Encyclopedia of Tourism

Living Edition
| Editors: Jafar Jafari, Honggen Xiao

Adventure tourism

  • Damian MorganEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-01669-6_229-1


Tourism Development Wealth Distribution Mountain Bike Rock Climbing Nature Tourism 
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Adventure tourism encapsulates a broad range of structured and unstructured tourist products. An adventure takes place when participants use their skills and abilities to face uncertain and often novel challenges. Participants, whether novices or experienced, may require sufficient personal fitness to engage both real and perceived risks, including risk of injury, during adventures. Although tourist adventures are typically nature based, they may also happen in built environments. Its duration may vary, for example, from an hour-long white-water rafting trip to months of bicycling through remote and exotic locations. Successful negotiation of the challenge by the participant is accompanied by positive affective responses such as thrill or excitement. Meeting and overcoming them result in feelings of enjoyment and achievement (Morgan et al. 2005).

Commercial adventure tourism operations and tours have evolved typically following the discovery and promotion of suitable locations by intrepid individuals or specialized activity groups (Buckley 2006). The rapid development and growth of commercial adventure tourism products over the last five decades reflect a sizable participant market characterized by social affluence, time availability, and the desire for rousing experiences. Commercial operators facilitate adventures by providing guides, transport, and equipment. The level of a participant’s skills and fitness required to engage successfully in adventures will vary according to the activity types and characteristics of the physical location.

Commercial adventure activities are available on every continent, including Antarctica. Dunford (2008) describes key adventure opportunities available in various countries including surfing in South Africa, white-water rafting in Zambia, snorkeling in Australia, mountain biking in France, sailing in Spain, trekking in Peru, and rock climbing in Canada. Estimates reported in the Adventure Tourism Development Index (ATDI 2012) suggest that 25 % of trips contain an adventure component, with this proportion forecasted to rise to 50 % by 2050. This source also reports country rankings for adventure tourism competitiveness based on scores from industry experts summarized for three categories: safe and welcoming, adventure, and readiness. Switzerland followed by New Zealand was the highest-ranked developed country, with Chile and the Czech Republic the highest-ranked developing countries.

Buckley (2010) has identified key adventure tourism trends. These include using adventure labels for marketing destinations or events, packaging complementary adventure products, and offering high-cost luxury adventures. External factors potentially impacting adventure tourism, among others, are climate change, global wealth distribution, and threats to national security. Many pertinent research questions concerning adventure tourism are yet to be explored, including the nature of product demand and ensuing adventure experiences, supply characteristics, and relationships between demand and supply in the context of the wider operating environment.


  1. ATDI 2012 Adventure Tourism Development Index 2011 Report www.adventuretravel.biz/research/ (9 August 2013).
  2. Buckley, R. 2006 Adventure Tourism. Oxford: CABI.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buckley, R. 2010 Adventure Tourism Management. Oxford: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  4. Dunford, J. 2008 Adventure Tourism: Europe. Travel and Tourism Analyst 8:1-47.Google Scholar
  5. Morgan, D., K. Moore, and R. Mansell 2005 Adventure Tourists on Water: Linking Expectations, Affect, Achievement and Enjoyment to the Sports Tourism Adventure. Journal of Sport Tourism 10:73-88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federation Business SchoolFederation UniversityChurchillAustralia