2018 Tour Operator Scholarship Winners Demonstrate Commitment to ATTA’s Initiatives

19 June 2018

Aligning its long-standing Tour Operator Scholarship Program with the organization’s social and environmental initiatives, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) has awarded four tour operators with scholarships in 2018. The annual program has been in place since 2009. It is designed to support up-and-coming tour operators by providing access to fellow industry partners who are members of the ATTA’s global network.

Representatives from the Jordan Tourism Board announced the 2018 scholarship winners at AdventureNEXT Near East. © ATTA / Hassen Salum

The four scholarship recipients were selected based on their unique strategies for making a difference in one of the key areas important to the association:

  • Women in leadership
  • Climate action
  • Reducing plastic use
  • Empowering the next generation of leaders in today’s youth
Recipients of the 2018 scholarship are:
These opportunities were made possible by the Jordan Tourism Board (three scholarships) and the Adventure Angels (one scholarship, focused on women in leadership).

Scholarship winners for 2018 will receive an ATTA membership, gaining access to the ATTA’s global network of more than 1,300 member organizations, membership resources and benefits, and a delegate seat and Marketplace table for the 2018 Adventure Travel World Summit, which will take place 15-18 October 2018 in Tuscany, Italy.

“Nattrip is a small company with big dreams. This scholarship will provide us a big brand exposure opportunity of which we will make very good use,” said Rodrigo Fernandez, founder and CEO of the company. Founded in 2010, the Brazilian-based company has always strived to provide stability to travel leaders while operating under strong ethical values. In Brazil, it’s often difficult for people to move from being freelance tour guides to working full-time in the profession, but Nattrip is committed to making this a possibility for some of its young guides. “It is a fact that adventure travel can change the world. To create opportunities for tourism students to develop themselves in this market is a form of empowering such changes,” Fernandez said.

Co-founded by a woman and working closely with female-owned business throughout Moldova, especially in rural areas, GoAdventure Moldova works tirelessly to elevate the women it encounters throughout its business operations by supporting female business owners, helping them growing their businesses, diversify their activities, promote their products, and use their services. Every tour crafted by GoAdventure Moldova includes a visit to a local guest house, where guests can participate in master classes or see local performances led by women. Citing their creativity, flexibility, and adaptability, co-founder and managing partner Natalia Curnic said, “Empowering women in adventure travel will keep this life-changing industry the way we want and expect it to be.”

Unique Adventures Costa Rica, which operates with an eye toward sustainability, not only implements recycling, energy, and resource savings on a daily basis but supports community initiatives that strive for sustainability as well. The company has had a plastics-free policy since its inception, providing locally made canvas bags to clients and collaborators and personalized, reusable coffee cups to guides and staff. It also engages in educational efforts, talking to guests about the environmental problems plastics can cause while participating in hands-on activities like beach clean-up days. “Rather than feel that we are in a category of our own, we like to think that we are part of a bigger effort, and that what we do, on a small scale, multiplies within our providers, guests, and friends and becomes a strong initiative,” said Soledad Naranjo, co-owner of the company.

Similarly, Twin Tracks Expeditions, which offers itineraries in the polar regions, has an eye on climate-related initiatives that help preserve the places in which it works. Everything the company does is focused on minimal impact, and all of its partners are equally committed to reducing waste and emissions. “Creating ambassadors for these beautiful and fragile regions in which we travel is fundamental to creating the groundswell needed to protect them,” said Heather Thorkelson, business development manager and polar guide for Twin Tracks Expeditions.

Attending the Summit and becoming members of the ATTA provides these scholarship winners with exposure, educational resources, and connections that can help push them to the next professional level. And though all four of these companies are already doing commendable and noteworthy work, the ATTA is hopeful they’ll be able to achieve even more with the scholarship package. “The opportunity to come to this ATTA event is huge for our growth potential as a sustainable tourism operator,” Thorkelson said, “and we couldn't have done it without the scholarship.”