Adventure Travel World Summit Virtual 2021: Rebirth, Rebuilding, and a Reason for Being

17 August 2021

The adventure travel industry’s most eagerly anticipated annual event, the Adventure Travel World Summit, will recommence next month, 20-24 September 2021, virtually. This global gathering is hosted by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) in partnership with a unique adventure destination each year. The Summit has been held in 13 different countries over 15 consecutive years until the pandemic disruptions of 2020. The ATTA will resume its highest attended event with host destination Hokkaido, Japan through a new virtual event experience.   


The Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) is an opportunity for tour operators, adventure travel writers and influencers, tourism boards, gear brands, and companies serving the adventure travel industry to make business connections, learn from big-name keynote speakers, and collaborate with peers on pressing topics. After hosting numerous virtual events over the past year, the ATTA has continually worked to fine-tune the delegate experience in preparation for Summit 2021. “While we hoped the Summit would be in-person, we always knew there was a possibility this event could be held virtually. Our team is working diligently to make sure we have the best virtual event platform to host some of our mainstay Summit experiences like Marketplace, MediaConnect, and Pre-Summit Adventures in our incredible host destination, Hokkaido, Japan,” said Shannon Stowell, CEO of the ATTA. 

The Adventure Travel World Summit not only brings industry leaders together to build business connections, it also serves as a platform to advance shared values and a vision for a more sustainable future; this mission is reflected in this year’s event theme “Kyōsei” (pronounced “Ki-YO-say”). Kyōsei is the Japanese term meaning ‘symbiosis’ or two elements living in harmony and mutually benefitting one another. For thousands of years the Ainu people, indigenous caretakers of Hokkaido, have embodied Kyōsei by preserving their homeland as a place where nature is valued and species are revered and respected. Delegates will see this concept reflected in educational opportunities, community conversations and virtual adventures throughout the four-day event.

While this past year was unquestionably challenging, it also offered surprising industry insights and illuminated a pivotal point in tourism—an opportunity for rebirth and rebuilding. The core values and collective goals of the adventure travel industry are at the center of rebuilding for the entire travel and tourism industry. Many of the event’s educational opportunities are constructed around these collective goals and adventure travel’s core value of being in harmony with nature. Plenary (keynote) sessions include Our Nature; Tomorrow’s Travel; Human Connections Around the World; Passionate People; and Food, Earth, Happiness. Community roundtables will also focus on practical, concrete ways of practicing Kyōsei in business. 

World Summit delegates can expect actionable industry insights, constructive business tips, and timely discussions that are instrumental for business growth and resilience. Concurrent (breakout) sessions will dive into topics like Equitable and Ethical Storytelling, Vaccines and COVID-Safe Travel, Bringing About a Carbon-Free Travel Future, Using Data to Transform Travel Experiences, Community Tourism, Spotlight on Domestic Travel, New Traveler Behaviors & Expectations, Values-Driven Businesses, and Sustainability. Most sessions will enable presenters and audience members to interact in order to share knowledge, network, and engage, and all sessions will be repeated in order to reach a wide array of global time zones.

© ATTA / Rupert Shanks

While many already know there is something special about Japan, this year’s virtual Summit is an invitation to get insider tips and industry information about Japan’s adventure offerings and natural wonders. With hosts from Hokkaido as personal guides, delegates will learn about Japanese culture and heritage in sessions like Celebrating Japan, Chado: The Way of Tea, and a short film screening of Final Straw: Food, Earth, Happiness. In addition, the ATTA storytelling team is collaborating with film crews across Japan to film eight stunning virtual adventures.

The ATTA plans to bring the Japan experience to delegates in a whole new way. A few adventures delegates will get to experience include trekking on Mt Fuji, learning about Ainu indigenous traditions and handicrafts, and seeing hidden temples and cycling paths. "For years the ATTA has been working with Japan’s adventure travel stakeholders to develop their rightful place in the global industry. We are delighted to be able to bring the treasures - natural, cultural, and culinary - to the global adventure travel community, and we are excited to offer this virtual entré into this adventure wonderland," said Jake Finifrock, ATTA's Regional Director, Asia.

© ATTA / Rupert Shanks

The Adventure Travel World Summit will take place over four days with global time zones in mind, as outlined in the event agenda. Keynote sessions will be shared twice a day and depending on the time zone, delegates will participate in live breakout sessions while some will watch recordings of those sessions. Additional meetings between delegates can be scheduled and held around the clock for the duration of the event. All delegates will have access to recordings and repeated broadcasts of each plenary.  

Virtual Marketplace and MediaConnect will occur at set times for live pre-arranged meetings to take place in a variety of time zones in order to accommodate global attendance. Virtual Marketplace is an opportunity to meet with potential business partners (tour operator suppliers and buyers) while MediaConnect offers the exclusive chance to connect one-on-one with the Summit’s Official Media Delegates. This year, there are over 50+ travel journalists, editors and influencers attending Summit from 14 different countries and representing outlets like Canadian Traveler, National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Esquire, Sierra Club, Go Outside Brazil, Espaces, BBC, The Globe and Mail, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel Noire, The Guardian, Outside Magazine, Wanderlust, Newsweek, Wide Oyster Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Washington Post and more, plus numerous radio shows, regional newspapers, travel blogs, and podcasts. 

Registration is open for the Adventure Travel World Summit Virtual, 20-24 September 2021. Marketplace tables have sold out, but buyer participants can still register here. See a list of suppliers attending Marketplace in the Supplier Directory and see the Delegate List to get a sense of who else is attending.