2015 Winning Case Studies on Sustainable Adventure Tourism

View winners from past years by clicking here.

2015 Canada Research Award

2015 Case Study Winner (Canada)

The students explored Pure Life Paddle Boards, a business in Chilliwack, British Columbia, to see how its owner, Ken Larsen, works to achieve social, environmental and economic sustainability, also known as The 3 Pillars of Sustainability. He works hard.

As one of the students reports, “Through this project I have learned how complex it is to run a business, how hard it is to pursue the true meaning of the existence of the business, and how much Canada is blessed with nature.”

This is a classic example of looking at big goals through the lens of a small company that practices what others preach.

2015 China Research Award

2015 Case Study Winner (China)

Huihang Ancient Road is one of three routes crossing the Eurasian landmass that connected China in the east and Europe in the west for many hundreds of years.
Today the scenic eastern end in Anhui Province exists as “the well-developed and most popular hiking route in Southeast China,” said the students. Today the Road sees some 1 million visitors a year, and all indications are that the Road and the Preserve in which it is located are going to see many more visitors. Is the Road ready? The students decided to analyze the strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/Challenges (S.W.O.T) facing the Road and its communities and service businesses.

Carrying their tent, sleeping bags, backpacks, food and water, and other items, the students spent two days exploring today’s Ancient Road in order to produce their case study.

2015 Case Study Winner (Hong Kong SAR, China)

The title of this case study tells the story: “From Local to National to Global: A Case Study of How a Local-Based Hotel and Communities Helped Develop HK Geopark into a World-Class Destination for Sustainable Adventure Tourism.”

Eight “geo-areas” comprise the HK Global Geopark and between them they serve as a handy introduction to geology. As the students note, the parks showcase Hong Kong’s “timeless and eerily beautiful landforms” as well its flora and fauna. Be prepared for hiking and boat tours to enjoy them all.

And the difference between a Geopark and a Global Geopark? “ A Global Geopark is an area with a particular geological heritage of international significance and also with a sustainable development strategy involving local communities.”

2015 Hungary

2015 Case Study Winner (Hungary)

The Mátra is a mountainous area in northern Hungary that is part of an old volcanic zone. It is also home to the Mátra Nature Protection Area, which bans many activities, including collecting plants and geological specimens, and protects wildlife. People touring on bikes have to follow dedicated routes. No machines powered by gasoline or diesel are allowed, nor are information signs on trees. The number of visitors to the Nature Protection Area are controlled.

In spite of all the controls, the Mátra is also home to the High-Tech Sports Base at Mátrafüred. The company obtained a permit to operate in 2010. How the company uses technology to comply with the requirements of the Protected Area is the story the students report.

2015 Case Study Winner (Jamaica)

The students are intrigued by paragliding, a sport that is growing in popularity in Jamaica. It’s fun and sustainable since paragliding is both kind to the environment and does not consume much in the way of resources. A paragliding enthusiast needs a fabric wing and a steep hillside slope to launch from, preferably with a nice view. Jamaica has plenty of those. An added attraction, report the students, is that most of Jamaica’s competitors in the Caribbean do not offer the sport to their visitors. The students report on this niche sport and its potential to help diversify what Jamaica offers visitors.


2015 Case Study Winner (Kenya)

Kakamega Tropical Rainforest is the largest Kenyan remnant of a forest that stretched across Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to 488 bird species, 46 of which are only found in the Kakamega forest; 36 snake species; 21 lizard species; 487 species of butterflies; animals ranging from the Clawless Otter to the Giant Water Shrew. There are any number of massive trees, some over 300 years old, and waterfalls. The problem facing the survival of the forest is that people need work and they need food.

“The people living around it depend on it for timber, fuel wood, herbal medicine, building materials and food,” report the students. “Kakamega Forest, being a biological system, has to remain diverse and productive indefinitely.” They explore what needs to be done.

2015 Case Study Winner (Russia)

The students started thinking how Accessible Adventure Tourism could work for people with health limitations or disabilities in their hometown, Tver. Tver is a 12th century city town with 18th and 19th century architecture, located between Moscow and St. Petersburg on the Volga river. Instead of just thinking about it the students created the Accessible Adventure Cycling Tour, an enterprise with real customers. Creating the business required initial surveys, market research, promotion, an action plan, training, creative itineraries, and activities. And then there was equipment to adapt: bicycles, tricycles and wheelchairs. Customers of course need to be trained. The students were helped by school friends, teachers and their school’s administrators. Also “we were really lucky with enthusiastic response from the city administration, travel & tourism businesses, medical and social care institutions and NGOs who were eager to help us,” the students report. They can handle 10-15 riders per tour. Their customers write rave reviews about the tour.

2015 Case Study Winner (South Africa)

“There are a number of threats caused by adventure tourism activities,” say the students. “Mass tourism can have negative effects. Natural resources can be exploited. Local communities can be influenced negatively.”

The students examine Storms River Adventures, a well-established firm located in Tsitsikamma in the Eastern Cape Province, to see how it deals with the three potential threats.

They examine the ways the company achieves its environmental objectives that include protecting water sources, reducing its carbon footprint and protecting 300-year old trees. Social responsibility activities range from providing free meals for young children who need them to sponsoring veterinary clinics.

2015 Case Study Winner (United Kingdom)

“UK adventure tourism has experienced steady growth over the past 10 years,“ report the students, “ particularly given facilities and infrastructure development, improved access arrangements, more aggressive marketing and information provision.”

The students review “how different companies contribute in making UK adventure tourism more sustainable.” The four organizations selected, say the students, “are recognized at both local and national levels for their contribution to the promotion of sustainable tourism.”

Examined are: “Go Ape,” one of the UK’s fastest-growing outdoor adventure tourist parks, with 54 sites nationwide; “Wilderness Scotland, winners of two awards; “Nevis Range,” a government-run organization, and “ Haggis Adventures,” a family-run organization.