Welcome to Adventure Tourism with SATSA, where the untamed beauty of Southern Africa meets endless opportunities for exploration and growth. The global adventure tourism market is a thriving $1,169.09 billion industry, and South Africa's rich assets, climate, and adventure experiences make it a strong player in this exciting field.
For the past decade, SATSA has been advocating Adventure Tourism, culminating in the formation of the SATSA Adventure Chapter in 2020. Recognising the potential in well-organized and safe experiences, we're taking formal steps, including a self-regulatory environment, a database of credible experiences, and a coordinated community of stakeholders.
We're developing a voluntary self-accreditation process, based on industry feedback, to boost confidence in the region’s adventure tourism sector. This initiative aims to make our offerings safe, competitive, and marketable to travellers, opening doors to new products and non-traditional itineraries.
Join our mission to unlock Southern Africa's potential as a leading adventure destination. With SATSA, you're not just exploring the wild; you are part of a movement that builds integrity and excellence, embracing challenges to shape the future of tourism.
To find out more about our current work, please continue reading below and don’t miss 101 Adventures where we showcase the best of the best adventure activities.
- 101 Adventures South Africa
Why Adventure Tourism
According to Allied Market Research, the global adventure tourism market is estimated to generate $1,169.09 billion by 2028. There is widespread acknowledgement that this market segment is resilient to natural and political setbacks, attracts high-value visitors and is aligned with sustainable practices.
For a country like South Africa where post-pandemic national imperatives include transformation in rural areas, job creation, geographic spread and the development of sustainable tourism products, adventure tourism offers a strong growth opportunity, not least because of its rich assets, excellent climate, and the already extensive array of adventure experiences on offer.
The key challenges facing our adventure tourism sector, based on research conducted before the pandemic, include vulnerability with regard to unscrupulous operators, safety and reliability issues, and a largely fragmented and uncoordinated industry that is under-represented in tourism markets and lacks a cohesive marketing effort.
A Credible, Safe Adventure Tourism Industry
Our rich potential can only be leveraged if these experiences are well organised and safe, hence the need for a more formal approach:
- A self-regulatory environment.
- A database of credible adventure experiences.
- A coordinated community of adventure tourism stakeholders.
Based on industry feedback, SATSA is developing a voluntary and dynamic self-accreditation process that will elevate the profile and operations of this sector and provide the public and private sectors with the confidence that South Africa’s adventure tourism experiences are safe, and competitive, and can be confidently marketed to travellers.
In addition to the job creation opportunities and achieving a coordinated industry with a cohesive marketing effort, the spin-off to this will be the development of new adventure tourism products in areas not traditionally included in traditional itineraries.
Benefits and Outcomes of Self-Regulation
- Avoid potential costly, delayed, and irrelevant government regulation.
- Raise the standards of adventure tourism.
- Create a safe, accredited, and verified adventure tourism industry.
- Market-ready adventure tourism products that can be marketed by South African Tourism, Provincial and Local Tourism Authorities, and the private sector.
- Transformation through the provision of technical and training assistance to new and emerging black-owned adventure tourism operators.
- Improved market access by developing adventure products with a comparative advantage internationally.
- Increased demand by attracting more adventure tourists to South Africa.
- Increased turnover and profit for adventure tourism products. Development of new adventure tourism products, many in non-traditional tourism areas as demand increases.
- Increased employment with the growth in existing adventure tourism products and the development of new adventure tourism products.
- Why Collaborate with SATSA’s Adventure Chapter
Participate in a community to network and grow South Africa’s adventure industry.
Create local and international awareness of South Africa’s adventure tourism value proposition and credibility.
Inform a self-regulatory framework for South Africa’s adventure tourism industry:
- Establish minimum operating criteria.
- Communicate these as minimum standards – a stamp of credibility.
- Develop individual regulation modalities for safety and operational standards.
- Skills development and training requirements.
- Insurance, risk management, and legalities.
