The adventure tourism industry in the Garden Route may be experiencing a standstill at the moment, but behind the scenes there are active processes underway to define the new realities and plan a new future for the industry, says Alewijn Dippenaar, owner of Adventures Garden Route DMC.

According to Alewijn, the future of adventure tourism in the Garden Route will be determined by the way in which creative attention will be given to the following 10 aspects:

1. The Garden Route has some of the best wildlife and outdoor life in South Africa for which increasing and growing appreciation is developing in these times of restraint. Freedom takes on new meaning and where better to nourish your soul than in nature.

2. The Garden Route will see fewer tour buses in the future but many more smaller groups that can contribute positively to the adventure tourism industry. The adage “birds of a feather flock together” creates opportunities for the industry to attract focused groups to the Garden Route.

3. Unique, exceptional experiences of high quality will attract the adventure tourist to the Garden Route. We have a lot of this but its marketing will need more attention. Greater significance will be given to experiences that emphasise youthfulness.

4. The current realities focus a lot of attention on the protocols that an adventure company must follow, and this includes not only Covid-19 protocols but also safety, qualifications of staff, condition of equipment and others. This process can only work positively to improve the quality of the industry as well as the standard of the offerings.

5. The industry will need to transform in the future to reflect the composition of our society, especially in the management and ownership of adventure tourism products. More is expected than just transforming the staff; ownership is equally important.

6. Marketing to, and raising awareness of, adventure tourism in South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world requires a whole new approach. The Garden Route can do more to establish the area as a preferred destination for adventure products and nature.

7. Collaboration between adventure tourism product holders to put together impressive and exciting packages seems to be the strategy for the future. Currently, each product holder is largely marketed in isolation which will have to change after marketing the Garden Route as a whole.

8. It is assumed that a number of adventure tourism businesses may close in 2020, but the opportunities that the Garden Route owns will not be lost, but will gain new life at the hands of new or existing businesses in the future. We regret the impact of every adventure tourism business that has to close and its impact on our economy, but we must not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

9. National structures such as the South Africa Adventure Industry Association, which was formed in 2020, not only bind the adventure tourism industry together, but create better opportunities for collaboration, networking, better and new products along with support for the growth and development of the industry.

10. For the foreseeable future, the South African tourist as well as the African tourist will have to be seen as the industry’s bread and butter. Special offers are required. Meanwhile, the industry needs to restructure with new strategies to bring the international adventure tourist to the Garden Route.

Together we can take the adventure tourism industry in the Garden Route through these challenging times to reach new heights in the near future, hopefully in the very near future.