Welcome to the UN’s Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development! Sustainable tourism and adventure tourism are intimately connected—and it’s all for good.
When you hear “adventure tourism,” you can think anything from horse packing over narrow mountain passes, kayaking through iceberg-laden straits, scaling strange rock structures, and anything in-between. What is it and why is it worth studying?
With its three distinct parts—physical activity, cultural exchange, and connection with nature—adventure tourism is not only worth doing, it’s worth studying, too. There’s risk. There’s adrenaline. There are new skills to experience—and for some adventure travelers, new skills to be mastered.
From bungee jumping to zip-lining, kayaking to deep-sea diving, backpacking to caving, mountain biking, mountaineering, trekking, diving, kiteboarding, and disaster tourism, adventure tourism has its place both in your travel—and your study—repertoire.
The industry relies on guides—seasoned experts in the type of adventure. They’re qualified in their adventure sport, have strong interpersonal skills, and understand hospitality and business.
Want to explore this exciting field? Let’s take a closer look at why you might want to consider an adventure tourism degree.
1. Growing Field
Adventure tourism is a big niche market. Last fall, PRNewsWire reported that international adventure tourism is expected to grow by at least 46 percent by 2020. In 2016, adventure tourism grew heavily in Europe, with a focus on paragliding, kite surfing, and mountain trekking.
What does this mean? It means that there’s plenty of room for young experts to enter the field. It’s not just guides that the adventure tourism industry needs. It’s everything that goes along with it, from adventure tourism accommodations, to trip planners, event managers, marketing and finance directors, and advertising, public relations, and communications. Not to mention a desire to jump off a cliff while tethered to something precarious...
2. Bored? Nah.
It doesn’t matter the size of the company. You can lead tours anywhere in the world, anytime, depending on your desire and flexibility. You can travel the world—or stay put and lead folks on adventures that they wouldn’t otherwise have. Learn a new language. Learn new skills. Learn how to negotiate with tour operators and other vendors. Design an itinerary for a trip you’ve never taken—but will guide. Try new foods. Learn how another culture works. Talk to new people.
Bottom line? You need a passion and desire to get involved in adventure tourism, a blast of common sense, and a great program to set you on the right path. Curious? Keep reading.
3. Big Responsibilities
With great adventure comes great responsibility. Not only do you get to meet new people, design exciting trips, sample different cuisines, and guide folks on an adventure they’ll never forget; you’ll also learn and practice high quality control. For any technical adventure, like rock climbing or rafting, you’ll have to earn the appropriate certifications. You’ll meet national and state training requirements through coursework. You’ll work to achieve the ISO Safety Standards for Adventure Travel. In short—you’ll aim for the gold standard in guiding and hospitality.
How? You’ll find the right program to give you the credentials that you need. Keep reading.
You’ll learn to overcome them in this field—and in your course of study. Put your assumptions aside. Know that when you’re an adventure guide you’re creating an experience for others—not yourself.
You’ll probably do a bulk of the grunt work, like the cooking and cleaning. You’ll do all the trip planning and gear maintenance. You’ll answer questions. You’ll stay out of your participants’ way. You’ll lead. You’ll intervene. You’ll keep personal opinions to yourself. It’s always easier said than done—and always worth doing.
Want to participate in a fast-growing, never-boring, push-yourself-to-the-limit degree? We have a few ideas to get you started:
- Iceland’s Keilir Academy offers world-class training for aspiring adventure guides. Their Adventure Guide program offers an international eight-month university program in Iceland for any adventure sport from white water kayaking to surfing. Yes! There’s surfing in Iceland!
- Pennsylvania’s Northampton Community College has a new adventure tourism degree for students to earn a 30-credit specialize diploma or an associate’s degree through the school’s hospitality program. They partner with local adventure companies to give students the skills and confidence they need to become adventure guides.
- Train to be an adventure guide and earn one of at least thirty-five industry certifications with an Adventure Guide Diploma from Thompson Rivers University.
- Adventure tourism is about more than adrenaline and excitement. It takes logistical skills and the ability to instruct others. Hone these skills with a Bachelor in Outdoor Adventure Leadership at Montana State University Billings.
- If you love the cold and winter sports, consider a Bachelor in Arctic Adventure Tourism at the Arctic University of Norway.
- Maximize the potential of your existing qualifications with distance learning in Adventure Sports at Liberty University Online.
- New Zealand is known for its outdoor culture and adventure potential. Earn your Diploma in Adventure Tourism at ToiOhomai Institute of Technology on the North Island.
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