Adventure tourism involves exploration or travel to remote exotic areas. It includes unique and challenging experiences during the vacation, in which travelers interact with local populations and connect with their core values. Adventure travel is a kind of niche tourism, which includes numerous activities such as caving, motorcycling, climbing, cycling, hiking, hunting, rafting, and others.
The Global Adventure Tourism Market is expected to reach US$1,335,738 million by 2023, according to Allied Market Research. The market was valued at US$444,850 million in 2016, and with the expected growth, it will register a CAGR of 17.4% from 2017 to 2023.
Adventure tourism is growing exponentially worldwide, as travelers prefer to visit previously undiscovered destinations. Moreover, with the increase in government initiatives in the form of public and private partnership to promote tourism has led to growth of the adventure tourism market. However, involvement of high risk in adventure travelling and unpredictable weather conditions hinder the growth of the market. Irrespective of challenges, increase in social media trend has created a huge opportunity for adventure travel market, as Facebook has become the most preferred social network among travelers to share experiences.
In 2016, Europe dominated the global market with more than one-third share, in terms of value. Asia-Pacific is estimated to witness the highest growth rate during the forecast period. The soft adventure segment generated the highest revenue to the global market in 2016, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.8%. The air-based activity segment is estimated to register the highest growth rate, in terms of revenue, registering a CAGR of 18.2%.
So, where does the African Region fit into this global space? Africa is slowly catching up to the rest of the world. Following are some of the key tourism trends in Africa:
- Inbound travel remains positive despite challenges: Issues such as terrorist threats in regions such as East and West Africa; South Africa’s strict restrictions on travelling with minors – which had a negative impact on countries such as Namibia – and visa restrictions (which have been relaxed since early 2016) limited tourism’s potential in these regions. Despite these challenges, the tourism sector in Africa continued to grow as much remains that make it an attractive destination. Solid economic growth for the continent has seen arrivals and receipts increasing, with both leisure and business travel prospering. Through the growth in inbound tourism and an uptick in domestic tourism, particularly in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria, tourism remains resilient.
- Increased focus on domestic tourism: There has been a concerted effort across the continent to encourage citizens to get out and explore their own country. A major issue is the lack of a travel culture, with African citizens perceiving travel as expensive and non-essential. To address this, various tourism campaigns and marketing initiatives have been launched across the region to showcase what countries have to offer their citizens and to position local destinations as affordable travel options. As a result, locals are slowly changing their attitude towards domestic travel due to collaborative efforts between industry players and the government to promote domestic tourism by showcasing the incredible adventures that await local travellers.
- Short-term rentals are booming: Value sales for short-term rentals are still considerably behind hotel sales, but in terms of value growth, short-term rentals are outperforming their hotel counterparts. With players like Airbnb entering the accommodation industry and shaking things up, hotels are increasingly coming to terms with the new competition, and are also now investing in short-term rental players, by launching new brands to adapt to changing consumer demands.
- The sharing economy is gaining traction: Sectors such as car rental and lodging are changing fast due to the entry of peer-to-peer brands such as Uber and Airbnb. South Africa is the largest market for such brands in Africa – more South Africans are joining the platform as hosts to generate income from their unused assets – and with consumer awareness growing, the trend is expected to intensify as travellers are increasingly seeking cheaper accommodation options.
- Multi-channel approaches: Despite offline sales remaining more prominent, internet transactions are increasing and the online travel environment continues to record a dynamic performance. Although by global standards, the online channel is still at its infancy stage in Africa, travel companies across all categories are embracing it to offer travel services. Travel industry players are increasingly implementing a multi-channel approach – making use of various platforms to engage with consumers and drive traffic to their sites using social media, meta search engines, affiliate programmes, etc.
- Growing competition between low-cost carriers and state-owned airlines: Low-cost carriers recorded the most dynamic retail value growth within the airlines category over the review period, and are stimulating demand in many local airline markets. Due to growing demand, many state-owned airlines are also increasing capacity on popular routes such as Cape Town and Johannesburg in an effort to remain competitive. As competition between low-cost carriers and state-owned scheduled flights increase, so does price competition for local flights.
- Expansion and development of luxury resorts and hotels: Africa is witnessing increasing expansion and development of luxury resorts. Driven by the presence of international hotel brands and foreign investment, hotels led value sales, accounting for 45% of overall lodging value sales. Although Southern Africa has increased in importance, West Africa has represented more than half of the total.
- MICE boosting tourism: The Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions sectors is emerging as a new growth frontier and is one of the fastest growing segments in tourism. The MICE sector is boosted by a growth in business travel – over 36 billion business trips were taken in 2016 – and is characterised by business travellers spending six times more than leisure tourists. Many African countries are tapping into this sector and hope to develop it further with conference facilities being built across the continent in major cities such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos, and Abuja.
- Niche tourism is growing: While Africa has traditionally been marketed as a safari destination, African countries are starting to move away from this and are starting to explore other niche categories such as medical tourism, eco-tourism, adventure tourism, etc. Following the trend for personalisation, there is an increase in the development of tailored package holidays, with tailored packages for solo travellers also predicted to be developed and become dynamic niche products.