A lack of knowledge of the adventure travel sector is holding agents back from taking advantage of a £180 million market.
TUI Travel adventure managing director Colin Stump said specialist tour operators account for about half the adventure market, carrying about 200,000 passengers a year.
But he said a lack of training meant agents were not capitalising on a growing area. Stump was speaking at the launch of TUI Travel’s Passport to Adventure Industry Trend Report 2010.
The report included the findings from a YouGov survey of 2,000 consumers, which predicted a 70% increase in participation in adventure travel over the next three years.
“The general public who go and use a travel agent are seeing more of this product on offer and getting the agents trained is probably the biggest challenge to the industry,” he said.
“The consumers are already taking a risk as they’re not going to the Caribbean, Florida or Spain, which they know so they need a lot more reassurance. We’ve got to work hard with online training programmes for agents to make sure the skills are in place.”
Stump said the sector remains a profitable one, with average passenger spend growing by 21% to £1,198 since 2006. It also has high customer satisfaction, with 80% of consumers taking an adventure break citing it as memorable, as opposed to 54% for all holiday types.
Stump predicted that adventure travel would recover from the global recession quicker than mainstream travel due to a more resilient and dedicated client base.
He also said operators would be the key beneficiaries of the growing market due to the financial protection, destination expertise and specialist guides they offer.
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