February 24, 2023

Travel must become a better global citizen

Shannon Stowell, CEO of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and Keynote Speaker at this year’s ITB Berlin Convention, looks at how the Adventure Travel segment is performing and discusses the association’s sustainability efforts in an exclusive interview with ITB Berlin News.

Can you tell us about the ATTA membership programme and how it empowers travel companies?
The ATTA membership programme serves everyone in the adventure travel industry, but the majority of our members are tour operators (in and outbound), destinations, travel advisors and media. We serve this community of more than 1,100 organisations through connecting them at events, creating research, reporting on trends and delivering advisory services, education and training. We also put on events like the Adventure Travel World Summit. From small businesses to global organisations and DMOs, the ATTA offers an opportunity for anyone to catapult their organisation forward in adventure travel.

What are the main preferences and priorities for adventure travel buyers and suppliers?
I would say some of the cutting edge trends include a desire to work more closely with communities and to find ways to be more sustainable. As adventure travellers leave five to six times as much money in a destination than typical travellers, they work very closely with local suppliers, providers and lodging. Safety, sustainability and quality of experience are three very important issues for our industry.

We use our events and communication channels to promote the reality that sustainability and responsibility are no longer options, they’re a mandate.

How has the segment performed over the past year and what are your predictions for 2023? 
The segment came back comparatively quickly, although unevenly, as the pandemic began to wane and in fact, in many destinations adventure travel thrived on a domestic basis even during the pandemic. The data has not come out yet for this year, but anecdotally we are hearing most of our operator members are seeing bookings as high or higher than 2019, with some exceptions of course. As Asia slowly reopens, that part of the world has yet to catch up in force.

Could you tell us about the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund and how ATTA is promoting sustainability?
The ATCF is a non profit organisation dedicated to supporting grass-root efforts around the world dedicated to protecting threatened communities, cultures, and wild places to preserve their cultural and recreational integrity. It’s an industry-wide supported organisation. Another major effort ATTA is working on is Tomorrow’s Air, the first traveler and travel business collective to remove carbon from the air for permanent storage to reduce climate impact. We also offer a carbon offset programme to our tour operator members called Neutral Together. In addition, we are long term members of ECPAT to protect children and are actively involved in other organisations focusing on DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and women’s leadership.

Why is it important for ATTA and other members of the tourism and travel industry to meet at ITB Berlin?
The travel industry is humans moving humans to interact with other humans. While this seems simplistic, I think it’s important to acknowledge that travel is more of a relational business than a transactional one. Thus, we need to meet each other, build relationships and trust in order to build a healthy industry. I think it’s time for a shift in our thinking in the travel industry based on the realities we have faced and learned during the pandemic – that travel is a privilege, not a right, and we as an industry should think about building what the world needs versus what the traveller demands. These concepts don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Travel must become a better global citizen and we believe there is a path to get there.

Hall 4.1 / Stand 218

AdventureConnect ITB Berlin 2023

The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) is back at ITB Berlin 2023 and will deliver its popular AdventureConnect education and networking event on 8 March at 5pm in Hall 3.1, Green Stage. The event aims to shed light on key insights from the adventure and outdoor travel industry with the ATTA’s latest responsible traveler trends and sustainable event reports. It will feature lively panel discussions between destination representatives, with practical examples and good practices of working within local communities to progress sustainability and net zero strategies.

Join ATTA for their highlight sessions at the ITB Berlin Convention:  

Wednesday, 8 March 2023 16:00 – 17:00  Hall 3.1 Green Stage
Youth, Adventure & Outdoor Track 
Empowering Travelers by Eliminating Unsustainable Choices
Shannon Stowell, CEO, Adventure Travel Trade Association

Wednesday, 8 March 2023 17:00 – 19:00  Hall 3.1 Green Stage
Youth, Adventure & Outdoor Track
Presentations / Panel Discussion
Adventure Connect Adventure Means Business: Sustainable Adventure Travel & Your Bottom Line