Backpackers and independent travellers and adventure tourists are a major economic force that (in my experience) are eager to try active tourism. I don't know much about the economics of the tourism industry but apparently backpackers spend more, travel further and stay longer than other travellers.
- 1% of all holiday trips in the UK are generated by cycling
- 9% of international visitors to Ireland are considered cycle tourists (I was one of those. A bicycle is a brilliant way to explore the Irish countryside)
- 3% of international visitors and 1.6% of domestic visitors to NZ South Island cycle between destinations.
- Domestic cycle tourists in Australia spend an estimated $213 million per anum and spend on average more per day than other domestic tourists.
- No data exists on international cycle tourism in Australia.
The Cycling Resource Centre has some links to tools and research on cycle tourism. I really liked the Murray to Mountains web site for the >100km long rail trail in Victoria. The web site is well designed to appeal to all types, from mountain bikers to touring cyclists and day trippers.
I didn't have much luck finding information on walking and hiking and their contribution to the economy. I don't know whether this is due to a lack of research or just that it does not receive the same focus as cycling. Most of the visitors to our state and national parks go for a walk and many of the parks allow camping.
What I have been surprised at is the lack of multi-day hikes providing huts along the route. This type of facility is quite common in South Africa and makes multi-day hiking something that is attractive for a far larger group of people. The Otter Trail is probably the premier multi-day hike in South Africa and it has at least a two year waiting list for a booking.
It appears Australia's hutted multi-day hikes are either in the alpine regions or in Tasmania. I wonder whether there is potential for more such hiking trails in some of our scenic areas.