We Are Travel are passionate about responsible and sustainable tourism, and support all of our customers in making positive choices when travelling abroad. Part of the ethos of responsible travel is how we as tourists can help support the development and sustainability of local communities and economies.
In this modern age there are so many different ways that we can see the world. Some of us choose a two-week ‘flop and drop’, where we only leave our sunbed to take a cooling dip in the pool. Others opt for an intrepid 8-day trek to the infamous Everest Base Camp, sleeping in teahouses and reminiscing over our long lost en-suite facilities. The impact of our travels and the contribution to responsible tourism can vary greatly depending on where and how we choose to explore the world.
Adventure Travel vs Traditional Tourism
The rising trend in ‘adventure travel’ reflects our growing intrigue and enchantment with foreign cultures and landscapes. For many years, those working in the travel industry have held the assumption that activity and adventure tourism has helped to increase employment opportunities and drive increased investment at a local community level in a number of destinations. Even more so than traditional beach and pool-based tourism.
The Adventure Travel Trade Association set out to test this theory by modelling the impact of adventure travel on local economies in Jordan (which has seen a considerable increase in adventure tourism over recent years). They found that an average of 7.3m USD was generated by adventure tourism in the region; of which 65% remained in the local community. That means nearly $5m worth of new jobs and investment for local people.
When compared to a traditional tourism model based on the ‘flop and drop’ ideal, they found that only 14% of the millions of dollars spent by visiting tourists remained in the local economy. That is a huge difference in impact.
This is supported by the World Travel Organisation research, highlighting that with mass tourism, over 80% of holiday revenue is directed to airlines, hotels and other international outlets. In contrast, 65.5% of total travel expenditure per adventure tourist go directly to the local communities.
How does Adventure Travel support communities?
Adventure travellers on average have a higher budget than mainstream tourists; but despite considerable growth it is still a relatively small player in the travel industry. Mainstream tourism still accounts for the highest proportion of traveller spend across the world – where the dollar is spent on resort-based, all inclusive destinations operated by large international corporations.
Our view is that this can be driven by a number of factors:
- Traveller Ethos – Adventure travellers tend to stay away from ‘all inclusive’ deals and opt to spend money in local shops, restaurants and hotels rather than large, international chains. They tend to have a keen interest in international cultures and therefore spend money with local traders and family-run establishments.
- Flexibility – generally speaking, adventure travel itineraries tend to spend time in multiple destinations; encouraging travellers to explore local villages and communities rather than spending time at the pool or the beach. This level of flexibility tends to spread the tourist dollars wider than holidaymakers that are based in a single community throughout the duration of their trip.
- Local Activities – Getting out and about in a destination supports the development of local communities operating specific tourist activities such as boat trips, guided treks and wildlife drives. These offer direct employment opportunities for local residents and encourage entrepreneurship in specialist destination management companies.
If you are interested in learning more about responsible and sustainable tourism, please take a look at our additional content below: