Welcome to the third annual Intrepid Travel Index, an opportunity for us to share the latest trends and insights in the adventure travel industry amid travel's rebound from a two-year hiatus.
As the world’s largest adventure travel company with more than 30 years behind us, we aim to share insights into the travel sector by combining our own travel figures and industry knowledge with externally commissioned research. With this report, we’re excited to provide a snapshot of all things travel – including preferences, challenges, behaviours and motivators when it comes to choosing a holiday.
The Intrepid Travel Index 2022
The index contains a wealth of current information and research examining topics such as travel in a post-COVID world, top destinations for Australian travellers, the importance of sustainable travel to consumers, trends in the travel market and the transformative power of travel.
Adventure travel is a growing sector within the tourism industry, stay ahead of the trends and read the Intrepid 2022 Travel Index.
2022 Index highlights
Top 10 destinations for Australian travellers
For the first time in the Index’s history, Australia has taken out the number one ranking, jumping up five spots since 2019. With 63% of Australians planning to travel domestically in the next 12 months, this trend looks set to continue.
Climbing one spot to second place, camel rides through the Sahara, the Atlas Mountains and the energy of Marrakech are just some of the highlights contributing to Morocco’s popularity.
Slipping back three places, Vietnam still ranks highly for its diverse adventures in a country filled with incredible food, welcoming locals, stunning scenery and cosmopolitan cities.
Egypt has climbed nine spots to fourth place, reflecting its growing popularity as a ‘bucket list’ destination for travellers who have been waiting to tick it off their travel list.
Dropping from number two to number five, Peru is still holding steady in the top 10 thanks to timeless bucket list classics like Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca.
After missing out on a top 20 spot in 2019, Jordan looks like it’s here to stay with travellers dreaming of its desert lands, ancient ruins and incredible culture.
Streaking into seventh place after previously being a no-show in the top 20, the Mediterranean energy and Middle Eastern hospitality of Turkey is proving to be a major hit with travellers.
Costa Rica also stormed into the top 10 out of nowhere in 2022 as this compact playground of jungle canopies and cloud forests has proven itself to be just too captivating to resist.
Food, wine, history, architecture, fashion, coffee – there’s nothing this European favourite can’t do. Travellers have been seduced by a slice of La Dolce Vita this year, moving Italy up five spots.
Travelling in a post-COVID world
In March 2020, global travel and tourism came to a grinding halt. And while travel is back, there’s no denying the impact the pandemic has had on travellers. There is huge pent-up demand for seeing the world following the extended time we have all spent at home.
In 2022, Australians have been spending more time travelling locally and we’ve seen a surge of demand for domestic trips across all our markets.
Looking ahead to 2023, 4 in 5 Aussies are planning on travelling, with 63% looking to travel domestically and 37% planning to head overseas.
Sustainable travel a key priority for Australian travellers
Sustainability and responsibility are no longer nice-to-haves, they’re non-negotiables for travellers. A massive 89% of respondents said they were likely to choose sustainable travel options for their next trip and want to know their holidays aren't just good for them but good for local communities and the planet, too.
However, our research shows that operators still have work to do when it comes to communicating sustainability messages to customers, with almost half of respondents identifying three primary barriers to travelling sustainably.
Intrepid has been carbon neutral since 2010 and certified Climate Active since 2018. The company is also B Corp certified, which is a designation that measures social and environmental impact across an entire business. However, we are continuing to investigate additional opportunities to reduce the carbon output of trips, and increase the number of purpose-led experiences within tours that allow travellers to tangibly contribute to the places they visit.
Connecting to culture and First Nations tourism
Australia is home to the oldest living cultures on earth, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tourism experiences offer travellers a new way to immerse themselves in the rich stories and experiences that are unique to this land. More than one third of Australians said they are interested in First Nations experiences while travelling, with 2 in 5 (19%) saying they had taken part in a First Nations experience, and 14% actively taking the time to research the First Nations land they will be travelling to. The importance of First Nations tourism is growing with the following experiences being of most interest to travellers.
Five travel trends for the year ahead
1. Taking the road less travelled
I expect the concept of undertourism will become as widely known as overtourism as more responsible travellers opt to spend their dollars wisely in economies where their holiday can have a positive benefit. My top pick for off-the-beaten-track adventures in 2023 is Bosnia & Herzegovina where we’ve just launched a new expedition in partnership with USAID.
2. Exploring closer to home
While Australians will still travel internationally, I think we’ll see them taking fewer, longer trips and they will incorporate more local, experience-rich travel into their plans, with a focus on First Nations experiences. Our Uluru & Kings Canyon Adventure has been our top selling domestic trip in 2022 and I think we’ll see this trend continue well into 2023.
3. The future is plant-based
As awareness around responsible travel continues to grow, I think we'll see more and more plant-based itineraries popping up over the next 12 months. We've already seen a growth in demand for plant-based inclusions on our trips, with each of our Real Food Adventures featuring at least one plant-based meal that showcases local fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
4. Getting into the great outdoors
There’s already a growing trend towards nature-based tourism, but I think we’ll see this really take off in the next 12 months. We’re seeing a big increase in demand for active adventures, which incorporate walking, trekking, cycling and even snow activities like those on our new Active Winter Range in NZ. Travellers want to connect with nature in a low-impact way.
5. Travel with impact
Now more than ever, people are looking at ways to change with the world through travel. Whether that’s supporting BIPOC owned businesses on our Gullah Geechee trip in the US, or being a Citizen Scientist on one of our Antarctic expeditions, I think we’ll see tourism become more participatory with travellers having a positive impact on communities and places.