Astrotourism

Or astro-tourism. Or even astro tourism.

However you choose to spell it, it’s a niche that continues to expand and grow – especially as immersion tourism and experiential travel take greater hold of the market’s imagination and expectations. By its very nature, it’s also one of the more sustainable areas of the industry and lends itself well to the ethos of responsible travel.

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Calar Alto Observatory, Spain – from where astrotourism pioneers Azimuth conduct stargazing and telescope viewing activities.

At the ITB Travel Trade Fair in Berlin this year, there was a special focus on this area of tourism, as they explained:

“Humans have had a fascination with the stars and space travel since the beginning of time. 

Under the heading of ’Gazing into the night skies’ sparkling diamonds – A journey through the vast universe’, experts will have information on the challenges facing the international travel industry in its aim to make astrotourism viable in a responsible and sustainable way.”

I was delighted to be a part of this Astrotourism Pow-Wow where the continued battle against light pollution was brought to the forefront of discussions, and where astronomers, tour operators and the general public gathered to explore future potential.

The stand of the Eifel National Dark Sky Park, Germany, at ITB 2017

Astrotourism discussion at the 12th Annual Pow-Wow, ITB 2017

Astrotourism takes many forms and appeals to all market segments. From safari/stargazing combos to northern lights cruises, from rural homestays to observatory visits, there’s something for everyone, and even if you are not easily impressed, I challenge anyone to remain underwhelmed by a total eclipse of the sun.

Solarsphere Festival

I have been an astronomy enthusiast since before my teens and continue to take an active interest today. I am a member of the Society for Popular Astronomy and a supporter of the great work done by the International Dark Sky Association.

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I have worked with the British Astronomical Association and Astronomy Now magazine and was an early supporter of the BAA’s Campaign for Dark Skies (CfDS). At Travel Continuum my focus is to promote the experiential and learning benefits of astrotourism and to encourage everyone to consider it in their future travel plans.

Contact me on travelcontinuum@hotmail.com if you:

  • are promoting a region which contains (or is near to) a Dark Sky Park or Reserve
  • would like to include astrotourism in your destination marketing campaigns
  • are interested in exploring new sustainable tourism initiatives
  • wish to means-test the suitability of existing astrotourism activities for your audience.