TABLE OF CONTENTS - Adventure Travel Trade Association

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TABLE OF CONTENTSINTRODUCTION1METHODOLOGY4ADTI4Expert Panel4Social Media Listening5HOW TO USE THE INDEX7ADVENTURE TOURISM DEFINED8TOP TEN COUNTRIES FOR ADVENTURE TRAVEL9BIGGEST MOVERS10RANKS AND CLUSTERS12ONE DECADE ON13RANKINGS BY CATEGORY151.16Government Policy that Supports Sustainable Development2. Safety and Security183. Health204. Natural Resources225. Cultural Resources246. Adventure Activity Resources267. Entrepreneurship288. Humanitarian309. Tourism Infrastructure3210. Brand34ANALYSIS OF FACTORS36Safe and Welcoming Factor36Adventure Factor37Readiness Factor37REGIONAL OUTLOOK38SOCIAL MEDIA LISTENING39DESTINATION SNAPSHOTS41

Mont Blanc41Everest Base Camp44Inca Trail48LOOKING AHEAD52A USEFUL TOOL54P1ATDI 2018 REPORTPhoto Credit: ATTA / Border Free Travels

INTRODUCTIONThe year 2018 marks a decade since the launch of the Adventure Tourism Development Index (ATDI).In 2008, the Adventure Travel Trade Association, the George Washington University InternationalInstitute of Tourism Studies, and Xola Consulting (now retired) collaborated to develop abenchmarking tool in the form of an index for destinations seeking to build sustainable adventuretourism markets. The ATDI assesses countries’ potential and readiness to compete in the globaladventure tourism market based on their scores in ten pillars. The pillars capture a variety of metricsrelevant to planners, policy makers, and tourism entrepreneurs.P2Photo Credit: ATTA / Rupert ShanksThe ATDI’s ten pillars of Adventure Market Competitiveness are organized in three factors as shown below:Safe and Welcoming Sustainable DevelopmentSafetyNatural ResourcesHealthAdventureReadiness Entrepreneurship Adventure Resources HumanitarianInfrastructureCultural ResourcesImageATDI 2018 REPORT1

At its core, adventure travel is defined as a trip that encompasses natural, cultural, and physicalelements. Since the first index report in 2008, the preferences of adventure tourists have changed, inturn causing tour operators and other trip providers to evolve their services. As a result, the definitionof adventure travel has changed. A recent study by the ATTA in cooperation with Outside magazineand East Carolina University found that adventure travelers’ motivations included the opportunity toexperience the novel and unique, to take on some form of challenge, to have a positive impact, and inmany cases ultimately to undergo a transformation of some sort.The ATDI measures elements of tourism development that destination managers can change, as well assome that are simply out of their hands (one cannot create more coastline, for example). A country’s scorescan help tourism managers and developers grapple with the challenge of homing in on where to focus.In 2008, the effect of the global economic crisis on tourism, including adventure tourism, was unknown.Despite concerns that the sector might experience a downturn, it has grown steadily over the past eightyears. Research shows adventure tourism to be a particularly resilient niche, and when destinationsproactively invest in their adventure markets, arrivals increase. For instance, at the AdventureNEXT tradeevent in May 2018, Jordan’s Tourism minister Lina Annab revealed that subsequent to a focusedapproach toward adventure tourism development, which included several collaborations with ATTA andnew product development, including the Jordan Trail, tourism arrivals in the country increased by 15% inone year. On the commercial side, 96% of 2018 AdventureNEXT buyers (forty-two were in attendance)said they were “very interested” in adding Jordan to their destination portfolios.The ATDI provides an impartial perspective, sincethe majority of its results are drawn from third-partydatabases. This year, the ATDI is expanded inscope to directly reflect what travelers are sayingabout the world’s most popular adventure activity:hiking. The team at the George WashingtonUniversity International Institute of Tourism Studiesused social media netnography, analysis of onlinereviews that travelers spontaneously share onsocial media, to help destinations better understandhow to improve management of their naturalPhoto Credit: ATTA / Rupert Shanksresources and better meet traveler expectations.ATDI 2018 REPORT2

