Bicycle tour directors are gathering in San Diego this week to discuss the growth of their segment of the tourism industry and celebrate their 25th annual conference.
They’re all members of the Bike Tour Network, formerly known as the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. They run everything from one-day charity bike rides, to week-long cross-state mass bike tours, to private bicycle safaris.
Among the speakers at this year’s National Bicycle Tourism Conference is Tim Blumenthal, executive director of People for Bikes, who is delivering the keynote address: “Bicycling 20/20: Increasing Rider Engagement; Growing Our Business.”
One of the many panels include a discussion of how to attract women to bicycle touring. Other topics include everything from ride insurance, to transportation to … beer.
Bike tourism growing
Jim Sayer, executive director of Adventure Cycling Association, had some great news for the bike tour operators — that bicycle touring globally is becoming “more prominent, more lucrative,” and more adjustable to meet changing consumer demands.
Here are 10 indicators that proves to Sayer that bicycle tourism is on the rise:
1. Bike tourism is a growing sector in US and global travel markets, based on a survey by the Adventure Travel Trade Association.
3. Continental and national bike route networks are growing. More miles are added annually to the U.S. Bicycle Route System, the National Cycle Network in the UK and the Euro-Velo network in Europe.
4. More moderate distance bike route networks tied to regional scenic or historical resources are being planned. One example is the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route. Another is Oregon’s scenic bikeway program.
6. Self-guided bike tours gaining popularity. Instead of forming bicyclists into a group under the direction of a leader, companies are making the arrangements for lodging, meals and sightseeing and letting their clients travel on their own at their own pace. The trend is becoming more prominent in Europe.
7. State and federal entities showing their support for bike travel. Consider Amtrak’s first bicycle task force formed in 2013 and efforts by the National Park Service to make the Natchez Trace more bicycle friendly.
8. Bike share systems are proliferating in major cities and tourists are using the bikes to get around those towns.
9. Mass, multi-day bicycle tours continue to thrive. RAGBRAI, Ride the Rockies, Bicycle Ride Across Georgia and many, many more are continuing to thrive. [See a full state by state list at Across State Bike Tours.]
You can read the full press release here.