By MOHAMAD KHAIRI ALWI
The adventure tourism market in general is moulded by active individuals or groups of enthusiasts who possess unique personality traits and psychological eagerness towards adventurous endeavours. The adventure tourists are also willing to spend considerably high amount of money in exchange of personal pursuit for thrills and adventures, either in selecting the types of challenging activities they want to participate or choosing the types of adventure destinations they wish to visit.
In related perspectives, many remote and previously inaccessible natural areas have been converted into adventure tourism venues. These venues are presently equipped with appropriate and conducive infrastructures to facilitate the ‘selling processes’ of adventure tourism. Furthermore, with the assistance from various supporting channels such as websites, guide books, magazines, clothing suppliers, merchandising outlets, as well as travel agents, the prospect for adventure tourism as a profitable long-term venture and lucrative tourism industry is indeed showing promising signs.
The above-mentioned influences have undoubtedly enticed a significant amount of investment, particularly in terms of product development, infrastructure construction, and related service provision by adventure tourism operators. The unique demand of adventure tourists and the associated potential income generation opportunities have been fully exploited by adventure tourism operators to offer specialised services, as well as to create diversity and flexibility of the adventure activities to obtain wider market segments. Consequently, two classifications of promotional initiatives can be observed, namely operator initiative, and destination initiative.
The operator initiative can be defined as the particular promotional efforts done by adventure tourism operators in the forms of activity type, operation and services offered. In this context, it can be further divided into two categories.
The first category refers to adventure tourism operators specialising in one specific activity and concentrating their promotional efforts in a precise destination or several other locations where their expertise and proficiency-specific services can be put to good use. Adventure tourism operators specialising in hiking adventures are among those included under this category. These operators primarily focus on promoting hiking-related activities to a specific market segment (hikers) and offer their services either in one specific hiking trail or any other available trails in various locations.
The second category, on the other hand, refers to adventure tourism operators who are multi-skilled and focus their promotional efforts by offering a variety of adventurous activities to their prospective clientele. Their services may be concentrated in a particular venue or could also be offered in numerous other locations. An example of this category is an adventure tourism operator with the ability to handle different types of activities and promote numerous participation opportunities such as white-water rafting, hiking, and high-rope activities in an area of operation.
The destination initiative can be demarcated as the promotional approach of selling adventure tourism products in a particular destination. Similar to the former main classification, this promotional initiative can also be divided into two key categories.
First, some adventure tourism operators who operate in a particular area specifically aim for adventure tourists and offer a broad range of commercial adventure packages. A classic example of this approach can be seen in Queenstown, New Zealand. With the robust branding of ‘Adventure Capital of the World’, Queenstown has aggressively promoted itself to cater to a wide range of ‘adrenaline junkies’ via a variety of adventure products such as the renowned “Awesome Foursome”. A Malaysian example that could be classified as utilising similar promotional approach is Gopeng, Perak. Although there are yet to be any specific adventure branding promoted by the local authority, Gopeng is undeniably a ‘one stop centre’ for adventure tourism in Peninsular Malaysia, which caters for numerous adventure activities such as white-water rafting and kayaking, waterfall abseiling, caving, high rope activities, river tubing, rock climbing, mountain biking, and jungle trekking.
The second destination-based promotional initiative of adventure tourism occurs in the forms of an amalgamation of various tourism products. Rather than prioritising the efforts to attract adventure tourists, existing tourism developers and travel agents diversify their strategies by combining adventure tourism services with other tourism products to attract wider attention among the available tourism markets. Examples in this context are Cairns, Australia and Sabah, Malaysia. Both destinations have been successfully appealing to a large number of tourists due to the effective ‘blending’ of tourism products (such as urban exploration and cultural experiences) with adventure tourism.