In their Global Report on Adventure Tourism (2014) the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) indicates that there are not only differences between hard and soft adventure activities, but also different types of adventure tourists who approach travel differently:
The (soft) adventure enthusiast is “passionate about a certain sport or activity, tending to pursue the same activity trip after trip, seeking new and exciting destinations in the process”. Their international trips last longer and they spend more money on equipment and gear than the extreme adventurer. Extreme (hard) adventurers such as base jumpers or explorers trekking the Greenland Ice Cap are “independent travellers and thrill-seekers” with a high level of skills who will usually bring their own equipment and don’t require “the attention of tourism development policymakers” (they often camp or provide their own transport). Both adventurer types “seek out locations that are difficult to access“, the enthusiast however may as well choose a destination that is “upcoming but not yet popular“.
Swarbrooke (2003, p.64) synthesizes that “soft adventurers are motivated by self-discovery, the need to escape from the routine of urban life and experience new environments (Lipscombe, 1995), the potential excitement, novelty, and the opportunity to socialize in a controlled environment (Ewert, 1989; Lipscombe, 1995)”, while (…) “hard adventurers thrive when exposed to ‘activities with high levels of risk, requiring intense commitment and advanced skills’ (Hill, 1995: 63). They are far more likely to engage in physically as well as mentally challenging outdoor activities that demand a lot of previous experience and high levels of competence”. According to Lipscombe (1995, cited in Swarbrooke, 2003, p.64), they seek “challenge, danger and risk”. Swarbrooke (2003, p.64) concludes “that soft adventure activities would appeal to a larger proportion of people than those considered to be hard adventure”.