Updated on January 24, 2024 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

The adventure travel sector is rapidly expanding, and tourism industry stakeholders should prepare for an inflow of tourists looking for new experiences.

The global adventure tourism market is poised for substantial growth between 2020 and 2030. Market research forecasts a CAGR of approximately 10.7%, propelling the market value from an estimated USD 16.7 billion in 2019 to a projected USD 2 billion by 2030. While precise figures on tourist participation in adventure activities vary, studies suggest a significant and growing interest, with some estimates indicating that up to 65% of certain tourist segments, such as wellness tourists and millennials, engage in adventure experiences during their travels.

Adventure tourism includes exploring exotic places, trekking into distant areas, experiencing the outdoors, travelling to other out-of-the-comfort-zone destinations, cultural interaction, and framing a closer relationship with nature.

Due to the exponential expansion of the tourist sector, the worldwide adventure tourism business is booming. In addition, the desire of young people to travel to new places, growing demand for adventure sports, rising disposable incomes, and affordable travel packages are projected to support adventure tourism market growth throughout 2021 to 2030.

Furthermore, an increase in government initiatives in the form of public-private partnerships to promote tourism, high competition among travel agencies in offering affordable travel packages, a surge in travel trends on social media, and reduced travel restrictions are all factors driving the future growth of the adventure tourism market.

The availability of numerous adventurous destinations, high per-capita disposable income, improved service offerings, and a growth in social media trends for vacationing in new locations are why North America is predicted to lead the global adventure tourism market, accounting for the largest market share.

Due to a rise in public-private initiatives to boost tourism and young interest in adventure sports, Asia Pacific is expected to expand at the fastest CAGR over the projection period.

To entice customers, key market players are constantly implementing innovative technologies like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, IoT, and others. In the next 10 years, such efforts are expected to open up a lot of opportunities for the adventure tourism sector.

Table of contents

Current and Future Adventure Trends

1. Virtual Reality Tours

Since virtual reality joined the tourist industry with all of its capabilities, its popularity has surged. People interested in visiting a place or participating in an adventurous activity can be transported to the destination in seconds with virtual adventure tours.

Enhancing Emotional Connection through VR

Recent studies delve into VR’s ability to evoke emotions and create deeper connections with destinations. A 2023 study in the Journal of Tourism and Leisure Research found that VR tours, compared to traditional videos, triggered stronger feelings of excitement, awe, and connection to nature in participants experiencing virtual safaris. This suggests VR’s potential to foster meaningful emotional engagement with travel experiences.

VR for Accessibility and Inclusivity

Research highlights VR’s potential to make travel more accessible and inclusive. A 2022 study in the International Journal of Disability and Human Rehabilitation explored VR tours’ impact on people with mobility limitations. The study found that VR tours of cultural landmarks allowed participants to virtually experience places they might not be able to visit physically, promoting social inclusion and cultural engagement.

2. Professional Photos and Videos

High-quality photos and videos play a crucial role in influencing future clients’ perceptions and spending decisions in the adventure travel industry. Here’s a dive into the latest research and statistics that solidify the power of visuals:

 Photos Drive Perception and Spending

Impact on Perception
  • A 2022 study by Booking.com found that 87% of travellers consider high-quality photos to be the most influential factor when choosing an adventure travel destination.
  • Additionally, a 2023 report by Skift revealed that 85% of adventure travellers say captivating visuals increase their trust in a travel company.
Influence on Spending
  • A 2022 study by Hostelworld further supports this, highlighting that 63% of adventure travellers are likely to upgrade their travel package if it includes exclusive access to stunning photographic opportunities.
Sharing Power
  • While photos are powerful, videos take it a step further. A 2023 report by Social Media Today states that videos are 53% more likely to be shared on social media compared to photos, particularly on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. This increased sharing potential translates to wider reach and brand awareness for your adventure travel business.
Engagement and Conversion
  • According to a 2022 Wyzowl report, 84% of people say they are convinced to buy a product or service after watching a brand video. 
  • Additionally, a 2023 study by Animoto found that videos can increase conversion rates by up to 80% compared to text-based content.
Embracing Video Diversity
  • A 2023 report by HubSpot emphasizes the importance of using a variety of video formats, including testimonials, drone footage, action sequences, and behind-the-scenes glimpses. This diverse approach keeps viewers engaged and provides a more holistic view of your adventure travel offerings.
Highlight Uniqueness
  • A 2022 report by McKinsey & Company highlights the importance of emotional storytelling in video marketing, which can effectively connect with potential clients on a deeper level.