To ensure that this is a true industry-led initiative, SATSA is inviting all role-players, stakeholders, operators etc. to join hands with the Adventure Chapter to position our destination.
Several options, from paid membership to free community and stakeholder registration have been made available as follows:
Become a SATSA Member and join the Adventure Chapter
SATSA is inviting all adventure tourism operators to join the Adventure Chapter which already comprises over 150 businesses representing all provinces and adventure types. Chapter members will play a significant role in informing the self-regulatory framework devised by voluntary technical working groups and task teams, participating in a community to network and grow the country’s adventure tourism industry, and creating awareness of South Africa’s adventure tourism value proposition and credibility.
Become an Adventure Chapter Growth Member
To benefit from the work being done, including specialist development initiatives such as training, coaching, etc. and to contribute to positioning South Africa as a top Adventure Tourism destination, we have made available a cost-effective option to join the Adventure Chapter as a Growth Member.
- Micro and Small Adventure Businesses.
- Start-up adventure businesses.
- More established businesses in need of advice, assistance, and guidance to grow (motivation based).
- More than 50% of turnover must be earned from adventure activities or adventure-related services. Turnover of under R10 million.
- A business may remain in this category for three years, after which it can become a full member or a Community Member.
- Full SATSA membership and related benefits.
- Voting rights at Chapter or National Level.
- R 500 excluding VAT per annum.
To become a Growth Affiliate, click here.
List your adventure tourism business for free as a Community Member
To become part of the adventure community, receive information on industry matters and contribute to positioning South Africa as a top Adventure Tourism destination, we have made available a free-of-charge registration to our adventure database.
Available To:Any adventure-related business in South Africa.
- SATSA Membership and related benefits.
- Adventure Chapter Growth Membership and related benefits.
- Free of Charge
To apply, please click here.
Register as a Stakeholder, Industry Body, Association, etc.
We invite associations, legal specialists, educational institutions, and any relevant regulatory authorities to join hands with the Adventure Chapter as a Stakeholder and join the discussions and development of standards.
Click here to register.
Please note that this data is kept strictly confidential and individual information will not be shared with any party outside the direct employment of SATSA, of whom all employees have signed confidentiality agreements. Aggregates of this data will be used to lobby on behalf of the industry.
Adventure Self-Regulation Project
This graphic visualises the full scope of the project:
The project is overseen by the SATSA Adventure Chapter Committee consisting of a broad representation of adventure operators and industry experts. A coordination within SATSA assists with project implementation, but due to a lack of funds and minimal resources, it will be dependent on industry volunteers to assist.
A coordinating unit was to be established should funding be made available, but in the absence of this, the Steering Committee along with available SATSA resources will assume this role. Specialist volunteer resources will be called upon and contract staff hired as and when possible.
Although active since March 2014 a steering/chapter committee was re-established and accepted at the 2022 SASTA AGM. For the roll-out of the self-regulation project, the steering committee was reviewed with industry and project partners voting in representatives.
The Steering Committee will:
- Appoint a chairperson.
- Comprise dedicated volunteers to implement all areas of collaboration and support.
- Appoint/nominate members to assist in achieving objectives either permanently or ad hoc.
- Implement all project deliverables.
- Oversee the development of an industry self-regulation system.
- Meet as regularly as needed for efficient decision-making, monitoring and evaluation.
- Set definitions, working groups & subsectors, and identify activities to regulate.
- Set task teams to monitor and lobby on adventure issues.
- Coordinate task teams and working groups.
- Approve registration, accreditation, and verification criteria as needed.
- Oversee and guide marketing and market access efforts.
- Oversee and guide public relations, communication, and events.
- Conduct due diligence and database development.
- Develop and maintain an industry website.
- Oversee system development and financial audits.
- Research and publish industry statistics.
- Develop partnerships with industry role-players locally and internationally.
- Lobby on behalf of the industry.
