For much of the twentieth century, remote and environmentally challenging locations catered to only small numbers of dedicated participants in their pursuit of high-risk activities and adventures. Over recent decades, social change has encouraged tourists to more often seek novel and stimulating experiences (Gartner & Lime, 2000).
In step with this change, attention by the visual media has encouraged a growing interest in nature-based and adventurous activities. Indeed, a growing public fascination with risky activities helps to create unmet desires among the general tourism markets, reflected in the popularity of adventure-related fashions and short films (Buckley, 2003).
Technical advances help realize the demand for adventure tourism experiences. Through the development of transport options, such as all-terrain vehicles and helicopters, tourists can enter hitherto inaccessible locations with relatively little effort (Parker, 2001). Advances in equipment and clothing have complemented improved access to natural locations. Equipment in many activities is now easier to use and more portable than was previously the case, making self-organized adventures more readily available.
Snowboarders, surfers, windsurfers, scuba divers, for example, may travel with their own personal equipment. These developments have made outdoor adventure activities cheaper, safer, and more reliable for both self-organized tourists and organized commercial-based adventures. In the latter case, outdoor adventure operators may offer a range of product options including equipment hire for experienced clients. Mass tourist access to new locations and the emergence of commercial outdoor adventure activities have changed the profile and image of many locations.
Examples include surf tourism at previously remote destinations such as in the Indo-Pacific region, camping trips to Antarctica, or maximum packaged adventure available in Queenstown, New Zealand (Buckley, 2002; Stonehouse, 2001; Berno, Moore, Simmons, & Hart, 1996). Akin to safety management, environmental management remains an important responsibility for the outdoor adventure tourism industry