October 17, 2012
I just got back from the Adventure Travel World Summit in Lucerne, Switzerland, and as usual, was blown away by the growth in this sector of the tourism market. But, I was really excited by the growth in attendance by bike tour operators. When I went to this conference two years ago in Scotland, it seemed like there were no more than a dozen bike tour outfits; this time, there were more than 40.
We held an unofficial get-together and crammed together in a small room to brainstorm and get to know one another. After 2 and 1/2 hours (and that was after a full day of conference-ing), we agreed to set up a kind of caucus for bike touring within the Adventure Travel Trade Association. It was so stimulating, hob-nobbing with colleagues from Croatia, Southeast Asia, Colombia, Namibia, Venezuela, Germany, Cuba, Montenegro, New Zealand, Brazil, and many more countries. I made sure many of them got Adventure Cyclist magazine!
Also at the conference, I connected with proprietors of walking and trekking companies who are edging into bike tours, to diversify and because they see new revenue streams. In fact, they are finding that bike tours can outperform their walking tours. Some companies, like KE Adventure (based in the UK but with global operations), saw their bike tour sign-ups jump nearly 90%, driven in part by cycling in the Olympics and the fact that a Brit won the Tour de France.
Finally, it was terrific to meet some star travel bloggers who have toured by bike. I had lunch with the very high-energy Marybeth Bond, aka the Gutsy Traveler (pictured with me above), who rode across the U.S. with her daughter a couple of years ago on Adventure Cycling's Western Express and TransAm routes. I also heard Dave Bouskill, one-half of the Canadian couple running ThePlanetD.com travel blog, talk about how he and his wife were inspired to start the blog by their experience on the incredible Tour d'Afrique. They were just two of the many folks who were part of the wave of interest in the active travel component of the adventure tourism market.
Next dispatch, a nirvana for adventure cyclists: Switzerland!
Photos courtesy of Jim Sayer. Top photo: More than 40 bike tour operators from around the world gathered to talk shop at the Adventure Travel Summit in Lucerne, Switzerland. Bottom photo: Jim Sayer and Marybeth Bond, a leading travel columnist and blogger at GutsyTraveler.com