Design and development of touristic products Main author: Gábor Michalkó Szilvia Boros, János Csapó, Éva Happ, Pál Horváth, Anikó Husz, Mónika Jónás-Beri, Katalin Lőrinc, Andrea Máté, Gábor Michalkó, Erzsébet Printz-Markó, Krisztina Priszinger, Tamara

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Rafting Open sea kayaking and canoeing Free rock climbing Extreme skiing Etc.

Source: Magyar Turizmus Rt. (2003) and Michalkó, G. (2002), amended by Csapó, J. 2010

We have to say a few words about adventure tourism and extreme tourism as well. In our interpretation these new active tourism products and leisure time activities are travel and pastime activities which are different from the conventional activity, are more demanding and “adventurous”, and which offer new exciting and “adrenalin-packed” experiences that cannot be achieved by the traditional forms of tourism (Csapó J. 2010). Extreme tourism is not always the same as extreme sports.

We have already mentioned that international tourism literature does not use the term ‘active tourism’ or uses it with different content, still there is a non-for-profit organisation that does use and even define the term active tourism. The Mexico-based Active-Tourism Organisation is a non-for-profit organisation that supports responsible and active tourism travels within organised frameworks, including e.g. a worldwide red list of service providers not meeting the requirements of active tourism – although they considered themselves as suitable service provider –; their website, where the expression “Active Tourism” is a legally protected registered trademark (see at ( includes relatively sophisticated materials on the definition and the relations system etc. of this concept.

In their approach active tourism is “a responsible way of travelling that requires physical and mental participation of the tourist, taking the criteria of sustainability, the protection of biodiversity and the preservation of culture into serious consideration. Important elements of the tourism product are recreation and education, respect and observation, and the active participation of a local expert – professional tour guide – in the given travel” ( They also emphasise that active tourism has 3 main purposes: recreation, education and learning, and profit realised at the local level. Although this approach is slightly different from the one applied by the Hungarian experts, the strengthening of the focus on sustainability and active participation by the inclusion of the local experts and inhabitants is definitely welcome. This organisation handles the concept of ecotourism differently – like we do in our definition – but remarks that there are considerable overlaps among the tourism products.

In our interpretation the concept of active tourism excludes health tourism, ecotourism, tourism of theme tours and theme parks, despite the fact that they evidently have motivations or forms that inspire the tourist to have an “active” recreation. Accordingly, the “aquapark” of a thermal or medicinal spa, its entertainment facilities, ecotours and theme tours, or cycling and hiking available within the framework of rural tourism evidently have overlaps with the concept of active tourism, but our book deals with these products separately, primarily due to the marked differences. This issue is dealt with in more depth in chapter 2.

When examining the historical development of active tourism we can say that it is a relatively new phenomenon within the tourism industry, accordingly this tourism product appeared in the second half of 20th century. This was the time when, as a consequence of the urbanisation processes created by the former industrial revolution, the “everyday” people did not necessarily have any longer the previously general and almost natural good physical condition, so there was a growing demand for movement and pursuing a more active lifestyle. Getting away from the urban zones at that time was provided by the parks and the suburban leisure time zones, but the first forms of active tourism in the modern sense of the word showed up in the beginning of 20th century, in the form of alpine ski tourism. Later on these active tourism activities penetrated to the protected areas, national parks and also to other fields suitable for practicing an active lifestyle.

The rapid development of this tourism product, however, was promoted by the strengthening of the desire to get away from modern mass tourism, and its heyday is definitely in our time. Hiking, walking in nature, cycling and other leisure time activities are becoming part of the ordinary people’s lives too, changing these days many things from clothing through foods, considerably changing the way of life and the attitude to life of the active tourist.

We have to add that when looking at the history of these leisure time sports we find that these activities have been/are more and more moving towards extremities, even simple cycling has at least ten versions by now and bicycle itself is chosen by function (trekking, downhill, urban etc.) and not “only” driven by the desire to “cycle”. This is of course true for the other forms of tourism as well.

At the end of the theoretical approach to active tourism we would like to mention that in our opinion it is sad that the most important periodical of the Hungarian tourism industry, Turizmus Bulletin (Tourism Bulletin) – despite the fact that the Magyar Turizmus Zrt. (Hungarian Tourism Inc.) declared the year 2011 the year of active tourism – only contains a very few studies or articles on active tourism, and the function ‘search’ finds no matches at all for active tourism product. Of course we find articles and topics with overlaps, although not in large numbers, in the Turizmus Bulletin.

