2019 Tour Operator Scholarship Winners Tackle Climate Problems, Empower Women

23 July 2019

Emerging tour operators from India, Kenya, Nepal, and Tajikistan have been named as this year’s Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) Tour Operator Scholarship Program winners. Scholarship recipients received registration for the 2019 Adventure Travel World Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, in September and a one-year membership in the association, giving them access to industry connections, networking opportunities, and membership benefits to amplify and accelerate their adventure businesses.

The 2019 winners are: Poonam Rawat-Hahne of Fernweh Fair Travel – Uplifting Communities, India; Samson Maundu, CEO of Rosolo Safaris and Events, Kenya; Anish Neupan, director of Himalayan Circuit, Nepal; and Alovaddin Kalonov, CEO and founder of Paramount Journey, Tajikistan. They will be honored at the ATTA’s cornerstone annual industry event, which draws 800 delegates working in the adventure travel industry from around the world.

Fernweh Fair Travel – Uplifting Communities was recognized for the work it does to empower women. © Fernweh Fair Travel – Uplifting Communities

Each of this year’s winners demonstrates efforts specifically aligned with one of the ATTA’s strategic initiatives: eliminating single-use plastics, climate action, empowering young leaders, and women in leadership.

“We are routinely impressed and inspired by the work Tour Operator Scholarship applicants are doing to develop sustainable adventure tour operations. The four scholarship winners selected this year have clearly demonstrated their commitment in areas important to the ATTA,” said Mira Poling Anselmi, the ATTA’s membership director. “I’m confident they’ll not only learn a lot in the Summit’s educational sessions, but they’ll also begin developing important partnerships that will help their companies continue to grow in the years to come.”

The Adventure Angels sponsored this year’s winner empowering women leaders, Fernweh Fair Travel – Uplifting Communities. This female-led non-governmental organization develops rural responsible travel itineraries including homestays, curated tours through local markets, and treks in the Indian Himalayas. Launched in 2016, Fernweh Fair Trail – Uplifting Communities empowers and supports local communities, specifically women. “Our company is led by women and all our team members are women, including the camping staff. We have trained and hired underprivileged women in the Indian Himalayas,” Rawat-Hahne said. “This (scholarship initiative) is wonderful, and through it, our little women-led project gets an amazing opportunity.”

The 2019 winners demonstrating excellence in eliminating single-use plastics, climate action, and empowering young leaders are sponsored by the Jordan Tourism Board.

Rosolo Safaris and Events has been an active in several climate action projects. © Rosolo Safaris and Events

Maundu’s company, Rosolo Safaris and Events, which was recognized for its comprehensive work in climate action initiatives, participates in tree-planting exercises, works on water catchment projects, and actively communicates with guests about climate-related issues like water usage and eliminating plastics. “I am humbled to be a recipient of the Tour Operator Scholarship Program, and I will take the opportunity to learn from adventure travel practitioners on sustainable travel practices and being a supporter of reduced plastic use for the benefit of our environment,” he said.

Himalayan Circuit is taking an active role in reducing single-use plastics in Nepal. © Himalayan Circuit

Himalayan Circuit, based in Nepal, was recognized for its efforts to reduce plastic use. As noted by Neupan in the company’s scholarship application, Nepal is facing a single-use plastics and waste management crisis, and Himalayan Circuit notes its responsibility in educating and implementing efforts to reduce the environmental impact of the country’s visitors while supporting its profitable tourism industry. “We believe that environmental conservation is a community effort,” Neupan said. “Ensuring we partner only with those companies whose values and vision align with ours greatly increases the impact of our efforts.”

Paramount Journey is challenging the status quo in Tajikistan with several initiatives led by young leaders. © Paramount Journey

In Tajikistan, Kalonov points to the country’s tourism infancy and the opportunity and responsibility Paramount Journey has to inspire, develop, and promote adventure travel experiences. The company is taking an international approach to its growth, carefully considering and developing global partnerships while capitalizing on its local expertise. The Paramount Journey team is young and ambitious, eager to lead Tajikistan’s tourism development and demonstrate the industry’s importance in job creation, vocational education, economic growth, and nation branding. “It is always hard to start, and it is even more challenging to be different in the market,” Kalonov said, “but the key is finding your own path to be recognized by others. That was the rule for our team from the beginning, which led us to be one of the top travel operators in Tajikistan in such a short time.”

This year marks the tenth year of the ATTA’s Tour Operator Scholarship Program.