The first Adventure Travel Mexico (ATMEX) trade show was held from September 5 to 9, 2012 at the World Trade Center in Boca del Rio, Veracruz. In the days prior to the trade fair I attended a fam trip along with some travel industry professionals and other writers. The event as a whole was a rousing success, and the experience was very enlightening for me personally as well. Here are a few things I learned:
- Adventure travel is on the rise.
Mexican Secretary of Tourism Gloria Guevara Manzo spoke at the inauguration of ATMEX in Catemaco, Veracruz, and she spoke about how important the adventure travel segment is to Mexico's travel industry. She mentioned that the average stay in Mexico is 5 days, but for adventure travelers the average stay is 8 days. They tend to interact more with the country, culture and people. Shannon Stowell, President of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, also spoke about the growth of adventure travel, and how it benefits local communities. He explained that when travelers stay in an all-inclusive resort, only about 10% of the revenues from their stay goes to the local community, whereas for adventure travelers, the figure is 65%, and while general travel is experiencing a growth of 4%, adventure tourism is growing at 16%. Clearly, more and more people are looking for adventure on their vacations, and that is great news for the communities that host them.
- Adventure travel is not just about thrills.
We tend to associate adventure travel with activities that bring an adrenaline rush. In fact, the term is much more expansive, and covers a wide range of experiences. Shannon Stowell talked about what constitutes adventure travel. The three elements that he mentioned as being essential to an adventure travel experience are physical activity, interaction with nature, and contact with the local culture. Although I've never really considered myself an adventure traveler, most of my travels fit that description.
- Adventure travelers have more fun.
Whether pushing their limits physically, interacting with nature, telling funny stories on the bus, or partying until the early hours of the morning, the fellow travelers I met at ATMEX live life to the fullest. I can't remember ever traveling with a group of adults who were more enthusiastic, fun-loving and yes, adventurous. I came away with a strong impression that adventure travelers approach life with an open attitude, a kindhearted spirit, and an eye for finding the fun in every situation.
- I can do more than I thought I could.
For three days before the ATMEX travel fair began, I joined in a fam trip run by Mexico Verde Expeditions which included mountain biking, zip-lining and white water rafting. Since I had never taken part in any of these adventure experiences before, I had some trepidation before the trip. I was worried about whether my fitness level would be sufficient, and about the dangers involved (I don't worry about drug violence when I travel in Mexico, but I do worry about falling off the zip-line or crashing my mountain bike, or being carried away by the rapids). As it turned out, my worries were unfounded. The Mexico Verde staff took great care of us the whole time, with utmost attention to safety, and the rest of our group was very supportive, helpful and encouraging. All of it was fun, exhilarating, and empowering. Read more about my experience with Mexico Verde.
- Mexico is full of undiscovered treasures.
I already knew this, but it's only reinforced with each trip I take. Every time I travel in this country I'm impressed and awed by Mexico's glorious natural beauty, impressive architecture, rich cultural traditions, and the warm hospitality of the Mexican people. On this trip I had the opportunity to explore Veracruz state a bit more, a state that I had visited previously, but feel I have only just begun to appreciate the many wonders it holds within its 700 km length. It always gives me great pleasure to see others discovering Mexico's wonders for themselves, as many of those on the fam trip with me did, and to know that they will go home and share that experience with their friends, family and clients so that more people will come to realize all that Mexico has to offer.
Ready to plan an adventure trip to Mexico? Start here: Mexico Travel Planner