Two Tickets To Paradise

Start your own adventure/specialty travel agency.

Do you daydream at your day job about swimming with the dolphins on your next vacation in Hawaii? Does your pulse quicken when you imagine yourself coming across a lost tribe in the Brazilian jungle? Do you find yourself drooling as you fantasize about touring chocolate factories in Switzerland? Would you love to spend all your time visiting art museums?

If we've almost lost your attention because your mind is off thinking about any one of these or a thousand other variations, then you might want to consider starting an adventure or specialty travel company.

The market is ripe for energetic entrepreneurs. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, between 1993 and 1997, half of all American adults did something adventurous, from the 64.7 million who camped out to the 3.9 million who hang glided. And almost one-third of those who hadn't done anything said they were looking to add adrenaline to a future trip.

According to Jerry Mallett, president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, Americans are spending $220 billion on these activities each year (compared with over $500 billion for the general leisure U.S. travel market and $3.5 trillion worldwide). After climbing to the double digits, annual growth of the adventure travel industry is currently 8 percent.

For one thing, baby boomers will enter their peak spending years over the next decade and are eager to pay for something other than the same boring getaways. That might mean shelling out a few hundred for a bike tour of wineries or $75,000 to climb Mt. Everest. But adventure travel companies say the hot demand is for vigorous activities combined with upscale accommodations and meals, which means higher prices.

And then there's the softer and more diverse vacation choices listed in the semiannual Specialty Travel Index (, such as a week in Mexico learning Spanish or a trip to Paris to take gourmet cooking classes. Whatever the interest or age, there's something for everyone.

Scott S. Smith writes for Business Start-Ups when he isn't traveling adventurously in places like Northern Ireland and Cuba.

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This article was originally published in the May 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Two Tickets To Paradise.

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