Adventure tourism is not just for adrenaline junkies: Ankush Rana, co-founder, ParaBooking

Adventure tourism is not just for adrenaline junkies: Ankush Rana, co-founder, ParaBooking
  • Individuals whose disposable income increased during the pandemic, aged between 25-35, turned to adventure tourism and facilitated the market.
  • Adventure tourism promotes sustainable tourism— it attracts visitors outside of peak season and highlights a destination’s natural and cultural values, thereby promoting its preservation.
  • Adventure sports aren’t for adrenaline junkies alone, and can be categorised into hard and soft adventure activities.
On Sunday, the Indian government announced its plan to launch two mega-adventure tourism trails in the Himalayas and Ganga this year. This is the latest boost in the rising popularity of adventure tourism in India, which has captured the attention of tourists across the nation.

However, adventure tourism comes with its own challenges and expectations. Ankush Rana, CEO and co-founder of ParaBooking shared with Business Insider India about the rising interest in adventure tourism in India and its various aspects, from requisite safety standards to sustainability.

ParaBooking is an online paragliding booking portal founded in 2021. It’s the first ever Himachal Pradesh-based tech startup to develop sophisticated SaaS-based tools that can scale across the nation to bring safety and regulations in the adventure sports industry. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

Can you tell us a little about the recent rise in adventure tourism in India?

The adventure tourism business, globally, has experienced rapid expansion due to declining travel-related costs, growing incomes, and a wider variety of possible tourist activities. India also has immense potential as it has a significant geographical advantage owing to its rich natural and ecotourism resources. India can offer a range of adventurous activities including rafting, trekking, cycling, and caving, among others, as well as exposure to the outdoors ranging from mountains to beaches and of course, different cultures.

How has the pandemic impacted adventure tourism in India?


Revenge tourism post-pandemic enabled travellers to take up an adventure outside of their comfort zone. They were keener to explore and get out of the homes that had them cooped up during the pandemic. Those individuals whose disposable income increased during the pandemic, aged between 25-35, turned to adventure tourism and facilitated the market.

Does India have stringent safety regulations for adventure sports? What academies or courses in India provide proper training to guides, instructors and organisers?

In order to grow and develop adventure tourism in India, the National Strategy for Adventure Tourism has been prepared. It focuses on developing adventure destinations, promoting safety, skill development, capacity building and marketing. Keeping in view the specialised nature of adventure activities and the risks involved, proper training and certification of the workforce of adventure activity service providers are essential.

The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) is already providing various skills in adventure tourism through the Indian Institute of Travel and Tourism, the National Institute for Water Sports, National Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering. There are other training institutions run by central ministries and state governments. MoT also strengthens the facilities for training guides through nationally accepted certification processes across the country.

River rafting in Rishikesh, scuba diving in Andamans, dune bashing in Jaisalmer and paragliding in Bir Billing are some of the well-known adventure sports in India. Can you shed some light on other, lesser-known adventure sports and destinations?

India has so many untouched sites that have not been explored by travelers. While bungee jumping in Rishikesh and skiing in Auli has gained momentum in the past years, the not-so-popular ones are:

  • Hot air balloon rides near Manali, Goa and Rajasthan
  • Caving in Amarnath Cave, Borra Caves, Visakhapatnam and Meghalaya, East Khasi Hills
  • Parasailing in Varkala beach
  • Hiking in Tiger Hill, Darjeeling and Nagalapuram Trek, Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh
  • Dirt Biking in Coorg, Karnataka and Munnar, Kerala
  • Kayaking in Kali River, Uttarakhand, Backwaters of Kerala, Brahmaputra River, Arunachal Pradesh
  • Snorkeling in Elephant Beach on Havelock Island; Andaman and Nicobar Islands; Monkey Island, Goa
  • Surfing in Ramakrishna Beach, Andhra Pradesh’ Kovalam Beach, Kerala; Gokarna, Karnataka
  • Ziplining in Munnar, Kerala Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, Kerwa Dam, Madhya Pradesh
  • Skydiving in Aamby Valley in Maharashtra, Mysore in Karnataka, and Deesa in Gujarat
Are adventure sports only for adrenaline junkies?

It’s a common misconception that adventure sports are only meant for adrenaline junkies. It's not. Adventure sports help one discover themselves and explore a side that wasn’t previously obvious. It can be categorised into hard and soft adventure activities. While adrenaline junkies can opt for high-altitude mountaineering, river rafting, scuba diving, paragliding, skydiving, and more, for non-adrenaline junkies, activities like hiking, camping, and biking can be explored.

Are there any Indian destinations that have seen a spike in tourists due to adventure tourism?

On top of my head, rock climbing activities in Rakcham have seen a significant spike. Rakcham is a small, picturesque village in Sangla Valley in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Organisers and locals have benefited from the mutual relationship.

Do you think adventure tourism poses a risk to the natural environment, either due to the activity itself or influx of tourists? For example, after 3 Idiots released, Pangong Lake was flooded with tourists who ruined its ecology with plastic garbage.

Adventure tourism is one of the important segments to promote sustainable tourism. It attracts visitors outside of peak season, highlights the natural and cultural values of a destination, thereby promoting its preservation, and creates resilient and committed travellers. Adventure tourism practitioners encourage sustainable tourism because, without a pristine natural environment and meaningful cultural experiences, adventure tourism cannot exist. It follows sustainable practices as it supports local economies and communities.

How is ParaBooking hoping to change and enhance adventure tourism in India?

The adventure travel industry in India is witnessing steady growth as it is quickly gaining traction and momentum. At ParaBooking, we are trying to streamline the complete operation by keeping track of all the variables and identifying the weak spots before an incident occurs. This is a unique approach that hasn't been undertaken previously and has the potential to be adopted not just in India, but also overseas.

We began with paragliding in premier locations in the Himalayan range, and now aim to take safe adventure tourism to the masses and at the same time, provide employment opportunities to local pilots and guides.

ParaBooking operates through a two-pronged model for generating revenues: adventure sport (paragliding) and SaaS tools for adventure tourism operators/agencies across the nation. We offer services in multiple locations which include Bir Billing, Kullu Manali and Dharamshala and have successfully completed over 1,000 tandem paragliding flights.

Our engagement as a Tandem Paragliding Aggregator/Operator gives us insight into the day-to-day operations, and an opportunity to test and improve our product. We keep track of all the pilots, and the equipment they use for each flight. We do quality control and take regular feedback from both the pilots and the passengers on their experience.

We worked with an insurance company and got a special insurance product that offers coverage for adventure sports like paragliding, mountain biking, and trekking along with helicopter search and rescue operations. We have come forth in this space with an easy-to-navigate app for operators and have worked with verified pilots and tested equipment to fix the trust deficit in the Indian adventure tourism space.