Demand for adventure travel soars, especially to Iceland, Ecuador, Chile: Virtuoso survey
Adventurers in Iceland.

Demand for adventure travel soars, especially to Iceland, Ecuador, Chile: Virtuoso survey

NEW YORK — The vast majority (95%) of Virtuoso travel specialists say they have seen active, adventure and specialty travel sales rise within the past 12 months. The same percentage sees demand for this style of travel increasing in the next two to three years.

All survey respondents are advisors and preferred partners taking part in the Virtuoso Active and Specialty Travel (VAST) program.

The top adventure destinations gaining in popularity are Iceland, Galapagos/Ecuador, Costa Rica & Chile/Patagonia (tie), New Zealand, Peru, Cuba, Antarctica, Arctic/North Pole, South Africa and Australia.

“Adventure travellers are broadening their horizons beyond well-known European cities to seek new frontiers off the beaten path,” says the luxury travel specialist. “Latin America is especially popular, as active travellers can experience their desired combination of nature and culture there. Remote, unspoiled destinations such as Antarctica and the Arctic are also sought after by upscale adventurers.”

The top activities preferred by active and specialty travellers are hiking/trekking, biking, kayaking, small-ship expedition cruising, food and wine, safaris/wildlife viewing, walking, photography, scuba diving and arts and culture.

In terms of demographics, the largest number – 41% – of adventure travellers are between 50 and 65, says Virtuoso. Almost one-quarter (24%) are between 35 and 50; 21% are 65+ and 14% are under 35. Couples, including honeymooners, are the most common type of adventure traveller. They are followed by immediate families, friends travelling together, solo travelers and multigenerational family members.

Driving adventure travel’s popularity, as cited by respondents, are the desire to commune with nature, checking experiences off a bucket list and spending quality time together on family and multigenerational trips. Today’s older travellers are also more active due to improved longevity and health.

Respondents also provided their top tips for adventure travel: “Challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone and being open to new activities”; “Familiarize yourself with the culture of the destination by meeting interesting locals”; “Look at the world in a new way: gain a fresh perspective and possibly even change an opinion”; “Travel now, because some of these destinations are changing fast and may not be in this state in just a few years” and “Don’t try to do too much. Keep travel distances manageable and build in rest days and free time.”

The survey, conducted between February and April 2016, received input from 125 advisors and partners participating in the Virtuoso Active and Specialty Travel (VAST) program.

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