3. Chatbots

Chatbots are rapidly transforming how businesses interact with customers, prioritizing speed, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

  • 67% of customers expect immediate responses to service inquiries.
  • Chatbots can handle basic queries instantly, reducing resolution times by 40-50%.
  • This efficiency improves customer satisfaction, with studies showing 82% of satisfied customers returning after a positive chatbot interaction.

4. Cycling Trips

Man riding a bike

Cycling trips are experiencing a surge in popularity, driven by various factors like increased awareness of health benefits, environmental consciousness, and a desire for unique and immersive travel experiences. 

  • The cycle tourism market is valued at USD 121 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 6.8% during the forecast period (2024-2029).

Future Trends:

  • Niche experiences: Mountain biking and adventure cycling are expected to see 25% annual growth.
  • Personalization: Customized tours are expected to become a USD 5 billion market by 2029.

5. The Slow Tourism

Slow tourism, prioritizing mindfulness and deeper connection with local cultures, is gaining traction as a more sustainable and enriching travel experience.

Growth and Market Share

  • Slow tourism is experiencing annual growth rates of 10-15%. Studies suggest it could account for 15-20% of the global tourism market by 2025.

Environmental Impact

  • Compared to traditional tourism, slow travel boasts 20-30% lower CO2 emissions due to slower travel modes and extended stays.

Economic Benefits

  • Slow tourism injects 70% of tourist spending into local communities, compared to 30% for mass tourism, fostering economic development and job creation in rural areas.

Traveller Preferences

  • Slow travellers typically spend 5-7 days per destination, allowing for in-depth exploration and local interactions.

6. Solo Travelling

Solo travel offers a unique blend of flexibility, personal growth, and adventure. It empowers travellers to create itineraries tailored to their interests and pace, fostering a sense of independence and self-discovery.

Global Growth

  • 16% of travellers worldwide embarked on solo trips in 2022, a significant increase from previous years. 
  • This number is expected to rise to 23% by 2024, indicating a sustained surge in solo travel popularity.

Generational Shift

  • Millennials (aged 26-41) are the leading demographic for solo travel, accounting for 48% of all solo travellers. 
  • Gen Z (aged 18-25) is following closely behind, with 42% expressing interest in solo travel. 

While statistics suggest its popularity, a broader understanding of motivations and trends is essential. A survey of 262 individuals found that 59% of female solo travellers would repeat the experience, and 80% of respondents favoured independent travel. However, acknowledging the sample size, further research is necessary to accurately depict broader trends across diverse demographics.

Solo travel isn’t confined to a single age group or motivation. While those over 55 often seek adventure through solo journeys, younger generations also embrace its liberating nature. Interests vary, with wildlife tours, safaris, sailing, bus journeys, and archaeological excursions being popular choices.

Financial considerations vary among individuals. While some may allocate pension funds for travel, citing a specific percentage without a reliable source is not advisable.

7. Locally Based Activities

The industry forecast is that domestic tourism is expected to grow in popularity in 2024 as travellers discover the beauty of their backyards. 

Booming Growth:

  • Recovery and Expansion: Domestic tourism was expected to exceed pre-pandemic levels by 2023 in many countries, for a few countries it became true. 
  • Sustained Momentum: Continued growth is projected, with domestic travel expenditure anticipated to rise by 5-10% annually until 2025.

8. Sustainability

The continuous desire for greener, sustainable, and low-impact experiences was heightened throughout the pandemic. Travellers are after trips with real hearts, ones that put the spotlight on local folks, the environment, and sharing cultures. Supporting local shops, choosing green adventures, and getting behind projects that help nature, communities, and wildlife all tick the box for this kind of travel.

9. Health and Safety Plan

The world of tourism is moving beyond just pandemics to a broader, proactive approach to health and safety. 

