Adventure Travel Conservation Fund Demonstrates Growth and Continued Impact at the Adventure Travel World Summit

25 September 2023

Not even an early morning wake-up alarm in the middle of another exciting Adventure Travel World Summit could keep delegates from filling the room at the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund (ATCF) annual members breakfast meeting.

This year, more than 120 delegates gathered for the highly-anticipated announcement of the five 2023 Conservation Grantees, preview this year's ATCF conservation auction items, and hear from a ATCF grant recipient and guest speaker, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusok, Founder and CEO of Conservation Through Public Health and a National Geographic Explorer.

Founded by businesses in the adventure travel and outdoor industries, the ATCF is the adventure travel industry's nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting biodiversity and culture. The annual breakfast – now a Summit tradition – is an opportunity for members to connect in person and hear about the latest initiatives and projects the ATCF is currently working on. This year's breakfast was generously sponsored by Eagle Creek, Toad & Co, and MiiR.

ATCF Grant Winner, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Founder and CEO of Conservation Through Public Health and ATCF Board of Directors at the ATCF Annual Breakfast meeting during ATWS 2023. © ATTA / Hassen Salum

2023 Grant Recipients and Impact

For the first time, the ATCF invited one of the 2023 grant recipients to attend this year’s event and meet with ATWS delegates. Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka is the founder and CEO of Conservation Through Public Health, an award-winning NGO and nonprofit that protects endangered gorillas and other wildlife through innovative public health approaches. She shared her conservation and leadership journey, a story also told through her recently published memoir “Walking with Gorillas: The Journey of an African Wildlife Vet.” Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka was an inspiring reminder of the importance and significance of connecting with nature and protecting wild places.

“This year's ATCF breakfast was nothing short of stellar. The keynote speaker, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, had the audience from moment one,” said ATTA CEO Shannon Stowell. “Her innovation, drive to move mountains, and compassion for all drove home the message of how vitally important human-wildlife interaction is and how good, healthy adventure travel can improve lives and protect wildlife.”

Conservation Through Public Health was one of five 2023 ATCF grant recipients announced at the breakfast. Each of the community-led organizations have demonstrated unwavering dedication to safeguarding the planet's natural and cultural resources. The 2023 grant cycle increases the impact of ATCF and its members to more than $580,000 in grants with 39 communities in 28 countries around the world since its inception in 2016. 

The five $15,000 grant recipients selected by ATCF members are as follows:

ATCF 2023 Grant Winners: The 2023 grant recipients received $15,000 each for conservation projects nominated and voted by the ATCF membership base.

Looking Ahead 

As the ATCF continues to strategize and increase opportunities for impact, it has introduced Thrive, a new initiative opening the nonprofit to non-members and consumers. Thrive is an inclusive, ear-marking program in which individuals and organizations unable to join ATCF as a formal member can participate in supporting specific conservation projects.

Throughout the Summit, ATCF held a live auction through which delegates had the opportunity to bid on a ticket to the 2024 Adventure Travel World Summit. The ticket was donated by the Adventure Travel Trade Association. The winner, Raza Akhtar, also received a carbon removal package from Tomorrow’s Air and his bid contributed $2,400 to support the ATCF in the work of protecting wild places.

The live auction was a preview of the ATCF’s annual conservation travel auction, which raises significant funds to support the work of protecting the places we love. Members of the adventure travel and outdoor gear industries have generously donated more than 30 items which are available for bidding starting on World Tourism Day, 27 September, and closes on 11 October. Unique items such as a volunteer trip with Conservation Volunteers International Program to Patagonia, dedicated time with members of the ATCF Board of Directors, or Panama airfare (hello, ATWS 2024!) from CopaAirlines, are available for anyone to bid.

The ATCF auction boasts exciting adventures around the world and an assortment of valuable gear and travel-related items to support the important conservation efforts around the world.

The ATCF would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to this year's breakfast sponsors, Eagle Creek, Toad & Co, and MiiR. To support the work of conserving the places we love, please consider joining ATCF as a member. Your support enables the ATCF to generate community and protect wild places around the world in the name of conservation and the future of tourism. As a member-driven organization, 100% of membership dues going directly toward the funding international conservation projects.