A study of the three of the most popular hikingdestinations—the Inca Trail, Mount Everest BaseCamp, and Mount Blanc—provides destinationmanagers with a holistic view of travelerfeedback from these destinations to supportfuture planning. Although this study limited thesocial media component to hiking specifically,destination managers may consider using thisapproach more broadly, taking into accounttravelers’ online reviews when evaluatingadventure resources and other core assets fortourism development.Photo Credit: ATTA / Rupert ShanksSocial media activity can be useful in tracking the popularity of destinations, and also to gaugewhether a particular destination is nearing a popularity tipping point. This is especially signficant inlight of the new phenomenon of overtourism, a rapidly emerging challenge to tourism destinationsglobally. Many adventure destinations, including natural areas, cultural heritage sites, and even ruralareas, are being visited by more tourists than they can comfortably accommodate. This complexchallenge calls for new solutions to reduce pressure points, mitigate the environmental footprint oftourists, and help tourists travel smarter.Destinations such as Peru and Greenland, for example have specifically adopted adventure tourismstrategies to preserve the places and unique experiences that draw adventure tourists. The ATDIremains a useful tool for destinations looking to prioritize this growing segment, and policy makerswould be well advised to follow the lead of destinations that are actively addressing the challengesassociated with overtourism and its heavy ecological footprint.ATDI 2018 REPORT3

METHODOLOGYThis section summarizes the research methodCountries recognized by the United Nations arefor the two main components of this report: thebenchmarked in the ATDI and are represented inbenchmarking scores for the ATDI, and thetwo groups: Developed Countries and Developingsocial media listening component.Countries. ATDI 2018 includes 28 DevelopedCountries and 163 Developing Countries.ATDIThe ATDI scorecard is the only country-levelranking index for adventure tourism thatincorporates data from non-subjective sources,offering a perspective to complement whatsurveys and expert opinion about individualdestinations can reveal. Using data from a widevariety of indicators and a diversity of sources,including GDP, population density statistics,protected areas, the EnvironmentalPerformance Index (EPI), the World ResourcesInstitute, and Foreign and CommonwealthTravel Warnings, in addition to survey datafrom industry experts, the ATDI provides policymakers and tourism planners with a uniqueThe ATDI uses a combination of third-party dataand expert opinions. The composition of eachpillar is provided in the Excel Workbook, availablefor download on with missing data points were given ascore of one. In the case of those that weremissing the EPI, the average regional score wasused as substitute.However, if more than five data points weremissing, the country was dropped from the ATDIcalculations. Twenty-two countries (11.5% of thetotal) had at least one missing data point.look at the adventure tourism opportunity.EXPERT PANELThe ATDI uses a panel of industry experts to help determine pillar scores for specific components ofthe index. Experts are people with more than five years of experience in the adventure travel industry.They are able to comment on any of the countries that they have visited in the past five years. Oneexpert may comment on several countries. The ATDI uses a three-year moving average of expertsurvey results. If a country does not have three years of expert survey results, the ATDI uses anaverage of the available data. Each country has at least three expert responses.ATDI 2018 REPORT4

In 2018, there were 185 experts on the panel;P540% were women and 60% were men. Onaverage, experts had 15.5 years of experience intourism and 12.5 years in adventure tourism.ATDI experts consisted of: Tour Operators: 58.4%; Travel Writers: 5.4%; Developers: 9.2%; andPhoto Credit: ATTA / Rupert Shanks Other: 27% (Tourism DevelopmentConsultant, Travel Advisor, Travel Agent,Travel Marketer, Writer)SOCIAL MEDIA LISTENINGNew for 2018, the ATDI added social media listening to the analysis of countries. The ATDI rankscountries using national-level data from an array of global databases on key topics such as sustainabledevelopment policy. For policy makers and destination planners, this macro-perspective may beaugmented with local-level insights gathered through social media. Online reviews shared by travelerscan provide insights about their experiences in important adventure destinations. Social medianetnography as an analytical tool presents some challenges, including being “noisy.” To address thischallenge, the research team applied the ATDI’s pillars to help organize online reviews and theircontents for analysis.Over the course of several months, a team of graduate students and professors collected andanalyzed comments posted by hikers on the following review sites popular with adventure travelers:TripAdvisor, AllTrails, and TourRadar. Questions asked included the following: What are visitors saying about the adventure resource and their experiences? How are they really feeling about the integrity of the trail, the infrastructure at the destination, the level of service and knowledge of tour guides and staff, the operation of the tour by the touroperator, and their overall experience? How does the content of the online reviews that travelers share on social media align with theATDI pillars?ATDI 2018 REPORT5

