Extreme tourism, also sometimes referred to as shock tourism, is travel that is strongly characterized by a sense of adventure or even physical danger. The “extreme” aspect of this type of tourism may derive from a destination itself or from one or more activities which are engaged in during one’s trip. Extreme tourism may be arranged by the traveler herself or may be coordinated by an adventure travel company. Critics of this type of tourism argue that it may lead to environmental damage.
In some cases, extreme tourism draws its sense of thrill or risk from a destination. Some extreme tourists travel to places that are considered moderately or even extremely unsafe for physical or political reasons. For instance, they may travel to regions that have been affected by nuclear disasters, like the area surrounding the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine, or to countries that are at war.
Another form of extreme tourism involves traveling to a destination in order to participate in one or more adventurous or potentially dangerous activities. While there are many different extreme activities in which one can participate, most of these activities are physical in nature. For example, an extreme tourist may take a trip which involves cage diving with great white sharks, BASE jumping, or parachuting from a static point such as a skyscraper or cliff, trekking across a desert, or exploring underwater caves.
Some travelers plan their own extreme tourism trips, while others work with an adventure travel agency. As extreme activities and destinations can pose a number of risks to the traveler, many travel experts advise booking one’s trip through an agency. Working with experienced extreme travel professionals can help ensure that the traveler is provided with accommodation and proper supplies during her trip and that she receives adequate medical attention if she is hurt. An extreme travel company may also be able to connect the traveler with local guides or translators when necessary.
Opponents of extreme tourism hold that this form of travel may put certain areas of the planet at a heightened risk of destruction. For instance, extreme travel to the Antarctic rose significantly from the late 20th century to the early 21st century. Many environmentalists and scientific researchers contend that continued Antarctic tourism may lead to the pollution of the continent as well as the introduction of invasive foreign organisms, which could threaten the existing purity of its ecosystems.