The Adventure Travel Trade Association’s (ATTA) popular AdventureEDU program returned to Tuscany, Italy, this spring with not one, but two, highly interactive sessions in the towns of Lucca (21-22 May) and Grosseto (24-25 May). Building upon last year’s successful delivery of AdventureEDU in Florence and AdventureWeek Tuscany, the ATTA designed May’s training program to further improve the quality, product diversity, and marketability of Tuscany’s adventure tourism businesses and guides.
During the two AdventureEDU trainings hosted by Toscana Promozione Turistica, more than 50 participants had an opportunity to learn from highly regarded industry professionals. Jack Delf of Black Mountain Montenegro and Mike Brcic of Sacred Rides, both experienced practitioners with a proven record of owning and managing their own adventure travel businesses, brought a wealth of first-hand knowledge and proven practical tips.
Each of the two training sessions, both of which contained the same material, were two days long and exposed Tuscany’s tour operators to the cutting-edge trends shaping the industry’s near future, fundamental principles for designing experiences that make travelers want to come back, and effective tactics for building profitable relationships with international partners. Through interactive and hands-on activities, participants practiced specific skills and developed solutions they can apply to their businesses right away.
Drawing on his personal experiences of running an adventure travel company in Montenegro and using authentic scenarios, Delf helped participants identify key attributes of an excellent adventure travel trip, appraise Tuscany’s current product, and identify opportunities for improvement. Brcic also offered concrete examples and tactics on how to build relationships across the robust travel industry and develop the specific skill set necessary for adventure companies to achieve success on the international trade market. Throughout the sessions and practical exercises, both Delf and Brcic emphasized the benefits of partnering with other local tourism companies.
Participants coming from all corners of Tuscany eagerly explored real-life examples, searched for solutions, and gained new insights on how to positively impact their own business situations. However, they were even more pleased with the opportunity to network and share (often very similar) challenges with one another. Many left feeling inspired, realizing the unexpressed potential of their neighbors and the advantages of cooperation. Their experiences and feedback proved, yet again, the value of AdventureEDU trainings in building enthusiasm and connections within the local community.
Brcic shared a similar sentiment and summarized the prevailing feelings after the two sessions. “Tuscany represented my fourth EDU training, and I’m always struck by the magic that happens when we convene members of the adventure travel community,” he said. “In each of the trainings I’ve delivered, people came for learning but left with something even more powerful: a sense of community and a sense of belonging. I’m excited to see what the future holds for adventure travel in Tuscany.”
Equally excited about the future of Tuscany is the region’s governing tourism body, Toscana Promozione Turistica, a leader among tourism organizations that recognized early the importance and benefit of responsible and sustainable tourism. “Thanks to the collaboration with the ATTA, we are writing a new story of Tuscany, which will allow 21st-century travelers to discover all the richness of our land — the richness of an authentic Tuscany outside the mainstream of tourism,” said Alberto Peruzzini, head of Toscana Promozione Turistica.
Tuscany joined the ATTA as a member in 2012. Since then, Toscana Promozione Turistica has worked to reposition the region to promote its wide diversity of activities, cultural attractions, and nature experiences. Investments in training industry professionals and hosting AdventureWeek and the upcoming Adventure Travel World Summit are part of the destination’s Tuscany Adventure Times project.
“In addition to Florence and Michelangelo’s David, there is much to tell. There is the Tuscany of slow and sustainable tourism, of small hamlets and outdoor and active tourism,” Peruzzini said. “The Tuscany Adventure Times project, which we are developing with the support of the ATTA, allows us to do all of this. It allows us to reinterpret our region through new itineraries that emerge from the banality of the stereotype; it makes us work with the territories and grow together in a harmonious and respectful manner in the true essence of the Tuscan lifestyle.”
The two recent AdventureEDU trainings are the latest examples of the joint vision shared by the ATTA and Toscana Promozione Turistica focused on developing responsible adventure tourism. Together with last year’s session in Florence, more than 100 local public and private sector stakeholders have now attended the ATTA’s progressive AdventureEDU program. These industry professionals will be champions of their region in the years to come, leading Tuscany toward a sustainable and successful future.
These AdventureEDU sessions in Lucca and Grosseto also served as the final preparation for local businesses in advance of the sold-out Summit, which will be held in Montecatini Terme 15-18 October. The Summit, which draws hundreds of industry professionals and members of the media from around the globe, promises to further differentiate Tuscany as a leading adventure travel destination.
The ATTA looks forward to continuing its collaboration with Tuscany in the years ahead as the region develops into a vibrant destination worthy of international attention.