South African Adventure Survey

South African Adventure Industry Survey - Johan Radcliffe | 2015

Forward by Johan Radcliffe

How and why did this survey come about?  As any normal business owner would do at some stage you start looking for further research on your industry to obtain a better picture of where you stand and what your competitors are doing or just generally to expand your knowledge.  My quest for further knowledge come about the first time I was asked to do a presentation on adventure tourism in South Africa.  Of course your first stop is Google, as they call it these days; Desk top research.

After a few hours of trying all the different search engines’ and possible terms no data come up for Adventure Travel or adventure activities in South Africa.  Internationally the ATTA (Adventure travel trade Association) have compiled some great reports on adventure tourism.  These however ever included South Africa and were also based more multi day trips.

What I have been looking for is data on adventure activities in South Africa.  This is what my company Dirty Boots specializes in, guided adventure activities that are available to tourists and the general public on a once off basis.

So after 10 years in the adventure industry, with no reports that I know of coming from the powers that be I decided to do my own survey.  So after hundreds of hours on the phone, this is the result of that survey.

An interesting fact about adventure industry surveys is that 88% of adventure companies have never been surveyed before and about none have been surveyed with 100% emphasis on the adventure industry.

Please keep in mind that I have no previous experience in this field or any formal education regarding the collection of data and the analysing of it.  I have however done my utmost to make this report as accurate as possible. 

Adventure Survey 2015

Adventure Tourism in South Africa
Before we continue lets define Adventure Travel.  The word Adventure has been thrown around a lot in the last decade in the South African Travel Industry and been used extensively in most companies marketing campaigns.  Basically it looks like any trip to Southern Africa is an adventure holiday. 

Dirty Boots defines adventure travel as any multiday tour or day trip that is offered for remuneration and includes a physical activity and a small element of risk. 

Internationally the definition for adventure travel is a trip that includes a physical activity and interaction with nature and a cultural experience, using this description 26% of all tourists are adventure travellers and certainly most of the tourists coming to South Africa.  However in South Africa we still separate cultural tours and safaris and do not incorporate these under the banner of adventure travel. 

Only activities such as walking safaris, Hot Air ballooning, Shark Cage Diving, Fishing, Paragliding, Horse Riding and another 90 or so activities fall under the banner of Adventure tourism.  We are currently adding on one or two new adventure activities every year to the list. 

This survey did not cover tourist that travel to South Africa to compete in adventure sports or simply arrange their own adventures without the support of an operator or guide.

You will realise from this survey that the South African adventure industry, is no longer a small backyard business, we might not have the same size and revenue as the mining or agricultural industries but we do generate enough revenue and job opportunities.

Number of people parting in adventure activities in 2014

After spending many hours on the phone with all the owners and managers of the adventure operators I surveyed and staring at statistics from the survey, I can with confidence say that the adventure industry in South Africa is healthy and growing.  By growing I not only mean in size but stature as well.

To date the industry has mostly regulated itself with promising results, Dirty Boots will support and encourage any further self-regulation as this encourages growth in the adventure sector.

On the marketing front the adventure industry is aggressively marketing itself to the domestic market but very little money is spent on increasing the international incoming market, we certainly could give this sector a little more attention. 

The area that needs most attention is the creation of live online reservation systems and Risk management.  Remember that all adventures involve a certain risk factor lets not be scared by the risk but manage it properly.

All said and done the South African adventure industry is professional and an asset to the country as a whole.

South African Adventure Survey