- Developing quarterly and annual reports.
Possible contract staff could include:
- Project Manager.
- Project Officer.
- Project Administrator.
Open invitation to the industry to register on the SATSA database, per defined criteria, as follows:
- SATSA Member.
- SATSA Adventure Growth Affiliate.
- SATSA Adventure Community Member.
- Adventure Stakeholder.
- Task Team Participant.
- Technical Working Group Participant.
It is crucial to develop terms and definitions as well as a classification structure for the industry to ensure that there is clarity in communication.
SATSA has researched and classified the Adventure industry according to activities. To view these, click here and view Adventure Tourism.
The steering committee will be supported by five proposed task teams who will provide specialist guidance, partnerships, and lobbying assistance:
- Task Team 1: Skills Development and Training.
- Task Team 2: Risk Management and Legalities.
- Task Team 3: Marketing and Market Access.
- Task Team 4: Transformation and Responsible Tourism.
- Task Team 5: Industry Statistics and Monitoring.
Technical Working Groups
Working groups will be identified to develop standards per activity. They will include associations, operators, legal specialists, educational institutions, and any relevant regulatory authorities.
Currently identified Working Groups are:
- Technical Working Group 1: Wheels-based activities.
- Technical Working Group 2: Boat-based activities.
- Technical Working Group 3: Paddling / Rafting / SUPs.
- Technical Working Group 4: Mountaineering.
- Technical Working Group 5: Aerial Non-Flight.
- Technical Working Group 6: Adventure Sport.
DevelopmentSATSA General Code of Good Practice (CoGP), applicable to all adventure operators that join SATSA or make use of the standards. This is complemented by a Guide to the General CoGP as well as Toolkits to provide information and guidance on all the elements of the CoGP. SATSA Category Specific CoGPs, including guides and toolkits. Individual Activity Standards, including guides and toolkits.
Accreditation and Recourse
- The published CoGPs and standards will be incorporated as membership criteria.
- All SATSA adventure operators providing the relevant activities specified in the published guidelines will be required to complete a self-assessment to indicate their adherence to the standards. This includes permission for SATSA to do unannounced site visits as and when required.
- Those that meet the standards receive an Adventure Chapter Certificate to use in marketing collateral.
- Recourse exists in the form of public and industry complaints of non-adherence sent to SATSA for investigation and potential termination of membership, as per the SATSA Code of Conduct.
Marketing and Development
The marketing and development strategy for the project is twofold:
- Marketing the benefits of the project to Adventure Tourism Operators to be accredited and verified and development of the industry through skills development and training, information dissemination, etc.
- Marketing the accredited and verified Adventure Tourism Operators to domestic and international tourists to grow the industry through the creation of a unique, identifying brand, marketing of the adventure tourism industry at shows and exhibitions and specific joint marketing campaigns.
Communication, Marketing and Market Access
A key element to the success of any project lies in relevant and regular communication and information sharing. This is specifically the case for a self-regulation project where industry, trade and public buy-in are required. As identified during the consultative sessions, the adventure tourism industry is uncoordinated and fragmented in nature, thus the development of an inclusive information and communication platform is vital.
Various communication target markets exist within the project. Apart from a publicity drive to inform adventure tourism operators of the project, the public and tourism trade must also be encouraged to use compliant adventure products. This will be done through the development of a unique sub-brand to assist customers/buyers in recognising compliant products.
Comprehensive guides and toolkits will be developed and published to assist operators to prepare for and to implement the compliance process.
An adventure tourism industry website will be created to serve potential buyers and a membership management system will be developed to ensure ease of application and processing as well as reporting. The site will be accessible from various partner sites.
Market access forms an important part of the project to drive adventure tourism growth. Activities would entail focused campaigns, in partnership with national and provincial authorities, to position South Africa as an adventure tourism destination both domestically and internationally. Furthermore, SATSA will market registered and accredited products to its database of inbound trade members.
Meetings and Events
To encourage greater dialogue on adventure tourism issues, provide market access, create awareness of the importance of self-regulation and add momentum to the project, Adventure Exchange sessions will be held regionally as often as possible. This could be stand-alone adventure days, online adventure education sessions or in collaboration with SATSA Chapter meetings or other events planned.
Skills Development and Training
The Steering Committee will conduct introduction workshops to inform and train operators and other stakeholders on the self-regulation process and assist businesses to prepare for compliance. Topics would include:
- Adventure tourism overview.
- Statutory compliance including adventure guides.
- Modalities for regulation (safety & operational standards).
- Tourism channel, pricing strategies, etc.
It is understood that adventure activity associations play a vital role in developing and promoting activities, representing their members, and developing codes of good practice. This is the backbone of the adventure industry and as such, it is imperative to assist existing and new associations to ensure a growing and sustainable sector.
This will be done through inclusion in the project and association-to-association mentoring as and when required, all falling under the Emerging Association Membership.
Accessibility and Inclusiveness
In alignment with national strategic objectives, it is imperative to facilitate the development of new and emerging businesses.
Each year new and/or emerging adventure tourism operators will be identified and included in mentorship and training sessions to become sustainable successful businesses. Through SATSA’s Growth Affiliates, they could form part of the SATSA Tourism Business Incubator and Enterprise Development efforts.
The aim is to ensure that new adventure tourism products gain market access and be marketed alongside well-established adventure tourism products.
Adventure Industry Documents for Public Comment
To commence the work of self-regulation in the Adventure Tourism Industry, SATSA’s Adventure Chapter produced initial draft documents for industry input.
Please note, this is a first stab at the documents. We are reliant on the Adventure Industry and all Stakeholders, whether a member of SATSA or not, to provide input and ensure that the self-regulation plan is relevant, will benefit the industry and is designed to meet the desired outcomes.
We invite anyone who is involved in Adventure Tourism to submit comments and suggestions on the draft documents below. Industry input will be open for a two-month period until 31 May 2023. Once input is collated and absorbed, the final documents will be published for use.
New documents will be added as and when produced and will follow a similar public comment process.
To provide your valuable input, please submit your comments indicating the following:
- Name of the document
- Page number and section
- Current wording
- Suggested wording
All comments can be emailed to Hannelie@satsa.co.za or sent via WhatsApp at 083 600 3555.
The Adventure Tourism Self-Regulation Roadmap sets out the structure and desired outcomes of the project.
General Code of Good Practice (CoGP) Guide
The General Code of Good Practice Guide provides compliance information and assistance in completing the CoGP Checklist.
General Code of Good Practice (GoGP) Checklist
The General Code of Good Practice Checklist was designed as a simple self-evaluation document to indicate compliance with the most generic aspects of any adventure tourism activity.
- Adventure Industry Toolkits
To support the CoGP Checklist, we are in the process of developing toolkits to explain and expand on the various topics. These will be published here for public comment and will include, amongst others:
- Standard Operating Procedures
- Risk, Safety & Incident Management
- Leadership & Guides
- Participant Care
- Category-Specific Code of Good Practice
Development of category-specific CoGPs is currently underway for the below-listed categories. This will take into consideration the common requirements of all activities within a category. Further categories will be added regularly.
- Wheels-Based Activities
- Boat-Based Activities
- Paddling / Rafting / SUPs
- Aerial Non-Flight
- Individual Activity Standards
Once category-specific codes are developed, each individual activity will develop standards that are unique to the activity, bearing in mind that all requirements of the General and Category-specific CoGPs are in place already.
We thank you in advance for the time investment and commitment to ensuring that Southern Africa’s Adventure industry can be positioned as world-class.
We have a window of opportunity to put adventure tourism on the map in South Africa and these are the first steps to achieving this. And so, the adventure begins…
Please feel free to contact any of the below Adventure Tourism Committee Members for further details: