Supported by a global trend towards itinerant traveling, back to nature and authenticity, responsible travel markets showed encouraging signs for the summer season: adventure tourism and trekking continues to attract travelers interested in nature and in local community meetings; voluntourism is democratizing and developing a growing number of customers on a really niche market; eco-tourism is doing well despite the crisis, affecting less the higher income travelers; participatory tourism especially in urban areas increases but is still very dependent on the weather and individual last minute bookings.
Within a difficult economic climate, travelers are looking to cut costs without losing quality of services; looking for travel adapted to their expectations, they are increasingly likely to move toward tour operators specializing in tailor-made travel. At the same time, atypical, original and environmentally responsible accommodations are still valued in regions where the territory’s identity turned to authenticity, the landscapes and to sustainable development policy.
When leaders of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), WWF International and Google addressed more than 600 tourism industry professionals during the 2012 Adventure Travel World Summit in Lucerne, Switzerland in October, a common refrain emerged: “adventure travel” had arrived as a new face of responsible tourism.
“Adventure tourism is what tourism should be today and definitely what tourism will be tomorrow,”said Mr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) referring to inevitable shifts in the leisure tourism market toward more experience-based, responsible and lower-impact – environmentally and culturally – travel.
Later in the week, WWF corroborated the trend toward more responsible tourism, upping the ante by introducing a new travel division with new leadership, while Google’s chief of travel, Rob Torres, indicated serious consumer trending toward more experience-based, responsible tourism. In additional keynote and concurrent sessions, tourism, conservation and technology leaders such as Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and co-founder of Blue Legacy and Darrell Wade, CEO of PEAK Adventure Travel indicated a shift in attention on the global stage to the power of adventure travel as an economic driver, as a force of sustainable development and one that delivers to travelers transformative experiences in nature, culture and active travel.
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