– Niharika Nigam –
Many Indians recognize the benefits of adventures sports and of regularly participating in such sports. While in the past the opportunity to indulge in adventure sports was limited and there was little awareness of adventure sports, both young and older people discovered a few decades ago that participating in adventure sports is a great way for them to stay fit, not just physically but mentally as well; and quench their thrill-seeking spirit. Many in India also recognize that participating in adventure sports as a group builds trust among members and leads to more productive teams in the workplace. Sharing an overwhelming experience as such binds people into groups, and has been known to add an impetus to workplace satisfaction and productivity.
Popular Adventure Sports in India in 2018
The Ministry of Tourism declared 2018 as the year of Adventure Tourism in the early part of this year. A number of adventure sports including white water rafting, bungee jumping, flying fox, trekking, paragliding, parasailing, and scuba diving, skiing, mountain biking, proved popular among Indians this year.
Adventure Sports Trends in 2018, in 2019, and the Years Ahead
Based on the results of a study, it is estimated that those who participate in adventure sports will grow at a CAGR of 17% until 2023. Just over the past 3 years, the demand for adventure sports and for experiences of local communities has grown by 178%. There has also been an increase of 42% in adventure tourism to places of high altitude in India.
It was also found that nearly 40% of participants in adventure sports do so in the company of friends or in a large group while 18% do so with their family. Nearly 28% of those who take part in adventure sports do so with their spouse which an interesting statistic of solo travel emerging strong at approximately 15%.
The study also revealed that the majority (nearly 40%) of those who participated in adventure sports were between the ages of 20-35 while approximately 30% were below the age of 20. There was a 10% share of people over the age of 50 who undertook adventure activities, such as trekking and rafting.
Rishikesh has been crowned as the adventure capital of India, boasting of the most popular rapids for rafting, as well as India’s highest Bungy Jumping platform. Goa was the next preference for adventure sports with Kerala coming in a close 3rd. The study also revealed that trekking and sea and water sports are the most popular adventure sport but this could also be because they are an older industry in India. They will likely remain so in 2019 as well, but the advent of commercial extreme sporting companies for extreme adventure may enter this league soon, with Bungy and sky diving becoming popular choices. Many more Indians are expected to take part in adventure sports in 2019.
A Detailed Look at Specific Sports
Among adventure sports enthusiasts in India this year, nearly 25% choose to go trekking. The number of people who have wanted to go trekking has grown over the last few years and will likely continue to grow in the future. A simple reason for this is that trekking requires little equipment and India has beautiful scenic locations and abundant trekking trails with a diverse geography spread across the topography of India. Indians also favour sea and water sports, which is not surprising given the countries huge coastline where tourists are given the opportunity to partake in such activities. Some such popular sea and water sports include jet skiing, water skiing, windsurfing, and parasailing. Andamans and Nicobar islands have earned high repute globally for their scuba diving operations, and are acclaimed worldwide. Approximately 24% of those who participated in adventure sports last year took part in such activities and it is expected that more Indians will participate in such sports in the coming year as well.
By itself, rafting has proven to be a very popular adventure sport among Indians and nearly 14% of those who took part in adventure sports this year choose to go rafting. Once again a simple reason for this is the large number of rapids in India which make rafting ideal in a number of locations. Also because rafting is a team activity many Indians enjoy doing it because it allows them to spend time with friends in a novel way. Many organizations also encourage rafting because it is a great team building activity that is also thrilling. Rafting in Rishikesh has enticed foreign inbound tourists since decades and is one of the most popular with Indians as well. Bungy Jumping in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand has achieved a feat by crossing over 70,000 jumps in the last 8 years since inception- quite a landmark by global standards for any country within this short a period.
Camping is another activity that has captured the fancy of Indians. While camping has not been a part of Indian culture as it has been in some western countries, Indians have eagerly adopted it. Nearly 10% of those who took part in adventure sports in 2018 went camping and it is expected that this percentage will remain fixed however more people will go camping in the future. A simple reason for this is that the demand for vacations in a rural and outdoor setting is rising in India. Hence many more Indians will go camping in 2019 than did in any year prior.
While adventure sports as a whole received a comparatively late start in India, such sports have acquired legions of fans that enjoy exerting themselves physically. Many who participate in such sports cherish the outdoors and take advantage of the opportunity to forge friendships while participating in a thrilling adventure sport. These are just a few reasons why the popularity of adventure sports will continue to grow next year as well.
Author and Entrepreneur
Niharika Nigam is the Director – Business Development at Jumpin Heights, India’s first Extreme Adventure zone
Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of INVC NEWS.