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Adventure Travel Trade Mission Delivers Sustainable Development Support to Jordan

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(SEATTLE, WASHINGTON) – (March 16, 2009) – In a February 2009 joint mission between the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), National Geographic ADVENTURE (NGA) magazine and sustainable adventure tourism consultancy, Xola Consulting, Jordanian tourism officials gained new perspectives on the country’s adventure tourism market potential and suggestions on sustainable development strategies to help fuel its emerging adventure tourism industry.

At the invitation of the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB), ATTA President Shannon Stowell, NGA Director of Travel, Bryan Kinkade, and Xola Consulting President Christina Heyniger, spoke on the subject of adventure tourism at the Jordan Travel Mart (JTM). The three joined a panel with Chris Johnson of Wild Jordan to deliver a perspective on adventure travel worldwide and how Jordan’s offering is an ideal match to what today’s travelers seek. In particular, the panel communicated what constitutes adventure travel and what travelers are increasingly demanding:  a combination of physical activity, exposure to the natural environment, and immersive, authentic experiences with local peoples and cultures.

Information provided by the U.S.-based group included strategies for getting an adventure market up and running; resource diagnostic and evaluation tools to support  destinations rich in cultural, natural beauty and outdoor recreation activities to better understand and responsibly develop their resources; and suggestions for crafting new adventure product itineraries. To view the presentation delivered in Jordan, click here.

Guidance provided by the group was rooted in the philosophy of sustainable development.  The team’s recommendations were informed by the adventure industry’s Adventure Tourism Development Index (ATDI), which articulates the principles of sustainable tourism development specifically for adventure markets.  The ATDI ( principles encourage markets that provide for the economic, environmental and social benefits important to individual host communities, country level tourism industry managers and travelers.

Prior to the JTM, Stowell, Kinkade and Heyniger, representing different sectors of the travel trade, took time for an exploratory mission to visit well-known destinations in southern Jordan including Wadi Rum, Petra and Aqaba, but with an adventure twist. Cycling from Petra to Wadi Rum was one of the ways the team traveled through traditional Jordanian tourist hotspots, which can be seen through an uncommon lens that allows travelers to immerse themselves into both nature and local cultures more easily. Canyoning in Zarqa Ma’in near Amman, swimming in a hot springs river and hiking in Wadi Rum rounded out their itinerary. In addition, the group spent a half-day visiting, learning and supporting staff members at the King Hussein Center for Handicapped Children, one of several organizations participating in Jordan’s emerging volunteer tourism sector.

According to the group, Jordan is an attractive destination for people interested in learning about the Middle East, which has in recent years has emerged as a region of increased interest among both U.S.-based tour operators and travelers. Adventure travel, with its focus on more in-depth explorations offers people a new, authentic and largely untapped way to experience the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

“It’s clear that Jordan has outstanding adventure tourism opportunities, and we only scratched the very surface of what’s available.  A key challenge for destination managers will be structuring development to incorporate communities and stay within the capacity limits of nature reserves,” said Heyniger.

Jordan has already taken significant steps to balancing the demands of tourism and the needs of nature conservation through the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN).  The RSCN has the stated mission of protecting Jordan’s distinct natural resources while encouraging ecotourism businesses for the benefit of local communities.  The RSCN manages nine different reserves in Jordan, each with a distinct ecosystem.

Increasingly, the ATTA, Xola and National Geographic Adventure are teaming up to offer emerging adventure destinations insights on how to tap and responsibly serve the rapidly growing niche of adventure travel. The group, representing varied, yet complementary perspectives, also are helping to raise awareness of new opportunities to adventure travelers worldwide.
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About ATTA
Established in 1990, the Seattle-based ATTA ( is a global membership organization dedicated to unifying, networking, professionalizing, promoting and responsibly growing the adventure travel market. ATTA members include tour operators, destination marketing organizations, tourism boards, specialty travel agents, guides, accommodations, media and service providers. The ATTA presents, an expansive consumers directory to global adventure travel resources, destinations and operators, as well as the annual Adventure Travel World Summit executive conferences (

About National Geographic ADVENTURE
National Geographic ADVENTURE magazine is the ultimate guide to the adventure lifestyle. It serves and inspires people who have a passion for travel and the outdoors, enjoy challenging themselves mentally and physically, and are interested in learning about the cultural and natural resources that make each destination unique. ADVENTURE delivers a compelling mix of award-winning adventure travel journalism, dramatic photography, and useful personal service information on travel destinations, adventure sports, gear and technology, and more. Its 2.3 million readers are trendsetters in the marketplace who thrive on new experiences and lead values-driven lives. ADVENTURE is the fastest-growing magazine in both the travel and outdoor categories. Its editorial mission supports National Geographic Society’s corporate global mission to inspire people to care about the planet.

About Xola Consulting, Inc.
Xola Consulting, Inc. ( is a consulting and research services firm assisting tour operators, tourism boards and non-profit organizations with sustainable adventure tourism destination and product development, marketing and research. The Xola team is made up of consultants who, in addition to having consulting industry expertise, are also unique in that many of them have owned, operated or guided for adventure travel companies.  Xola also provides Off the Radar ( a newsletter and website providing travelers with information about the best adventure operators around the world – those who provide guests with a genuine, personal experience; who believe in sustainable, environmentally sensitive travel; and who believe in incorporating the local people and traditions of the places where they operate.

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