AdventureNEXT Balkans in Macedonia Inspires Regional Responsible Tourism Development

17 May 2016

ATTA’s AdventureNEXT team of storytellers was hard at work filming and editing behind the scenes to produce a video to show during the closing plenary session in Ohrid, Macedonia on May 12th, 2016.

Seattle, WA – In Ohrid, Macedonia, last week nearly 300 representatives from more than 30 destinations worldwide – including 12 destinations throughout southeastern Europe – gathered for AdventureNEXT Balkans, a first-of-its kind greater Balkan Peninsula tourism conference where attendees explored and pursued new courses of action to stimulate short- and long-term responsible tourism development.

Local band playing at the final cocktail
Local band playing at the final cocktail. © ATTA / Lukasz Warzecha

Led by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and hosted by destination partner Macedonia (The Agency for Promotion and Support of Tourism in Macedonia), the adventure tourism conference placed specialized focus on Southeast Europe destinations, including Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey. The intent of the international gathering was to gain momentum for a progressive form of tourism that leaves positive local economic benefit throughout the region, all while helping to protect, preserve and thoughtfully expose its vast culture and natural richness to high value global travelers.

“In more than a dozen years in collaborating with destinations worldwide, our AdventureNEXT Balkans experience for me ranks among one of the most gratifying,” said ATTA Executive Director-Europe Chris Doyle. “Nearly 300 delegates witnessed true change occurring right before their eyes, where borders seemed to melt away, friendships and business relationships blossomed and sights shifted toward a future of healthy competition, collaboration and commitment to building a positive responsible tourism legacy.”

In addition to eight of the 12 southeastern Europe destinations having both public and private sector representation at AdventureNEXT, key stakeholder groups throughout the tourism supply chain attended, including: tour operators, guides, accommodations, transportation, tourism boards, development agencies and ministries of economy, trade and tourism.

Rallying around the AdventureNEXT conference theme, “Learn. Partner. Grow.”, attendees used the gathering as a platform for awareness building, discovery, collaboration, business development, inspiration and long-range planning. The agenda featured regional experts from Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia coupled with international experts from Europe and North America.

Delegates meeting at the "Meet Me" sign in order to find scheduled meetings
Delegates meeting at the "Meet Me" sign in order to find scheduled meetings. © ATTA / Lukasz Warzecha

Ahead of the actual May 11 - 12 conference days, more than 50 international operators and travel journalists representing 17 adventure traveler source markets explored Macedonia, Kosovo, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania on seven unique multi-day itineraries. To kick off the actual conference days, more than 20 local adventure companies hosted more than 150 AdventureNEXT delegates who explored and sampled the progressive adventure tourism product throughout the greater Ohrid area.

”AdventureNEXT will turn out to be one of those defining moments when we put outdoor adventure in the Balkans on the world tourism map,” said Thierry Joubert, Via Dinarica Alliance member. “Not only did many international buyers visit the region, but most importantly they were hosted by a great group of regional outdoor adventure suppliers. We now have a solid base to take outdoor adventure to the next level.”

In addition to a vote of confidence from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which presented to the delegation, the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) has also recognized the event as important and held their bi-annual Tourism Expert Group Meeting during AdventureNEXT. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation were also key development partners of the event, both of which are stimulating local economic growth and small business expansion through the development of adventure travel.

ATTA Advisory Board Member Paul Easto and colleague Myles Farnbank speaking about customer experiences
ATTA Advisory Board Member Paul Easto and colleague Myles Farnbank speaking about customer experiences. © ATTA / Lukasz Warzecha

AdventureNEXT key partners include: Macedonia, Turkish Airlines, Kosovo and Ohrid Municipality. Destination Showcase Partners include: include the Croatia National Tourism Board, Visit Meteora DMC, Bulgaria (Represented by Odysseia-In), Prilep Municipality, Macedonia and Kosovo.

The ATTA will continue to hold AdventureNEXT events in regions around the globe to continue the collaborative process and provide the education needed for the long term development of responsible adventure travel.

About Adventure Travel Trade Association

Established in 1990, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) serves over 1,100 members in 90 countries worldwide. Members predominantly include tour operators, tourism boards, specialty agents and accommodations with a vested interest in the sustainable development of adventure tourism. The ATTA delivers solutions and connections that propel members towards their business goals and the industry toward a responsible and profitable future. Through its regional AdventureConnect events and annual Adventure Travel World Summit trade conference, the ATTA excels in professional learning, networking and partnering services. With expertise in research, education, adventure travel industry news and promotion, members of the ATTA receive competitive opportunities that help establish them as leaders in adventure tourism.

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