The need for the understanding of this tourism product and its research on scientific grounds is justified primarily by the conference that was initiated by the Faculty of Physical Education and Sports Studies of the Semmelweis University on a symposium in 2007 called “The situation and development of active tourism in Hungary”. The topic has a large number of publications in the periodical called Sporttudományi Szemle (Journal of Sports Studies), with the primary focus on sports tourism of course.

2. Elements of the supply of active tourism

2.1. Attraction(s)

The attractivity of active tourism can be divided – similarly to the general analysis of tourism sector as a whole – into natural and manmade attractions, bearing in mind that the role of natural attractions is far more important than that of the second category. Accordingly, the typical fields of scenes of active tourism are primarily (high) mountains, natural rivers and still waters, and all other elements of the natural environment that are good for pursuing tourism activities involving active movement.

Man-made attractions can be climbing walls, ropeway, zorb balls (rolling balls), summer bob sledge tracks, summer ski tracks (with artificial grass) and bicycle routes. The list is endless by the invention of ever newer leisure sports.

We have to remark that a very important actor is the geographical distance and the accessibility of the given tourism attraction, and another factor of vital importance is the proximity of the given area to an established tourism attraction or destination: in the vicinity of popular tourism resorts active tourism can offer good auxiliary programmes or activities, allowing both spatial centralisation or decentralisation of tourism.

2.2. Tourism infrastructure

In order to have active tourism, a given tourism area of course must have adequate conditions. When examining the reception capacity, we have to check if a destination has attractions in adequate quantity and quality, as well as the tourism infrastructure and suprastructure promoting these attractions.

As it is also remarked in the Hungarian National Tourism Development Strategy (NTDS), in general we can say that the conditions of reception for active tourism are not adequate yet in Hungary, the connected services are deficient; they are not adequately built out. We also have to remark, however, that these days, following the international tourism trends and the growing health consciousness of the populations, a growing number of entrepreneurs or municipalities invest in active tourism: examples are the extreme sports parks in Hungary (Mecsextrém Park in Pécs, Visegrád Bob Sledge Track), motorsport-related tracks (Hungaroring, Kakucsring, go-kart tracks, motocross tracks), or the more and more frequent bicycle route programmes or constructions (construction of the Pécs-Orfű bicycle route, Three Rivers Bicycle Route).

It is evident that more bicycle routes must be built for cycling tourism, which, besides providing the infrastructure background of the tourism sector, could integrate Hungary to the international networks of bicycle routes, also strengthening the cross-border relations and cooperations. In addition, the building out of adequate services and road maintenance systems is also necessary.

Hiking in nature does not have a major requirement for infrastructure, but the placement of information signs on the forest trails and alleys, the placement of benches or the establishment of forest sports fields would further increase the attractivity of this product.

As regards water tourism, the NTDS document also remarks that we have to improve the quality of sailing tourism on the Hungarian lakes, by the provision of ports with advanced infrastructure, and of services. The development of the infrastructure of another important branch of water tourism, river tourism must target the improvement of the conditions of motor and paddle sports.

The infrastructure conditions of Hungarian golf tourism are good in the existing golf clubs, but they do not have international recognition yet.

The most important development document for equestrian tourism is the Product Development Strategy of Equestrian Tourism for 2007–2013, approved in 2009. The document gives a detailed analysis of the positions and opportunities of this tourism product in Hungary, including the state of infrastructure, and also makes recommendations for developments, at regional level.

2.3. Tourism suprastructure

As regards the positions of the primary tourism suprastructure of active tourism – i.e. commercial accommodations and catering facilities –, we can definitely say that their qualitative development for active tourism leaves much to be desired. In order to reach the international level, we should have a massive stock of commercial accommodations to use the endowments that we possess. This is also true for the secondary tourism suprastructure, although it is true that active tourism more and more frequently appears in the marketing and promotion of any geographical unit, or in the offer of travel agencies. The biggest deficiency might be seen in information offices and the flow of information, the only solution for which, for the time being, seems to be (the users of) internet.

3. Characteristics of the demand of active tourism

3.1. Tourists’ motivations, socio-cultural background, touristic behaviour, the weight within travel habits

The main motivation factor of active tourism, in addition to the motivations generally present in tourism, is the physical and psychical motivations of tourists which spur them to pass their leisure time by some active recreation. It is of course associated with the – relatively new – honourable social need for a more and more healthy way of living, in order to avoid or counterbalance the everyday stress.

An important motivation factor or attraction is of course natural environment itself, as this form of tourism is basically an “outdoor” activity. The foundation of the system is obviously movement and activity, while motivations of almost the same significance include, besides being in nature, adventures or adventure-like experiences. A third factor of the motivation system in our opinion is the presence of manmade attractions – which may be available both in “indoor” and “outdoor” forms.

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