2009 Research Roundup

By ATTA Partner, Xola Consulting

A running theme throughout this year’s Research Roundup is global change and intense competition. The report explores the intensifying competition between industries as well as global competition for critical natural resources such as water.

We see product cycles now factored in a matter of months rather than years; population, demographic, urbanization, wealth and lifestyle changes shifting within and between countries before our eyes; and these trends are having fundamental impacts on the way most industries – including adventure travel! – operate on the world stage.

Overlaying these issues is an evolving geopolitical landscape fraught with a variety of concerns such as drugs and drug-related violence, terrorism, potential pandemics, the negative effects of economic development such as pollution, and most importantly from our current view, the escalating effects of climate change and water scarcity on the well-being of many people, countries and regions of the world.

This year’s research roundup takes a broader view than past studies. It addresses the information needs not only of the adventure industry’s current constituencies of adventure tour operators, national policy makers, destination marketers, tourism boards and NGOs but also of what we hope will be a wider group of companies in adventure tourism’s value “web” such as those in the larger tourism value chain around the world. These include:

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  • International economic development practitioners, those developing climate change and mitigation strategies most particularly in areas of the world of key interest to adventure-tourism advocates
  • Various outdoor equipment retailers with interests in promoting adventure travel in all of its forms,
  • Other global multinationals with interests in developing sustainable businesses in rural communities globally

We believe that the industry is on the cusp of some major changes and that this year’s RR can serve as the beginning of a roadmap for tracking those changes. Each company in the supply chain needs to think clearly about its strategy and operating plan and to update them frequently, testing all of the assumptions made on at least a yearly basis to see what was accurate and what was not. As compared to last year’s RR, which focused on providing a detailed analysis of current performance data most particularly of the tourism supply chain, this year’s RR attempts to evaluate longer-term consumer trends globally and their effects of destinations and tour operators.

We couch these trends in the context of the effects of climate change and water scarcity on adventure tourism and the financial implications for the mitigation and adaptation strategies needed to counteract these effects. We finish with a discussion on global financing trends, with particular emphasis on the difficulties for entrepreneurial-driven companies and adventure travel companies, which are being exacerbated by the looming financial requirements associated with climate change.

At Xola we believe the adventure tourism industry has an important opportunity to join the emerging global dialogue about the direction and role of tourism internationally. In our work we will continue to explore how adventure travel figures into economic development strategies for rural areas as well as into mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change and water scarcity.

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