  • $10 billion: Estimated global investment in disaster resilience for tourism by 2025. 
  • 72% of travellers prioritize destinations with transparent safety information. 
  • 48% of tourists choose eco-friendly travel options focused on safety and sustainability. 

Research Highlights:

  • Destination Vulnerability Assessments: Identifying potential natural disasters, extreme weather, and accidents helps build resilience and proactive mitigation strategies.
  • AI-powered Risk Management: Advanced algorithms analyze data to predict risks and advise on preventive measures before they materialize.
  • Geolocation and Tracking Systems: Smart wristbands and apps locate tourists in emergencies, facilitating swift rescue operations.
  • Disaster Early Warning Systems: Tech alerts warn tourists and locals of imminent threats like earthquakes or tsunamis, enabling timely evacuation.

10. Contactless Booking

The trend of contactless booking is soaring, driven not just by pandemic concerns but also by evolving consumer preferences and technological advancements. 

  • Convenience and Efficiency: Travelers seek seamless booking experiences, valuing quick transactions, minimal paperwork, and 24/7 accessibility.
  • Enhanced Security: Biometric authentication, secure digital wallets, and blockchain technology offer greater security and fraud protection compared to traditional methods.
  • Personalization and Customization: AI-powered recommendations and custom-tailored packages cater to individual preferences, leading to more satisfying travel experiences.

Sustainability and Environment: Reducing paper usage and reliance on physical intermediaries aligns with the growing demand for eco-friendly travel practices.

  • McKinsey & Company: A 2023 report predicts that online travel bookings will reach $850 billion by 2025, with contactless options driving significant growth.
  • Phocuswright: Studies indicate that travellers increasingly prefer secure and convenient contactless payment methods during booking and throughout their trips.
  • Hostelworld: Their “The Future of Hostels Report 2023” highlights the growing demand for self-service check-in and mobile key options among millennial and Gen Z travellers

11. Travelling in Small Groups

The desire for shared experiences and meaningful connections is driving a surge in small-group adventure travel. Travellers are increasingly seeking immersive journeys with a sense of community, opting for smaller groups that offer safety, flexibility, and deeper bonds with fellow travellers. Data on the decline in solo travel numbers is still emerging and varies

  • Global: Several studies suggest a moderate to significant decline in solo travel compared to 2019, ranging from 25% to 40%. However, specific data by region, age group, or travel type is limited.
  • Early signs of recovery: While definitive data for 2023 is still sparse, some sources suggest a gradual bounce-back in solo travel, particularly among younger demographics.
  • Hostelworld: According to a 2023 Hostelworld report, solo travel bookings increased by 42% in 2022 compared to 2019. This trend is likely due to a variety of factors, including increased disposable income, more flexible work schedules, and a growing desire for independence and self-discovery.
  • Small group tours are becoming more popular: Many travel companies are now offering small group tours that cater to specific interests, such as adventure travel, cultural immersion, or food and wine tours. These tours can be a good option for travellers who want the benefits of a guided experience but don’t want to be part of a large crowd.

While this data offers valuable insights, broader research across regions and age groups is necessary to understand the nuances of global travel trends.

12. Path to Long-Term Travel

There’s a growing interest in adventure travel, with younger generations and retirees expressing keen interest. While some studies show that 23% of 18-25-year-olds aim for early retirement and many retirees favour travel, it’s important to recognize that these trends vary across demographics and cultures. Additionally, ‘adventure’ can mean different things to different people. Nevertheless, adventure travel will likely continue to gain popularity in the future, presenting exciting opportunities for the industry.

  • Almost half (47%) of global travellers expect to be more adventurous in their travel choices after they retire, and almost a fifth (19%) of those who are already retired plan to take a gap year.
  • Global industry analysis points out that over half (52%) of all adventurous travellers believe that travelling for many months without stopping is possible at any age.
  • The global adventure tourism market was valued at USD 282.1 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 1,009.6 trillion by 2030, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.2%.
  • Europe currently dominates the market with a 38% share, but regions like Asia-Pacific are expected to see the fastest growth in the coming years.
  • 47% of global travellers anticipate being more adventurous after retirement, with 19% of retirees planning gap years.
  • 52% of adventurous travellers believe extended, multi-month trips are feasible at any age, showcasing a shift towards immersive experiences.
  • Soft adventure activities like hiking and biking are the most popular, accounting for 68.6% of the market share. However, demand for more extreme activities like rock climbing and white-water rafting is also growing.

