The Rise of Extreme Tourism

World Nomads advises how to plan for safer adventurer holidays


A group of people walking up a mountain Photo © Getty Image / guvendemir

Media Release: London - The risks attached to extreme adventure tourism are both obvious and well-known, but that hasn’t stopped its inexorable rise. Multiple world records for freediving have just been broken at the Vertical Blue festival in the Bahamas; the Netflix documentary The Deepest Breath has become wildly popular; the tragic Titanic Submersible incident in June shone a light on the popularity of Titanic tours, and the deadly Everest mountain climbing season in May again revealed how perilous the mountains can be for climbers in the Himalayas.

Jonathan Frankham, General Manager, UK and Europe at adventure travel insurance specialist World Nomads has shared insights on the implications for travel insurance and how holidaymakers can plan for safer adventure holidays.

Challanges for the insurance sector

Jonathan Frankham says, “The trend has been super-charged in recent years for a number of reasons. New technologies are taking us places we never thought possible, opening up new frontiers for thrill-seekers and giving them opportunities to explore uncharted territories. Secondly, pent-up demand caused by the pandemic has inspired travellers to test themselves and push their boundaries. Lastly, programmes generated around extreme activities, such as ‘The Deepest Breath’ and the space tourism race amongst high-profile billionaires are more hyped than they have ever been.

“The challenges of insuring extreme tourism activities are varied for the travel insurance sector. As seen with recent fatalities in the deepest depths of the world’s oceans and at the highest peaks, there are far higher risks associated with these excursions than the average sightseeing trips.

“Insurance companies need to evaluate skills, training, and experience to assess the level of risk they're taking on and they must figure out how to provide emergency medical help, and evacuations in far-flung locations. Think of expeditions to the polar regions where medical emergency evacuations will involve thousands of miles or the extreme risks involved with space travel.

“World Nomads provides generous limits for over 200 adventure activities – including hiking up to 6,000 metres altitude - which covers trekking to Everest Base Camp or scuba diving to depths of 50 metres, shark cage diving and even heli-skiing, but steers away from summitting Everest or expeditions to the Mariana Trench. The reason for this is that we can only insure for activities that we can offer assistance with should something go wrong. For example, trekking to the summit of Everest will bring you to an elevation of over 8,000 meters, and at that altitude it poses a serious risk to pilots and passengers. Flying a helicopter is incredibly difficult. Landing it is considered to be nearly impossible. It’s the reason why retrieving bodies from the summit remains a rarity even today. And so, insuring against this type of activity will remain the reserve of more specialist travel insurance providers.”

World Nomads' tips on planning for an extreme adventure holiday

Is your activity covered by your insurer?

  • Always read through the policy wording to decide which plan is best suited for the activities and sports that you have planned. If you’re not sure if something you’re planning on doing while on holiday is covered, get in touch with your provider

Does your insurance provide the level of cover you need?

Many travel insurance plans categorise sports and leisure activities into separate levels to reflect degrees of difficulty or intensity. Check your policy wording and be specific when taking out insurance to be safe. 

  • Are you fit enough for the activity?
  • Before trying new experiences, think about fitness and plan your activities accordingly
  • Do you have the correct gear and equipment? Ensure you have all the equipment, footwear or protective clothing to participate safely, and consider whether you require coverage for these items when you take out a policy
  • Is your activity operator certified or credited? Verify the facts before you book

Extreme tourism facts:

  • The global adventure tourism market was estimated at approximately 288 billion U.S. dollars in 2021. According to Next Move Strategy Consulting, this figure is set to grow to roughly 2,824 billion U.S. dollars by 2030
  • Virgin Galactic launched its first commercial flight into space in June, with paying customers set to be welcomed aboard from August. Tickets will cost £356,000
  • More than 100,000 cruise passengers are set to visit Antarctica this season (October – March), an increase of 40% on the largest pre-pandemic year

Media Contacts

Graham Lynch


Phone: +353 86 831 784

About World Nomads

World Nomads is a fast-growing, global travel insurance company. We provide inspirational stories, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for adventurous and independent travelers. Our online travel insurance offers cover to travelers from more than 100 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

Our travel insurance focuses on what we believe is important to travelers: emergency medical and evacuation costs, baggage, trip cancellation, trip delay and trip interruption costs. We also offer cover for more than 150 adventure sports and activities, plus tech and gear. Our policies are underwritten by a suite of specialist travel insurers that provide 24/7 emergency assistance, customer service and claims support, making us a top choice for many of the world's leading adventure, independent and youth travel brands.

World Nomads is a part of the nib Group which provides health and medical insurance to more than 1.5 million Australian and New Zealand residents. We also provide health insurance to more than 170,000 international students and workers in Australia and are Australia’s third-largest travel insurer and global distributor of travel insurance through our business nib Travel.