In its ongoing efforts to build bridges globally, ATTA’s President Shannon Stowell, Business Development Director Chris Chesak and Membership Administrator Murray Bartholomew presented U.S. perspectives on adventure travel and ecotourism on February 16th to 18 mid- to senior-level Russian Far East executives and entrepreneurs in the ecotourism industry participating in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s SABIT (Special American Business Internship Training) Program. SABIT is a four-week program designed to provide targeted industry training to professionals from Eurasian countries and spur discussion, address emerging trends, and potentially lead to partnerships between the participants and the U.S. host companies.
SABIT’s Ecotourism Program is specifically targeted for professionals from the Russia Far East region. The program is based on matching host companies with the industry-related interests of the group. Delegates are selected through a competitive process and are all focused in the tourism industry, although they currently have varying levels of involvement in ecotourism.
ATTA’s team offered American perspectives and expertise in tourism and ecotourism operations for management concepts and new ideas that can be implemented in Russia. Topics addressed included marketing, management, product development, sustainability and others. The group brought varying levels of understanding of the way that the U.S. market works and the gathering offered an effective first step toward bridging gaps in understand between our countries on the adventure travel front. According to the Russian representatives, only 6-7 percent of Russia’s adventure travel business comes from U.S. travelers. During the 1990s the numbers ranged between 10-15 percent before Alaska Airlines’ direct flights to multiple locations in Russia ended, thus stunting the flow. Rebuilding interest in travel programs between the two countries are at the core of the multi-city stops.
The Ecotourism Program occurred February 4 – March 4, 2006, with the first week starting in Washington, DC, and then continuing to Seattle, Portland, and Reno/Lake Tahoe. More information on the program is available at: http://www.mac.doc.gov/sabit/group_program/ecotourism/ecotourism.html.