Playing with risk? participant perceptions of risk and management implications in adventure tourism

Carl I. Cater

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278 Citations (SciVal)


Adventure tourism is a rapidly expanding tourism market segment. It is suggested that adventure travel and its related expenditure contribute $220 billion annually to the US economy alone ( However, recent high-profile tragedies in adventure tourism might suggest that participation does not come without its risks. Existing literature would suggest that the pursuit of these risks is a central attraction of these activities. However, drawing on research conducted in the self-styled ‘Adventure Capital of the World’, Queenstown in New Zealand, the author suggests that this is a simplistic view of adventurous motivation. The research shows that rather than demanding actual risks, participants engaging in commercial adventurous activity primarily seek fear and thrills. The most successful adventure tourism operators are those that have reduced their actual risk levels whilst effectively commodifying the thrills within. Thus the responsibility of the commercial operator to minimise the opportunity for loss to as low a level as possible is not only an ethical one, but also ensures long-term business sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-325
Number of pages9
JournalTourism Management
Issue number2
Early online date13 Mar 2005
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2006


  • risk
  • adventure tourism
  • Queenstown
  • New Zealand
  • embodiment


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