IAC2019 – Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland

For the seventh International Adventure Conference (IAC), academics, practitioners and students congregated in Dumfries, Scotland. The Adventure Tourism Research Association (ATRA) worked together with Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre to host the three-day event. The topic of IAC 2019 was based around the UN Sustainable Development Goals and delegates were encouraged to rethink the outdoor experience with special regard to current issues in nature-based and adventure tourism, outdoor recreation and outdoor learning. The theme was approached from many different and contemporary angles which made for a variety of engaging presentations and, most of all, an inspiring and thought-provoking conference.

As well as the speakers and parallel sessions each day, the conference also offered the chance to engage in activities such as watersports, mountain biking, wild foraging and Laggan activities. The delegates also had the chance to partake in a rally around the activity centre, and which was focused around the 17 SDGs. These workshops continued the theme of the conference on a practical level and allowed delegates to further discuss things learned in the parallel sessions.

For the second time, students from Universities in Spain, Sweden, Scotland and Denmark came together to help out with conference proceedings. This year, we held a specific practitioner day, which saw around 80 businesses and policymakers debate issues such as skills development and engaging and inspiring consumers.

IAC2018 – Segovia, Spain

Our sixth International Adventure Conference, hosting in the fabulous setting of Segovia and environs, drew the expected enthusiastic, friendly group of participants, with people travelling to Spain from 13 countries – from New Zealand to Lapland. The chosen theme of ‘Climates of Change: Rethinking the Outdoor Experience’ was intended to capture the variety and breadth of changing climates – from the economic to the social, from the philosophical to the physical.

Taking a slightly different approach this year, the tone for the conference was set before most people had actually arrived, with students
from Scotland and Spain interacting through the international student committee to help with the organisation of the event, chat about all things adventure, and of course to socialise. This allowed students to not only attend a conference (many for the first time) but also
gave them an excellent opportunity to speak with almost every delegate as they ferried them from bus stop to conference hall and from conference hall to tapas bar. Their fervent presence throughout the event was a reminder of how apposite it was to include these young scholars.

IAC2016 – Tralee, Ireland

This conference, labelled by some as ‘the best yet!’, was proudly hosted by the Institute of Technology, Tralee in Ireland’s beautiful southwest from 17th to 19th October. Academics and practitioners came from all over the world to share the findings of their research projects on all sorts of topics from adventurous food, to avalanches, to the development of mountain biking apps. Our keynotes explored the disorientation of tourists’ senses, surfing’s role in breaking boundaries and the influences on how we perceive our environment. The theme of ‘Wild Journeys’ was further developed through our daily practical workshops which included surfing, sea kayaking, coasteering (jumping off cliffs into the Atlantic!), trail development wild cooking. Our Barbeque at nearby Fenit Harbour culminated with the traditional ‘International Trangia Championship’ which illustrated both the creativity and competitiveness of our delegates!

IAC2015 – Sheffield, England

Sheffield Business School at Sheffield Hallam University welcomed the world to the 2015 International Adventure Conference. It is unquestionably the most significant annual event in the field of adventure which consistently attracts an international delegation of leading academic researchers and industry professionals who carry out cutting edge adventure research and who work in the adventure tourism and adventure recreation industries.

The conference was held in Sheffield, the UK’s greenest city. It is the only city with a national park within its city boundary, a third of the city lies in the Peak District National Park, with the city centre just five miles from the Peak District. Sheffield is also regarded as the ‘Climbing Capital’ of the UK with access to grit stone climbing and bouldering in the Peak District and a plethora of climbing walls.

IAC2014 – Sogndal, Norway

This event brought together leading academics, educators and practitioners working in adventure tourism from 29 countries!

The conference theme built on the previous events in Scotland, with a focus on the human-nature interactions which occur during adventurous outdoor activities outdoors. Such experiences may be considered from a practical, commercial point of view, or interrogated through philosophical, sociological or educational lenses. At its heart the purpose of this gathering was to bring together the many perspectives on outdoor activity for its numerous purposes, and to consider how best to understand people’s recreation in these wild places.

IAC2013 – Isle of Skye, Scotland

A three-day conference took place on the Isle of Skye – hosted by West Highland College UHI’s Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research, and supported by Sportscotland, VisitScotland, the Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Nearly 70 visitors from around the world came to Skye and were treated to a menu of outdoor activities tasters from climbing the ‘In Pinn’, to gathering wild food on the seashore or sea kayaking in the Sound of Sleat. They returned to base to hear the first keynote speaker Chris Doyle, Executive Director (Europe) of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) give the opening call to arms, by quoting the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation: “Adventure tourism is what tourism should be today, and definitely what tourism will be tomorrow”.

IAC2012 – Fort William, Scotland

The first two-day adventure conference, held in Fort William on 16-17 February 2012, heard that the health and well-being benefits of just being outdoors are equally as good for you as high adrenalin pursuits.

Run by the Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research (CRTR) at West Highland College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, the conference brought together leading academics, entrepreneurs and practitioners working in the outdoor adventure sector to exchange ideas and confront the issues emerging for this exciting and distinctive niche of leisure, tourism and education in the early 21st century.  Nearly 50 delegates from countries as far-flung as Canada, South Africa and Nepal attended a stimulating and enjoyable conference.

The chosen theme of Meanings, Markets and Magic was intended to capture the notion that individual consumers, learners, tourists and participants in outdoor adventurous activities may make sense of themselves, others and their place in the world as a result of engagement in these activities. The Markets element of the title suggests the presence of a greater, objective force, confronted by individuals, service providers, businesses and educators alike; that market dynamics are at work in these apparent realms of escape. Yet the meanings, and indeed the marketed products, are often imbued with magic; the Magic of authentic personal experience in the natural environment.