5 definitions of trekking

Standardized definitions of adventure tourism activities are a prerequisite to measure the market size and chalk out development and promotional strategies. However, missing standardization hampers collection of reliable and comparable statistics. For example, there is no standard definition of trekking, one of the most popular adventure activities in the world. Here are five different definitions:


1. by Cambridge Dictionary


Trek is to walk a long distance, generally over forests, hills, and / or mountains.


Trekking is the activity of walking long distances on foot for pleasure.


2. Implied definition of trekking by MSHDA


According industrial definitions by Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), the United States of America,


“Adventure travel is a type of tourism involving exploration or travel to remote, exotic and possibly hostile areas, where the traveler should “expect the unexpected”.” And trekking is one of adventure travel activities.


Thus, trekking involves more challenges and higher risks.


3. by AALR, United Kingdom


According to the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations (AALR) 2(1) 2004, the United Kingdom,


“Trekking is journeying on foot, horse, or pedal cycle or skiing over terrain which is moorland or more than 600 metres above sea level; and from which it would take more than 30 minutes travelling time to reach any accessible road or refuge; but it does not include skiing on a prepared and marked-out ski-run.


The most familiar trekking activities include hill walking, mountaineering, fell running, orienteering, pony trekking, off-road cycling and off-piste skiing.”


The scope of trekking is too broad. Trekking includes eight activities: cycling, fell-running, hill-walking, horse-riding, orienteering, mountaineering, skiing, and walking.  But it do define altitude and travel time between the nearest road and the unmarked trekking path.



4. by Caribbean Tourism Organization


“Trekking refers to travel by foot through remote destinations that are, in most cases, inaccessible and unknown to the visitor. This type of holiday is mainly taken in mountainous regions, although this is not a requirement.”


5. by ATTA, GWU, Xola


In Adventure Travel Market Report 2010, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), the George Washington University (GWU) School of Business, and Xola Consulting stated that trekking is a hard adventure.


A hard adventure activity requires special skills and involves high risk.


Here are similarities and dissimilarities among the above definitions:


ATTA, GWU, Xola AALR, United Kingdom Cambridge Dictionary  Caribbean Tourism Organization MSHDA, US 
Involves high risk Inaccessible remote destinations Remote, hostile, and exotic areas
Requires special skills
In moorland >600 meters above sea level Forests, hills, and / or mountains Mainly done in mountains
Walking Walking Travel by foot
Cycling, horse riding, mountaineering, skiing on unmarked run, etc.


So, we can broadly define trekking as travel by foot in difficult terrain. This risky travel may require some special skills.


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