The Future. Affluent travelers are increasingly skipping the usual vacation destinations for adventures that put them to the lowest depths of the ocean or the highest reaches of space. It’s the experience economy taken to the extreme. While many of these trips are safer than ever, the tragic implosion of the Titan sub that has rocked the public imagination may be a reminder that they still come with considerable risk.
Spaceships, submarines, and summits
Some adventurous travelers are pushing their bucket lists to the limit.
- Space travel is now within reach thanks to SpaceX, Blue Origin, and the newest entrant, Virgin Galactic — suborbital trips range from $250,000 to $500,000.
- Deep Sea trips — like OceanGate Expeditions’ ill-fated mission to the Titanic — can cost up to $250,000.
- A journey to the South Pole runs travelers a modest $100,000.
- And a jaunt to the top of Everest is so popular that there are literal lines to the summit… and that was before Nepal issued a record number of climbing permits last season.
What’s driving people to put life and limb on the line for the ultimate experience? Axios says it’s a mixture of technological advancement, a post-COVID sense of “do the crazy thing while you still can,” and maybe some of the intangibles that drove adventurers of centuries past.
Whatever the reason, the global adventure tourism industry is expected to launch from $322 billion in 2022 to over $1 trillion this year. James Petrick, a professor at Texas A&M who studies tourism and recreation, says, “There are very few places on the planet that people have never been, and the demand for a unique trip increases its price and value.”