Adrenaline Tourism: Chasing the Thrill and the Markets

by Daisy Modiano – abouTourism

As we enter a new decade and step into a new age, it is becoming obvious that certain travel trends drive the emergence of new types of tourism or expand existing ones, and with them several destinations that are trying to catch up.

“Adrenaline tourism”, “thrillcation”, “extreme tourism”, “controlled edge tourism”, “danger tourism”, are just a few of the terms that incorporate the evergrowing need of the new generation of tourists that want to “experience”…everything.

From new forms of extreme sports and activities like “sky walking”,

“rock jumping”,

”bridge climbing”

“shark diving”

“crocodile swimming”

“ostrich racing”

”sand boarding”

or ice-diving

to extreme weather and nature related types like “tornado chasing”

and “volcano tourism”

and from the  “catastrophe tourism” like visiting Chernobyl

or the sinking islands of Tuvalu

to paying to get kidnapped or re-enact a border crossing in Mexico, experiencing an unsolved mystery

or a World War II Wreck Diving Session

or even take a war zone tour to Afghanistan the list is growing fast.

The fact is that this imaginative list of “extreme” activities is driven by the major travel trends of our time, which speak of escapism, adventure, transformation and authenticity. The generic term “experience” which has been used a lot during the past years to describe the changing travel trends is now being specified to the above terms meaning that the contemporary traveler wants to “escape” from stress and daily routine, has ceaseless expectations for unique and culturally authentic local experiences and is looking to be transformed during their vacations, mentally, physically or emotionally.

What does that mean for destinations

According to a study on how to reach Gen Y adventure travelers “WhatUp World? Marketing Adventure Travel to Gen Y”,     “Marketers aiming to reach GenY adventure travelers must recognize that the travel habits of this group are by no means homogeneous,” Natasha Martin, lead consultant on the study. “Given the variation, marketing messages must consistently focus on micro-specialization, and endeavor to speak simply and specifically about destinations and activities”.

Cases: Tourism Promotion

Adrenaline fuels tourism campaign

The Ipswich and Visitors Tourism Association (IVTA) has spent the past 18 months working on a campaign titled High Adrenaline, which involves the collaboration of more than 30 businesses, hotels and restaurants. Read more at: http://www.qt.com.au/story/2010/07/22/plan-mooted-thrill-daredevils-new-tourism-campaign/

Adrenaline Queenstown

100% Pure Adventure in Queenstown! What’s on your ‘to do’ list? Take the opportunity to fulfil lifelong ambitions or explore your special interests. From pure culture to extreme adventure, it’s all here.

Honduras Adrenaline Rush

From white water rafting and zip lining through the rainforest, to galloping through the countryside on horseback and diving deep into the underwater world Honduras offers travelers many opportunities to find an adrenaline rush while on vacation.

Arkansas Extreme Adventure

Looking for an adrenaline rush? Arkansas is the place for an extreme adventure vacation! From motocross riding and off-road ATVing to rock climbing and hang gliding in Arkansas, we’ve got you covered! Breathtaking scenery beckons thrill seekers and our diverse landscape provides an outlet for your adventurous spirit: Read more at: http://www.arkansas.com/outdoors/adventure-sports/

Market Intelligence:

According to the same report’s findings about GenY adventure travelers:

  • 82% choose destination before deciding budget, and 74% research trips on the Internet
  • They tend to stay at destinations longer and travel deeper than other travel segments, resulting in expenditures that can have great impact in destinations
  • They travel with a purpose – to explore and engage with other cultures
  • 50% include cultural experiences in their definition of “adventure;” they travel to develop deeper understanding of their personal or cultural heritage
  • 82% have college degrees or higher
  • They are well-read and have a holistic view of the world, making them comfortable in seeking out destinations and adventure travel opportunities outside of the traditional mainstream

Since authenticity and localised experiences is what travelers seek, it is apparent that the floor is open for any type of destination to draw on their unique characteristics and update, rejuvenate and differentiate their product offering accordingly. Adrenaline tourism can be a viable way to do just that.

“So long as the only ones suffering are the tourists, then good luck to it!”

(Peter Burns, Professor of Tourism at Brighton University)


Additional Reading

Catastrophe Tourism – See Sinking Tuvalu Yourself! State Secretary Admits: “We’re Sensationalising The Topic”Tuvalu Island Video

México now a hot spot for danger tourism

Frommer’s 18 Adrenaline Adventures

Beyond the Adrenaline Rush: Rethinking Traditional Adventure Travel Marketing For Gen Y

Planes, Trains & Smartphones: Trends Affecting Adventure Travel in 2011

4 thoughts on “Adrenaline Tourism: Chasing the Thrill and the Markets

  1. As today do not exist any borders and tourists can go anywhere, experience is the new trend. Unique experience is the aim and the purpose that plays the peak role in decision making. Sigulda, city in Latvia (The Baltic States) promotes itself as the Capital of the Unique Activities. This is the only city where you can find winter and summer bobsledding, Aerodium – vertical wind tunnel, bungee jumping + there are many other activities like catapult, tobogganing track, zip slides, cycling on the rope, boarding on rope, canoing, hunting ect. Read more on http://www.tourism.sigulda.lv

  2. I do not think this is tourism but only the expression of a kind of boredom in our affluent societies. It seems that we need passion, tension, stress, in order to kill the anguish inside ourselves.
    Other thing is the real sport, the love for risk, the need to explore, but it seems to me that what we call extreme tourism is another way of consumerism. Behind that is the emptiness of existence, the nonsense of many boxed lives.

    1. Hello and thank you for sharing your thoughts. The issue is that attention and support should be focused on tourism’s positive implications to global communities.

      In this respect this article attempts to show how destinations can use emerging trends such as adrenaline tourism to strengthen their position in the industry and enhance their related economy for the benefit of their local community.

      Please take some time to look at some examples of “positive” tourism initiatives:

      http://www.tourismconcern.org.uk/,
      http://www.unwto.org/step/index.php,
      http://www.peacefoundation.org.za/env_read_more.html

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