Created in 2008 as a joint initiative between the Adventure Travel Trade Association, the George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies, and Xola Consulting Inc, the Adventure Development Tourism Index (ADTI) examines 192 countries and ranks them based on their commitment to sustainable adventure tourism and other factors which influence their ability to host an adventure travel market.

Using the “10 Pillars of Adventure Tourism Market Competitiveness” to determine its rankings, the ADTI is a combination of quantifiable data from each of the countries and surveys gathered from top adventure travel specialists from around the world.

The index ranks countries in two categories – developed and developing. Botswana came in at number nine on the developing list which, according to the ADTI, is due to its “natural resources and good reputation”. Other than Botswana, Chile and Israel, the other countries making up the top ten were all from Europe.

The 10 Pillars of Adventure Tourism Market Competitiveness are as follows:

1. Sustainable development policy

Government policies must support sustainable and rural tourism in order to safeguard the country’s natural, heritage and cultural resources. Countries with a high environmental performance and low unemployment ranked high.

2. Safety and security

Countries must meet internationally accepted standards of safety. A country ranked well if it had a high level of transparency and low or no travel warnings.

3. Tourism infrastructure

Tourism infrastructure

Adventure tourism infrastructure includes hard infrastructure like roads and airports and soft structure like trail maps and accessible information on heritage and culture. Data was taken from surveys of adventure and development industry experts.

4. Natural resources

Adventure travellers want to travel in countries that have well-managed natural resources.

5. Cultural resources

Adventure travellers are interested in learning about new cultures as they explore nature. Countries with a high number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and protected areas indicated a high number of cultural resources.

6. Adventure activity resources

Countries must protect their species and forests, grasslands and drylands.

7. Entrepreneurship

Adventure travel’s vitality and strength originates from pioneering businesses with unusual offerings that appeal to a small subset of niche enthusiasts. The Index of Economic Freedom was used to indicate evidence of entrepreneurship in a country.

8. Humanitarian

Humanitarian

Focusing on a country’s human development, this pillar looks at the Happy Planet Index (which measures factors such as life expectancy, life expectation and ecological footprint), NGO Density and NGO Presence. Higher ranking countries had a presence of basic services, e.g. sanitation, and a potential for blended adventure and volunteering trips.

9. Health

Countries with a high number of hospital beds and physicians per 1 000 people ranked high.

10. Image

A country’s image can be one of the most flexible aspects of market competitiveness. Adventure and development industry experts rated each country on elements measuring the extent to which the country has the perception of an adventure destination.