The first step of analysis was to refine the definition of hiking, which for the purpose of thisexercise is: A multiday experience that occurs in a natural environment in which the hikers are either on a tourcarrying some if not all of their supplies or are traveling independently by foot.Destinations selected for analysis were: Mont Blanc, Inca Trail, and Mount Everest Base Camp (EBC).These destinations were chosen based on feedback from major tour operators, such as G Adventuresand REI, and how frequently these destinations are mentioned by twelve media outlets that compilelists of best places to hike. The team analyzed 100 English-language reviews of multiday hikes for allthree destinations. Only reviews that were longer than one sentence were included. For the Inca Trailand EBC, reviews were collected from July 24, 2017, to July 23, 2018. For Mont Blanc, the parametersof the dates were extended to include 2013, since the majority of hikers are day-trippers, and for thepurpose of this study, multiday-experience reviews were preferred.Overall, the reviews covered twenty-five topics that fell into five categories, which were then alignedwith the ATDI’s pillars where a fit was evident. The five categories with corresponding topics arebelow. A full alignment of these categories with the ATDI pillars can be found in the Social MediaListening section of the report.1.Destination: transportation, camping,hotel and lodging, food and beverage,opportunities to support localbusinesses, weather and seasonality,overcrowding2. Trail: integrity of trail, resources such asmaps, scenery, garbage, health andsafety, level/perception of difficulty3. Tour operator: communication,organization/itinerary, customer service4. Tour guide/staff: interpretation of natureand culture, knowledge, customerservice, safety, communication5. Trip/Experience: value/price, interactionwith local people, interaction with otherhikers/customers, emotional reactionTwo independent researchers analyzed the reviews and compared the findings from each site. Incases where significant discrepancy was found in overall opinion, a third reviewer was invited in tobreak the tie.ATDI 2018 REPORT6

HOW TO USE THE INDEXThe ATDI is a tool that tourism destinationare part of the “High” cluster and arestakeholders can use to measure theirhighlighted in green. Countries in the bottomadventure competitiveness against competingquartile are part of the “Low” cluster and aredestinations. This allows them to identify wherehighlighted in yellow. Countries rankedtheir strengths and weaknesses lie in terms of“Medium” or “Low” should aim to move into thedeveloping a strong adventure market.“High” category, because this is where the mostcompetitive adventure destinations reside.From year to year the country rankings in theATDI shift based on individual country scores inSocial media listening can be used toeach of the categories. In addition to countryintegrate the traveler perspective into therank, countries are encouraged to consider theATDI’s macro level findings. These insightscluster to which they belong. Clusters are basedprovide a fuller picture of destinationon the groupings of countries with similardevelopment needs for destinationcompetitive scores such that the countries in themanagers. The intention is for destinationsame cluster represent a competitive set. Theremanagers to use this approach more broadly,are three clusters: High, Medium, and Low. Intaking into account traveler reviews whenthe data sheet, posted atevaluating adventure resources and, the mean score iscore assets for tourism development.highlighted in blue. Countries in the top quartileP6Photo Credit: ATTA / Hassen Salum

ADVENTURE TOURISM DEFINEDThe graphic below demonstrates the new definition of adventure tourism derived as a result of recentresearch.2On the left side of the graphic, the components of an adventure trip from the provider perspective areelaborated: nature, culture, and activity, with experience at the core. For adventure travel providers,recognizing how the individual elements come together to deliver an overall experience underscoresthe importance of considering the components of a trip as individual ingredients, and of stayingattuned to how they all fit together. This might mean considering carefully the sequencing of activities,the duration, and the time given for talking about or reflecting on the experience. In addition, thecomponents of adventure travel are located within the concept of impact. For developers of adventuretravel products, impact is an important consideration. Considering and planning for impact is a basic,foundational concern; all travel providers are operating in an environment in which they have impacton the places they visit.From an activity perspective, the traveler conception of “adventure” is always shifting. A sampling ofactivities associated with adventure travel could include joining an archaeological expedition;backpacking; bird-watching; camping, caving; climbing; getting to know the locals; hiking; horseback2Viren, Paige, et al. (2017). “North American Adventure Travelers: Seeking Personal Growth, New Destinations,and Immersive Culture.” ATTA.ATDI 2018 REPORT8

