While in the San Francisco Bay Area a couple of weeks ago, I was graciously offered a press pass to the Travel and Adventure Show being held there. I figured: hey, I love travel (duh!) and it would be great to see what current trends are. So I hopped on board. Here is what I discovered there.

The Taiwan booth granted me my wish of becoming a soup dumpling!

Guided tours are alive and well

Being on the edge of Gen-X and Millenials, most of the people I know, myself included, plan their own travel. I figured that most people did the same. Apparently, I was wrong. Nearly half of the vendors at the show were tour providers, covering locations from the Grand Canyon to Antarctica, and everywhere in between.

Rick Steves was the highlighted speaker at the Show, and in addition to providing guidebooks, he also offers guided tours.

A packed crowd for Rick Steves

Eco-tourism is on the rise

I was surprised to see so many vendors for eco-destinations. Sure, Costa Rica and Hawaii would appeal to a wide audience, but Antarctica, Botswana, and other off-the-beaten-path destinations surprised me. And those booths were packed with people of all ages genuinely interested in a gorilla trek!

Now how do I get one of these amazing destinations to want to work with me?

One aisle of about twenty at the Show

Even the smallest destinations have their own tourism agencies

I work with tourism boards. I was shocked to find that pretty much every county and small town in Northern California and Southern Oregon (two regions heavily represented) had organizations trying to get people to visit, and advertising all the reasons they should.

More importantly, those booths were also doing quite well. While international travel is on the rise, so is domestic adventuring. Just as many people, if not more, seem fascinated by a long weekend in Gold Country, or hiking a volcano.

So what did I learn at the Travel and Adventure Show? I learned that travel is alive and well, and with all ages and economic strata. I learned that there are more tour providers than I had ever thought possible, and that they are thriving. I learned that Rick Steves is still a HUGE draw. These things all give me hope that there is an amazing audience out there for deep thinking travelers!

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