South Africa, like so many destinations or countries with outdoor and adventure capacity, is experiencing and anticipating a surge in outdoor activity. Never before has the world realize the value of outdoor endeavours like now! People were always aware of the value of outdoor endeavours, but since people were prohibited to set foot out of their homes, a new awareness came about. Families that never participated in outdoor activities whether it be walking the dog in a park, riding a bicycle on a track, having a picnic with the family or going for more extreme adventures, the realization is that we need it!
One of the primary motivators currently is escaping, escape from a world that is dictating a new approach to quality of life, a new definition of socialization and engagement with yourself and others. People are escaping to the outdoors because of differing levels of trauma experienced during the last two COVID years. The question is if the Outdoor and Adventure Industry can appropriately accommodate the numbers that are coming their way. The answer from the majority of operators would most probably be: Yes. The outdoor, adventure and related industries have suffered immensely at the hands of COVID, they are ready to serve the market
Research done by the Adventure Institute proves that there are enough providers of diverse experiences in the outdoor and adventure industry, that South Africa has a rich mix of operators in various segments, but…… that the majority of service providers are not adequately equipped to serve the “new clients” in a holistic way. For quite some time the industry relied heavily on a strong technical quality and safety capacity. This is not wrong as this is definitely of crucial importance, these are the skills that ensure people does not die. It is unfortunately not nearly enough to ensure a quality physical, emotional and cognitive stimulation and safe experience.
The incorporation of new skill sets, and new knowledge areas are crucial for successful benchmark experience-facilitating enterprises. The outdoor and adventure experience facilitating industry (recreation, education, development, therapy) cannot expect to be successful and appropriately serve clients without; accredited technical skills, adequate medical capacity for challenging situations in remote areas, the ability to save a life in water, trauma identification skills, therapeutic intervention skills, learning transfer abilities, environmental custodianship and education skills, sound management and entrepreneurial skills with the capacity to effectively position businesses in an era of online digital marketing.
The hope is that South African Outdoor and Adventure enterprises (Recreation, Tourism, Education, Development, etc.) that operate in this industry are proactive, realize they need to upskill, and do something about it before the clients demand a service that they are not equipped to deliver.