chapter
4 Pages

Introduction

ByPETER VARLEY, STEVE TAYLOR

This book is a collection of papers generated as a result of the 2012 Adventure Conference at the School of Adventure Studies, Fort William, Scotland. The theme for that event was ‘meanings, markets and magic’, and it attracted a global audience drawn from a range of disciplines and perspectives. In two broad camps there were educationalists and leisure/tourism providers; in addition there were tourism, leisure and outdoor education academics, theoreticians and some other interests represented. All those attending the conference were also, or had been, participants in adventure tourism, both as consumers of commercialized experiences and/or as autonomous adventurers, and were therefore able to offer a range of insights. Emanating from this event is this diverse collection of ideas under the title of Adventure Tourism: Meanings, Experience and Learning. What is clear from the papers gathered together is that there is much to be exchanged and learnt from all of the perspectives. In particular, however, it seems that adventure tourism could do worse than to return to its roots in outdoor education. The detailed attention paid to the experiential dimension, to feedback, to the dynamics of adventure careers and to dissecting the power of the expedition as a learning tool means that there are deep insights to be had here. Whilst Beames and Varley (Chapter 6) point to the analysis of the service encounter and ways in which it is constructed and controlled, Stott, Allison and Von Wald (Chapter 11) dig beneath the surface and use participant voices to uncover the effects of the experience. Whereas Bauer (Chapter 8) talks of the importance of service quality in the relationship between the entrepreneur and the adventure tourist, Vernon (Chapter 10) explores the balance, or hegemonic imbalance, which inheres in many relationships in outdoor scenarios (although his focus is that of the formal learner-teacher one). Woven into these texts, the reader will find some related gems about the power of narratives in the experience of adventure as resistance to the encroaching aspects of modernity and an engagement with time, or about the limit conditions of body and mind and how these are prodded, stretched and tested in adventurous activities such as skydiving. One is reminded here of Gidden’s ideas about ontological security and how that can be difficult to attain in late modernity; might forms of adventure allow us a reconnection with nature, place and time?