How COVID-19 is Affecting the Adventure Travel Industry

How is COVID-19 affecting the adventure travel industry? Let us count the ways! 

It’s no secret that the pandemic is changing pretty much, well, everything, but the tourism industries worldwide have been profoundly affected for obvious reasons. Most tourism operators experienced a sudden drop-off as borders closed and localised restrictions occurred, and a 34.7% decrease in travel and tourism revenue is expected globally between 2019 and 2020. OECD countries are expecting a 60-80% decrease in international tourism over 2020. 

So what should we anticipate in coming months, and perhaps even years?

Think local and focus on word-of-mouth

Where some adventure tourism operators might have had 60%, 80% or more of their business coming from international visitors, this market will have closed off practically overnight for most. There’s no doubt about it – to remain relevant in the adventure travel industry, focusing locally is going to be particularly important in the short to medium term. 

The great news is as restrictions lift, people tend to be even more motivated than usual to jump in the car and go on a local adventure. And after all that sitting at home, what better than adrenaline-filled activities like abseiling, canyoning or skydiving? Now may actually be the perfect time to market to those looking for an energetic escape from the living room.

The other huge potential of focusing on the local market is that when borders do open up and international visitors do return, you could have plenty of word-of-mouth recommendations from local guests. 

Adventure tourism could bounce back relatively soon

The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) conducted a survey of US adventure travellers in June and July of 2020, and the results indicate that adventure travellers could resume near pre-COVID-19 levels of travel spending as soon as 2021, albeit at an estimated 7% less than their 2019 travel expenditure. The ATTA also expects that younger generations such as Gen Z will be amongst the first demographics to really embrace adventure tourism again, at least in the US. And research shows that this generation values safe and sustainable tourism.

It’s going to be key to be prepared for this, wherever your business happen to be. It will be wise to:

  • Monitor any changes regarding local and national borders, and adjust marketing and targeting to suit your target audience as they evolve.
  • Consider updating your cancellation and postponement policies to increase flexibility for guests.
  • Keep guests in the loop with regular email and social media communications, including about your hygiene and safety policies. 
  • Spend some time thinking about how to optimise (and share) your sustainability measures.
  • Use your Wherewolf database to share promotions, and encourage and reward word-of-mouth recommendations to friends and family.

We’ve put together some helpful tips on boosting your local marketing, including creating local demographic personas so you can pinpoint your marketing to get the best ROI.

The world may be different, but people will always be seeking out new and exciting experiences – just a little closer to home for the time being. 

Of course, a large factor is maintaining trust and confidence as your guests book and attend your activities. And now is the perfect time to be offering a contactless online waiver…

Try Wherewolf Lite for free here, or schedule a demo of our full product suite here.

This is a great chance to try out the Wherewolf activity waiver app, because we’re now offering our base plan free for up to 400 waivers a month.

We’ve done this to help the tour and activity industry move forward and adapt to these changing times. Wherewolf Lite allows you to send completely contact-free activity waivers for guests to fill out, either via a direct URL, a customised QR code scanned on their own device, or through easy integration with popular booking software. 

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