Pending approval from the university administration, a minor in adventure tourism should be available this fall through the Hospitality and Tourism Management department. The curriculum project will be the first of its kind in Michigan. Affiliate professor Robert Robins said the concept of adventure tourism is fairly new and one of the fastest growing segments of the industry.
"We all have demands on our time so more and more people want their vacations planned for them and linked to their lifestyles, hobbies and interests," Robins said. "They want to be challenged; they want adventure and excitement with manageable risk."
Robins said adventure tourism has its foundations in the romantic era of exploration but has come into its own during the past 20 years as a definable segment of the tourism industry. As part of his adventure tourism class, Robins said students learn about operations management, marketing, cultural sensitivity and participant motivations. But, students also have the opportunity to take trips and experience what some vacationers want and need through sessions in experiential learning.
In February, a group of students went to the Munising Ice Climbing Festival where they climbed the frozen falls. "Ice climbing was a blast and I felt safe," said Aaron Hagen, a senior majoring in hospitality and tourism management. "It was beneficial to watch and analyze how an event like the festival operates and attracts people to the Upper Peninsula."
Senior Kehaulani Kehoe said ice climbing was challenging, but the experience will help professionally. "Our class has had the opportunity to experience many things," said Kehoe. "We've taken part in geo-caching, scuba diving, kayaking and rock climbing."
Robins said while degrees in adventure tourism are common in Europe, Canada and Australia, Grand Valley will be one of the few universities in the U.S. to offer either a minor or a major in adventure tourism.