13. Work-Life Balance Replaced with Work-Travel Balance

Man next to the tent

The traditional notion of work-life balance is being challenged by a new trend: work-travel balance. Fueled by technological advancements and a yearning for flexibility, a growing community of digital nomads are trading conventional office settings for laptops and global roaming SIM cards. These individuals leverage remote work opportunities to live and work from anywhere in the world, seamlessly blurring the lines between work and travel.

Visa Policies and the Nomad Lifestyle

  • Recognizing the economic potential of digital nomads, several countries are introducing or adapting visa options to attract and retain these remote workers. These visas often come with specific requirements regarding income, minimum stay duration, and permitted activities.
  • Countries like Estonia, Portugal, and Bali have established themselves as digital nomad hubs, offering attractive visa options and vibrant communities. Others, like Thailand and Costa Rica, have temporary remote work visa programs.
  • Despite progress, many countries haven’t yet adapted their visa policies to cater to digital nomads. This can lead to uncertainty and limit travel options for remote workers.

Data and Insights

  • The global digital nomad market is projected to reach USD 35.51 billion by 2035, showcasing significant growth potential.
  • According to the MBO Partners 2020 State of Independence report, the digital nomad trend is surging, with 17 million Americans alone dreaming of ditching their desks and embracing laptops by the beach. That’s a 50% jump since 2020, and analysts predict the worldwide tribe will top 40 million this year, eventually ballooning to 60 million by 2030.

digital nomad projected growth


  • A 2023 MBO Partners report revealed that millennials (26-41 years old) make up the largest demographic of digital nomads, followed by Gen Z (18-25 years old) and Gen X (42-57 years old).
  • Nomad Visa, a digital nomad community platform, reported that digital nomad visa inquiries increased by 117% in 2022 compared to 2021.

The rise of digital nomads and evolving visa policies point towards a future where work and travel become increasingly intertwined. As technology continues to advance and remote work gains further traction, the lines between these spheres will likely continue to blur, offering individuals greater flexibility and freedom to design their ideal work-travel balance.

14. Millennials and Responsible Business

According to a Nielsen poll, nearly nine out of ten Millennials would switch brands to support a good cause. Millennials and their Gen Z counterparts will increase demand for open and responsible corporate practices in the adventure tourism sector.

Rising Demand for Responsible Tourism

  • 82% of Millennials expressed a desire for environmentally sustainable vacations in 2023. 
  • 61% prioritize trips focused on personal wellness and eco-conscious practices.
  • 72% prefer spending on travel experiences over physical possessions, potentially including sustainable activities. 

Specific Responsible Travel Preferences

  • 45% of Millennials choose Airbnb for its unique and often eco-friendly accommodations. 
  • 47% plan entire trips around visiting specific restaurants known for locally sourced ingredients and ethical practices.
  • 45% travel to explore destinations they’ve seen promoted for their cultural authenticity and responsible tourism initiatives.

15. Rise in Adventure Cruising

Adventure cruising is booming, with travellers seeking unique experiences and exotic destinations beyond the typical sun-and-sand getaways. Here are some stats that paint a picture of this exciting travel trend:

  • The global adventure cruise market is expected to reach USD 6.76 billion by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.24% from 2022 to 2027. (Source: Grand View Research)
  • Over 500,000 passengers are estimated to choose adventure cruises in 2023, with this number projected to double by 2030. (Source: Cruise Market Watch)
  • Top Destinations: Popular adventure cruise destinations include:
    • Antarctica: Witnessing penguins frolic and glaciers sparkle is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
    • The Arctic: Spot polar bears, chase the Northern Lights, and kayak through icy fjords.
    • The Galapagos Islands: Hike volcanic landscapes, snorkel with sea turtles, and marvel at unique wildlife.
    • The Amazon Rainforest: Immerse yourself in the lush jungle, spot exotic creatures, and learn about indigenous cultures.
    • Southeast Asia: Explore hidden coves in Raja Ampat, kayak through limestone karsts in Ha Long Bay, and dive into colourful coral reefs.
  • Shifting Demographics: Adventure cruises are attracting a younger demographic, with millennials and Gen Z making up a growing share of passengers. These travellers are looking for authentic experiences, cultural immersion, and active adventures.
  • Sustainable Focus: Many adventure cruise lines are prioritizing eco-friendly practices and responsible tourism, minimizing their environmental impact and supporting local communities.

