For most people, the word tourism brings up the image of big buses and resorts. There is a market and place for mass tourism like this but that’s not what we do. Our focus is on small groups and activities that allow enough time for meaningful connections to be made. That’s partly why our adventures appeal to locals and visitors alike.
Tourism is a broad concept, an industry of industry. There are technical definitions that define tourism based on being away for leisure for at least 24 hours or visiting places at least 40 km away from home. For our purpose, we think of tourism as simply being outside of our usual environment, an escape from the day-to-day. That includes guests who have travelled from far away and those exploring near where they live.
What we do is often described as experiential tourism: a collection of memorable activities that create connections with place and people. This is a broad definition that includes many types of activities. We prefer to use something more specific to describe what we do: adventure tourism.
The Adventure Travel Trade Association defines adventure tourism as a type of experiential travel that includes at least two of the following three elements: physical activity, natural environment, and cultural immersion. It often involves some physical or mental exertion and a willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone.
We like to think of adventure tourism as the moments that happen when we combine outdoor recreation and the local culture with the beauty of our natural landscape. We refer to those experiences that take our guests out of their ordinary world, making them feel present and in awe as goosebumps moments.
The way we see it, adventures are not necessarily about reaching summits or overcoming extreme conditions. Adventures are about doing things that are new and different for each of us, doing things that can be a little scary but that also makes us curious to explore further.
We find that the unique qualities of a destination are most easily found through the local arts and culture. That’s why we see the local food, traditions, music and arts as an integral part of every adventure.
What About Ecotourism, Outdoor Recreation and Interpretation?
We have a lot in common with other types of tourism and recreation. What differentiates each context is the type of moments they aim to create for their guests, visitors or participants. For example:
- Outdoor Recreation: The focus is on the activities with the goal of learning new skills or challenging the participants.
- Outdoor Education: The focus is on changing the way people think in, for, or about the outdoors.
- Adventure Therapy: The focus is on using the outdoors to change the way people behave.
- Interpretation: The focus is on enhancing the participants’ appreciation for the cultural and natural heritage.
- Ecotourism: The focus is on visiting pristine, fragile and relatively undisturbed natural environments.
- Expedition Travel: The focus is on visiting distant and often overlooked destinations with the goal of pushing the participants’ limits.
- Mass Tourism: The focus is on standardized products and packages that appeal to most people.
Depending on your background, you may find it challenging at first to shift the way you think about experiences. Keep in mind our focus is on goosebumps moments: those experiences that leave our guests feeling in awe.