Earlier this month, at the Outdoor Retailer (OR) Winter Market in Salt Lake City, Utah, the focus was on the centennial celebration of the U.S. National Parks Service. The outdoor industry is rallying around domestic travel this year and the lessons that the national parks hold for an increasing diversity of visitors. This is, of course, a perfect cause for the industry to support and there are ample dovetailing opportunities for the adventure travel industry to get involved in these initiatives. But six months ago, at the OR Summer Market, all eyes were focused east — to Nepal — to a country that was hurting, where both the outdoor and tourism industries were hit hard by a natural disaster and circumstances outside of anyone’s control.
I recently attended a “Safety in Travel” seminar in Seattle run by a former career CIA agent. His number one piece of recommended gear? A headlamp. I now have one in my carry-on on every trip. Princeton Tec was kind enough to donate lamps to the attendees of AdventureWeek Rebound Nepal and it turned out to be VERY important for myself and Omar Samra, the Egyptian explorer, who ended up mountain biking downhill in the dark because of a delayed flight (in addition to our unwillingness to give up the opportunity for an adventure). The lights certainly saved us from nasty crashes in the dark and the Nepalese operators who won the lamps at the AdventureConnect in Kathmandu were very grateful for the thoughtful gift.
— Shannon Stowell, ATTA President
Six months ago, both industries were trying to spread the word that Nepal was open for business. “If you can’t get to Nepal in the next year, go there in your mind,” said North Face mountaineer Pete Athans in his keynote, “Go there in your heart.” And now, AdventureWeek Rebound Nepal on the Great Himalaya Trails has come and gone. In summer we were anticipating this opportunity to showcase a destination that didn’t want to be forgotten; this winter we are reflecting on what happened during that week in October, when we gathered together journalists and adventure tour operators and took them to Nepal so they could tell the world with confidence that Nepal is open for business.
Polar explorer Eric Larsen was with us last summer at Outdoor Retailer. He shared that he wore his ExOfficio underwear for 55 days straight on a journey to the North Pole, while we gathered the adventure travel industry together at the DeLorme (who sponsors Larsen along with ExOfficio) booth. Larsen, whose mission is to help bring awareness and preservation to the globe’s cold places, came along on AdventureWeek Rebound Nepal to document the symbolic return of adventure tourism to the region. As the official storyteller for the trip, he made this video, a beautiful story with a powerful message: Nepal is damaged but not destroyed, and it’s waiting to be explored.
“Tourists in Nepal have a huge impact in direct and indirect ways,” says Larsen. “It was an eye opening experience for me…We can help people who are still in the process of recovering.”