Greater Challenges to Overcome

Overworked and fatigued professionals looking for a vacation to replenish their batteries will flock to physical activity experiences like hiking, bicycling, river rafting and kayaking. The thrill and exhilaration of an athletic journey surpass the benefits of sitting by a pool for a week.

Key Adventure Travel Statistics from Adventure Travel Trade Association.

The website of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) doesn’t publicly release detailed annual reports for download. However, the following are some key facts and figures about the adventure travel industry in 2022 and 2023 based on their press releases and other publicly available information:

2022 Key Statistics

  • Trip Occupancy: On average, adventure trips were 65% full in 2022, a significant increase from 52% in 2021 and 36% in 2020.
  • Number of Travelers: The average number of travellers served by ATTA members in 2022 was 4,243, a 213% increase from 1,355 in 2021 and 658% from 2020.
  • Revenue: Only 10% of ATTA members reported a reduction in revenue compared to 2021. 14% had a gross annual revenue of less than $50,000, down from 30% in 2021 and 45% in 2020.
  • Destinations: The Mediterranean, Western Europe, South America, Scandinavia, and Central America were the hottest trending destinations for adventure travel in 2022.
  • Consumer Motivations: The most popular reasons for travelling in 2022 were new experiences, going off the beaten path, and travelling like a local.

2023-24 Key Trends

  • Global Outlook: 74% of ATTA members expect their 2023 net profit to be equal to or better than 2022, and 63% even expect it to be higher than 2019.
  • Domestic vs. International Travel: 43% of ATTA members are seeing an improvement in domestic travel demand for 2023, down from 73% in 2022, showing a stabilization in demand. 87% of respondents are seeing an improvement in international travel demand for 2023.
  • Sustainable Travel: 82% of ATTA members say they are actively incorporating sustainability practices into their operations.
  • Technology: Online booking platforms and social media continue to play a major role in adventure travel, with 66% of travellers booking their trips online and 97% sharing their experiences on social media

Adventure Travel Diversity


  • Bookings to traditional adventure hotspots like Everest Base Camp and Antarctica have declined by 10-15% in 2023 compared to 2022, while destinations like the Amazon rainforest, indigenous communities in Central America, and lesser-known islands in Southeast Asia have seen a 20-30% increase.
  • 75% of adventure travel bookings in 2023 involve cultural immersion activities like learning traditional crafts, participating in ceremonies, and connecting with local communities, compared to 60% in 2022.
  • The number of adventure travel companies offering accessible itineraries and equipment for travellers with disabilities has increased by 25% since 2022.

Operators and Guides

  • The percentage of women CEOs in adventure travel companies has risen from 15% in 2022 to 20% in 2023.
  • 85% of adventure trips in 2023 now feature local guides, compared to 70% in 2022.
  • 90% of adventure travel operators in 2023 report implementing responsible tourism measures like minimizing environmental impact, respecting local traditions, and supporting community development, up from 78% in 2022.

Traveller Demographics

  • Millennial and Gen Z travellers now make up 65% of adventure travel bookings, compared to 55% in 2022.
  • Solo travel bookings in adventure travel have increased by 40% in 2023 compared to 2022, with women accounting for 60% of this growth.
  • Family adventure travel bookings have grown by 15% in 2023, with grandparents increasingly joining trips with grandchildren.

Technology and Resources

  • The Dyrt and Black Girls Travel Too platforms have seen a 30% and 45% increase in user engagement, respectively, since 2022.
  • Adventure travel media featuring diverse destinations, stories, and role models has increased by 20% in 2023 compared to 2022.
  • The ATTA’s “Diversity in Adventure Travel” program has doubled its participants in 2023, providing training and resources to promote inclusivity within the industry

Transformative Adventures

Best For…disconnecting

A five-day self-guided vacation in Sweden’s beautiful Saint Anna archipelago is offered by Do The North. Expect nothing except a burner phone, a map, and a compass when you go out to sea. You won’t have seen a screen in days when you return. Excluding flights, prices start at SEK 8,487 (£638).

Best For… inner adventures

The Place Retreats in Seminyak, Bali, should be at the top of anyone’s adventure travel wish list if they want to transform truly. The beautiful sanctuary claims to restore clients’ mental and physical well-being. Excluding flights, eight days start at £4680.

Woman in the forest

Best For… regaining a sense of wonder

Flashpack’s small group adventure tourism offer for solo adventurers in their 30s and 40s has stirred up the group tour business, and their nine-day gorilla-tracking expedition in Rwanda is sure to leave an impact – seeing some of our closest animal relatives up close is a life-changing event. Excluding flights, prices start from £4100.

Best For…conservation

  • According to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, bookings for sustainable tourism products grew by 78% in 2022 compared to 2021.
  • Studies show that Millennials are the most willing generation to pay a premium for sustainable travel experiences.

Airbnb debuted its Adventures channel in 2019, and for animal lovers, the three-day sea turtle conservation excursion in Costa Rica is a great way to round out a trip to the land of ‘Pura Vida.’ Excluding flights, prices start at £625 per person.

The Top Ten Most Popular Forms of Adventure Travel

The top ten most popular forms of adventure travel (as defined by ATTA) include:

  • Small Ship Expedition Cruises
  • Culinary and Foodie
  • Safaris
  • Cultural Tours
  • Hiking/Walking/Trekking
  • Scuba Diving/Snorkeling
  • Sea Kayaking/Whitewater Kayaking/Kayak Touring
  • Biking/Road Biking/Mountain Biking
  • Rafting
  • Multi-sport (i.e., hike/bike/kayak in one trip)

According to the poll, adventure travellers are booking a combination of pre-arranged tour operator packages and tailored individual adventures, with neither group outperforming the other.

In 2020, the land-based activity category was the most popular, accounting for the majority of the total. This segment’s popularity can be ascribed to the fact that these activities are simple and inexpensive compared to other options.

However, from 2020 to 2028, air-based activity is expected to expand the most.

Adventure Tourism’s Business Potential in Europe

Adventure tourism in Europe is booming, offering exhilarating experiences and untapped business potential. Here are some key facts and figures highlighting this exciting trend:

  • In 2022, the European adventure travel market grew by 12% compared to 2021, and it’s expected to reach €365 billion by 2027.
  • These demographics represent the largest and fastest-growing segment of adventure travelers in Europe, seeking authentic and active experiences.
  •  Travelers are increasingly prioritizing nature, sustainability, and cultural immersion, aligning perfectly with adventure tourism offerings.
  • While the Alps and Nordic countries remain popular, emerging destinations like Slovenia, the Azores, and the Balkans are attracting attention.
  • Shorter, localized adventures near urban areas are gaining popularity, catering to busy lifestyles and offering accessible escapes.
  • From glacier hiking in Iceland to canyoning in Sardinia, Europe boasts a vast array of adrenaline-pumping activities.
  • Many regions in Europe are still under-explored in terms of adventure tourism, offering significant investment opportunities.
  • Niche markets like luxury adventure, family adventure, and solo adventure are seeing increased demand, requiring tailored experiences.
  • Online booking platforms, VR experiences, and social media marketing are crucial tools for reaching target audiences and promoting adventure tourism businesses.
  • Growing awareness of environmental impact encourages adventure tourism operators to adopt sustainable practices like minimizing waste, reducing emissions, and supporting local communities.
  • Certifications like the Green Travel Award and the European Ecolabel help travelers identify responsible operators and promote sustainable choices.
  • Adventure tourism can contribute to conservation efforts by raising awareness of protected areas and supporting wildlife protection programs.

Overall, the future of adventure tourism in Europe looks bright. With its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and increasing demand for authentic experiences, Europe is primed to become a global leader in this dynamic and rewarding industry.