For several years, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) has hosted a Tour Operator Scholarship Program to foster innovative and meaningful growth of the adventure travel industry and provide financial support to early-stage adventure tourism enterprises, and four winners have been chosen for 2017.
The Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada sponsored three of this year’s scholarship winners, each of which has made a positive impact in the communities where they work and a commitment to Indigenous tourism. “I was excited to see that the driving force behind many of the nominations was the revitalization of community culture through adventure tourism,” said Dené Sinclair, Director of Marketing. “This is one of the key pillars for ATAC, as we know indigenous tourism is more sustainable if there is active engagement and all stakeholders benefit within the community.”
Additionally, the Adventure Angels sponsored one Adventure Angels Abundance Scholarship, which was awarded to a company that has positively impacted women. Both Indigenous tourism and women’s leadership are among the ATTA’s key initiatives.
Scholarship recipients will receive a ticket to the Adventure Travel World Summit being held in Salta, Argentina, in October, as well as a year-long membership in the ATTA, a travel stipend, and a mentorship buddy to pair up with at the Summit. Receiving this scholarship and attending the Summit will help introduce these companies to the larger world of adventure tourism.
This year’s winners are Herencia Verde (Costa Rica), Iwokrama International Centre (Guyana), and Tundra North Tours (Canada). As the recipient of the Adventure Angels Abundance Scholarship, Orom Travel (Tajikistan) will also receive a ticket to the Adventure Women Leadership Studio, held the day after the Summit.
“It was exciting to receive the 2017 Tour Operator Scholarship,” said Michael Patterson, tourism manager of Iwokrama International Centre. The organization has demonstrated a commitment to bringing together Indigenous communities, research and education, and economic value through sustainable tourism practices to manage Guyana’s Iwokrama forest. “The outcome of this experience will assist the hard-working staff at our River Lodge and, by extension, to the local communities.”
Herenica Verde has participated in initiatives in Costa Rica such as sea turtle conservation and reforestation projects. © Herencia Verde
Carlos “Pika” Viquez, ecoteach operations manager of Costa Rica for Herencia Verde, voiced a similar sentiment when he found out his organization had also been awarded a scholarship. Herenica Verde has been involved with a number of projects, including sea turtle conservation, reforestation projects, and the Boruca Indigenous community, which has a rich tradition in ornate, hand-carved masks. “I am so excited to have the opportunity to learn from the other participants and hope to share and apply new knowledge with our projects and partners,” he said. “I also look forward to sharing my experience with those who are interested in what we do for the benefit of cultural, environmental, and conservation programs in Costa Rica.”
“Tourism has the ability to create a positive impact on local people and economies in which they find themselves in, and we value the opportunity to share that in our remote part of the world,” said Mr. Shae Bird, vice president of Tundra North Tours. The Aboriginally owned company in northern Canada showcases its corner of the world while promoting growth in the small, local economy. “We hope to continue the momentum that tourism has throughout Canada, and in our remote region of Canada’s Western Arctic.”
Orom Travel, winner of the Adventure Angels Abundance scholarship, is a female-owned company based out of Tajikistan that has empowered other female-owned enterprises — those working in tourism and beyond — throughout the country. “I’m already feeling what a big role this Summit, networking, and the mentorship program will play in my business and development of tourism in Tajikistan,” said Miskola Abdulloeva, director of Orom Travel.
“It is a blessing to again contribute, through the 2017 Adventure Angels Abundance Scholarship, to the development and success of a deserving woman-owned adventure tourism enterprise in a developing country by sponsoring her attendance to the Adventure Travel World Summit,” said Lorna Greenway, one of the Adventure Angels. “Our selected candidate touched our hearts with candor and authenticity. Her sincere story and tremendous passion for what she does reminded us in some way or another why we do what we do.”
Fittingly, the theme at this year’s Summit is Unite. Protect. Lead., and winners will have the opportunity to learn from others in the industry leading the way in sustainability and forward-thinking business practices. The ATTA and sponsoring partners are pleased to support all of these companies as they take the next step in their professional growth.