riding; kayaking; whitewater rafting; learning a new language; orienteering; joining a researchexpedition or safari; sailing, scuba diving; snorkeling; skiing and snowboarding; surfing; trekking; andmany others.From the traveler’s perspective, on the right side of the graphic, research indicates that adventuretravel is motivated by a variety of longings and desires that influence how travelers consume andemotionally process their trip. Travelers are seeking mental and physical wellness, novel and uniqueexperiences, challenge—whether physical or cultural—and often, ultimately, transformation. Travelersare also keenly aware of their impact and have a desire to have a positive impact on the environmentand communities they visit.To meet the definition of adventure travel, a trip must take an individual outside of his or her regularenvironment for more than twenty-four hours—and for no longer than one year—and include at leasttwo of the following three experiences: participation in a physical activity, a visit to a naturalenvironment, and a culturally immersive experience. (Trips longer than one year are not considered“travel” in the research context.)TOP TEN COUNTRIES FOR ADVENTURE TRAVELThe ATDI’s top ten list, as shown in the table below, highlights countries with strong potential foradventure tourism competitiveness. Recall that the ATDI does not capture visitor numbers and is not aranking for volume of tourists.RankDeveloped CountriesDeveloping Countries1IcelandCzech Republic2SwitzerlandIsrael3GermanyEstonia4New ZealandSlovak Republic5NorwayPoland6SwedenChileATDI 2018 REPORT9

7CanadaRomania8FinlandBulgaria9United KingdomSlovenia10AustraliaJordanKey Takeaways Sweden’s ranking has improved since the 2017 ATDI, moving up six places from numbersixteen to number six. This is a result of Sweden’s Sustainable Development score,which increased by 0.78 points, and their Health score, which increased by 3.04 points. Switzerland, which fell out of the top three for the first time in 2016, reemerged in thenumber two position in 2018. This is attributed to their Health score, which increased by3.5 points in 2018. The United Kingdom and Jordan reenter the top ten for the first time since 2009 and2010, respectively. Their scores have been steadily creeping up in most pillars.(Note that a detailed discussion of each of the pillars and the factors taken into account in derivingeach score can be found in the Rankings by Category section of the report.)BIGGEST MOVERSThe table below shows the movement of countries up and down in the overall ranking from2016 to 2018.RankCountryChange6Sweden 1089St. Vincent and the Grenadines-4499St. Lucia-22ATDI 2018 REPORT10

149Solomon Islands-22156Korea, Dem. Rep.-2283Trinidad and Tobago-19133Gambia, The-1985Egypt, Arab kistan-1488Sri Lanka-1352Oman-12120Antigua and Barbuda-11137Mozambique-11152Libya-11103Bosnia and Herzegovina-10110Malawi-10ATDI 2018 REPORT11

Examining the greatest movements in the overall ranking reveals that the greatest shifts have beendownward. Although the reasons for the overall drop in rank are unique to each country, a new releaseof the Environmental Performance Index, which informs the Sustainable Development pillar, had asignificant effect.The standout among the biggest movers is Sweden, which is the one country to move up dramaticallysince 2018. Sweden jumped up ten spots from number sixteen in 2016 to number six in 2018. Thereason for Sweden’s increase is a dramatically higher score in the Health pillar (up 3.04 points) alongwith increases in Sustainable Development, Natural Resources, Adventure Activity Resources, andHumanitarian scores.RANKS AND CLUSTERSThe table below features the high cluster for both developed and developing nations.4DevelopedIcelandP7SwitzerlandGermanyNew ZealandNorwayPhoto Credit: ATTA / Rupert ShanksNote that the high- and low-ranking clusters are calculated using the standard deviation of the full set ofcountries mean total raw score in each category. Therefore the high-ranking cluster is set at one standarddeviation below the mean, and the lower ranking cluster is set at one standard deviation above the mean.4ATDI 2018 REPORT12

DevelopingCzech RepublicHungaryIsraelLatviaONE DECADE ONEstoniaBhutanThe ADTI measures macro indicatorsSlovak ruguayBulgariaUnited Arab EmiratesSloveniaBotswanaJordanDominicaCosta RicaTurkeyKorea, Dem. Rep.Philippinesfor which change can be slow toregister; therefore, major shifts inranking are not generally seen yearto year. However, a comparison oftoday’s rankings versus the firstrankings of the index in 2008 revealssome notable changes.P8Photo Credit: ATTA / Border Free

Research shows adventure tourism to be a part icularly resilient niche, and when destinations proactively invest in their adventure markets, arrivals increase. For instance, at the AdventureNEXT trade event in May 2018, Jordan’s Tourism minister Lina Annab revealed that subsequent to a focused approach toward adventure tourism development, which included several collaborations with ATTA and .

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