One extremely niche adventure tourism market — featuring stops at places that are uninhabitable, dangerous or have a morbid past — is steadily growing.
Tourism to dark places will be worth $1.3 million by 2023 and is projected to grow by 17% from 2017 through 2023.
One notable aspect of adventure tourism is the insatiable curiosity of certain tourists. Over the years, about 8,000 hardy (if foolish) souls have visited Chernobyl, the site of a catastrophic 1986 nuclear meltdown in Ukraine.
Thanks to a recent hit HBO series, more than 100,000 tourists may visit Chernobyl this year alone. Adventure tourists are visiting the killing fields of Cambodia, too.
Now, some are paying good money to visit an aggressively uninhabitable volcano remnant located in the North Atlantic Ocean west of the Scottish Isles.
Rockall seems to be a tiny mountain peak jutting above the ocean. It is 260 miles west of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. It’s suitable for visits once a year by professional adventurers.
So, adventure travel companies Kraken Travel and Lupine Travel, which specialize in organizing visits to remote and hard-to-access locales, decided to advertise an expedition to Rockall.
The trip was sold out within a week of the announcement.
In May 2020, 18 tourists will visit Rockall for 20 minutes at a cost of $2,000 per person. The reason for the short visit is that Rockall is too dangerous for extended stays by nonprofessional adventurers.
A 1918 tall ship will be used to visit the islet. Scottish adventurer Nick Hancock, who stayed on Rockall for 45 days in 2014, will lead the May 2020 trip.
Bleak and cold
Hancock can attest to the dangers.
“It is a pretty barren place and you can’t really move around too much,” Hancock told Business Insider.
“The main issue is not being able to walk around too much and, if there hasn’t been a storm, there is usually a lot of bird guano, which makes it slippy and very smelly. Then with the sea and winds, it can be a pretty bleak and cold place,” added Hancock.
Rockall was claimed by the UK in 1955 and reclaimed by Scotland in 1972.
Scotland enforces a 12-mile radius sovereign territory zone around the islet. Ireland, Iceland and Denmark also dispute Scotland’s claim to the islet.
Even though the May 2020 trip is sold out there will be more expeditions to Rockall, believe it or not. The next one will be in mid-2022, so book early.
Or go to the Bahamas instead.