Saturday, June 15, 2024
HomesingaporeIN FOCUS: Attracted to danger - why some people go on risky...

IN FOCUS: Attracted to danger – why some people go on risky vacations

SINGAPORE: Falling into loose rocks, sustaining minor cuts and bruises, and getting lost. This was the experience of climbing an unnamed peak in the Indian state of Manali for 24-year-old Paul Chow and his friend.

While the terrain looked manageable at first, the quality of the rocks became poor and increasingly loose as the pair climbed higher and higher. 

“We knew that the terrain was kind of getting out of hand. So, we realised that okay, this is not comfortably within our skill level and we decided that it would be best if we turn around,” said Mr Chow, a final-year accounting student at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

However, upon turning around, Mr Chow and his friend found themselves lost, having strayed off from their initial ascent path. “We were a little bit worried because we were all by ourselves and there weren’t other climbers around,” he said. 

Recounting the incident, Mr Chow said he and his friend used terrain landmarks to ensure they stayed on track and were heading in the right direction – knowledge they picked up as members of the NUS mountaineering club. 

They also had access to compasses and a topographical map of the area, which helped with their navigation.

Some customers who go for the Everest base camp trek do so more for their own personal achievements, rather than it being their dream trek, while treks in the Kashmir regions are more for exploring untouched areas, said Mr Vijay.

He added that the travel platform had about 980 clients last year, of which 90 per cent signed up for overseas trekking trips. 

The growing trend of people seeking adventure travel experiences reflects a greater interest in exploring unique destinations and engaging in thrilling activities, said co-founder of X-Trekkers Adventure Consultant, Lik Wong.

Adventure tours offer customers a break from routine, a chance to challenge oneself as well as an opportunity to connect with nature, said Mr Wong. 

“Adventurers often seek personal growth, a sense of accomplishment, and unforgettable memories that come from pushing their boundaries in inspiring settings,” he added. 


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The recent increase in customers opting for adventure travel can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to some tourism experts. 

The pandemic had kept many people confined in their homes for too long –  a term coined as cabin fever, said Associate Professor Lau Kong Cheen from the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS).

“It made them miss the sense of freedom that most of us want. It triggers our innate desire to explore and discover all over again,” noted Assoc Prof Lau, who is part of the university’s marketing programme. 

He added that the ability to go for an adventure-themed travel experience gives people a sense of “breaking free from a sedentary life in a more extreme manner”.

Dr Michael Chiam, senior tourism lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, also pointed out that many people began exploring different sports during the pandemic, when lockdown and travel restrictions were in place.

Some of them developed a deeper interest in these sports and they want to stretch themselves, and challenge themselves further by participating in adventure trips, Dr Chiam added.

The current increase in demand for adventure tours is also part of the overall increase in tourism demand, coming off the pandemic-reduced travel in 2020 and 2021, noted Mr Benjamin Cassim of Temasek Polytechnic. 

Some of the main drivers behind the renewed interest in adventure tourism include a growing appreciation to explore new areas and search for new travel experiences, the increase in demand for authentic and personalised travel experiences, as well the higher income levels, especially of couples who make up 40 per cent of the market, said Mr Cassim, who teaches hospitality and tourism management.

How then can the tourism industry keep up with this rising demand? For one, travel agencies will need to hire and train staff who can lead adventure tours, said SUSS’ Assoc Prof Lau.

Those hired should not only be more physically fit, but they should also be aware of risks and ensure the safety of the tourists that they are accompanying, said Assoc Prof Lau. 

He added that travel agencies should be “very familiar” with safety measures to avoid injuries that will be “bad for their reputation”. 

Mr Cassim also pointed to statistics that indicate that more than 60 per cent of the revenue share from adventure tourism came from direct bookings in 2021.

“This means an increasing number of adventure tourists are booking their tours and activities through direct channels. This is directly related to the desire for personalised experiences and convenience,” the senior lecturer said.

Travel agencies will therefore need to respond to the growing demand by providing efficient bookings and confirmation for flights and hotels, said Mr Cassim.

He added that one of the major changes in consumer behaviour that has taken place over the past three to five years, especially heightened as a result of the pandemic, is the expectation of having personalised experiences in almost every area of consumption such retail, dining, leisure, music, travel and hospitality.

“This expectation is no different when it comes to adventure tourism as well,” said Mr Cassim, adding that those who consume adventure tourism products and services demand personalised service and experiences.

“It is not enough just to offer an adventure tourism product. The travel agents or travel consultants need to be more attuned to what their customers want and be able to curate the end-to-end adventure tourism experience for the individual customer,” Mr Cassim added. 

The activity forms “just a part of the overall travel experience” and personalisation of these experiences are now “part of the forefront of travel”, he highlighted. 


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Tourism experts CNA spoke to also highlighted the importance of travel insurance for adventurous activities. 

Assoc Prof Lau from SUSS pointed out that travel agencies should be knowledgeable about appropriate insurance coverage that their clients would need prior to engaging in any extreme adventure travel. 

At present, there are some insurance companies that offer coverage for adventurous activities under their travel insurance packages, said Assoc Prof Lau, who cited the example of DirectAsia Insurance. 

DirectAsia Insurance offers additional coverage for extreme sports and activities as an optional benefit that is only available in its annual policy.

Those who have opted and paid for the additional coverage will be covered up to the limits listed under the travel insurance plan for activities such as winter sports, water sports, aerial sports and land sports. 

Under this policy, the maximum altitude for any extreme sport or activity that will be covered is 4,000m. Any incidents or injuries sustained above this maximum altitude will not be covered, according to DirectAsia Insurance. 

For FWD Singapore, the overarching approach is to provide coverage for an extensive list of leisure activities while also supporting customers on some common activities that are perceived as riskier, said chief executive officer Adrian Vincent. 

“For more dangerous activities, such as skydiving that is operated under licensed companies, one consideration would be on the risk mitigation factor where we look at if the activity has been operated with the necessary safety precautions,” Mr Vincent said.

FWD travel insurance covers common leisure activities undertaken by travellers and offered by license operators and “only certain extreme sports”, he noted. 

This includes paragliding, scuba diving, mountain climbing, rock climbing, skydiving, snowboarding and more, as long as the person insured stays within certain conditions.

Some of these conditions are that the person insured is not training as a professional, and that if he or she is hiking or trekking, it cannot be higher than 3,000m below sea level. As such, the company does not cover a traveller embarking on a climbing expedition for Mount Everest, said Mr Vincent. 

The FWD CEO also said that the number of claims being made for extreme sports coverage are “still relatively small” compared to claims being made for other coverage included in the travel insurance. 

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