddling in a canoe or a class IV rapid. They could get a thrill out of rappelling a sheer cliff or walking on a paved trail. Tackle rugged terrain on a mountain bike, or a lakeside path on an e-bike. Whatever shape it takes, adventure travel makes us feel alive and what should be clear is that the beauty of this world is best experienced by participating, not watching.

One final word: adventure travel goes hand in hand with sustainable tourism, so look for opportunities to incorporate both as you tweak itineraries into the future.

By Jeffrey Gayduk