While World Travel Mart actually represents the overall travel and leisure markets, it was ATTA’s observation that adventure travel imagery and messaging (e.g., around sustainability, conservation, physical, cultural and nature-based adventure) overwhelmed the entire show floor, regardless of the geographic destination. Such emphasis on our sector’s strengths is testimony the growth of adventure travel and is sure to present ATTA Members with significant opportunity – and, it’s something we’ll monitor and report back on as with such strengths, come weaknesses and threats.
November 14th was presented as the first World Responsible Tourism Day, and the primary message delivered by Fiona Jeffrey, Chairman, World Travel Mart, was, “Responsible tourism must be placed at the heart of the boardroom.” WTM will focus on four key areas – carbon offsets, water, poverty reduction and how destinations are putting words into action with examples of responsible best practice.
Serious attention to sustainable practices was palpable during the press conference, which garnered a standing-room only audience of well over 500. The message came across as more than a political posturing and more than hyperbole. With Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Holidays dedicating ALL profit for the next decade toward sustainability issues, it’s a clear statement that mainstream travel and leisure is making strides. Just three years ago, had the event been launched then, it might’ve drawn fewer than 50 interested souls. Speakers and audience members gave a sense of our time being a cataclysmic period – that now is a pivotal moment in the history of humankind, and that travel and tourism, as one of the world’s largest industries, has the capacity, need and motivation to bring responsible tourism into the future and to, according to Jeffrey, “…restore order in the world.” We heard this same message by Earthwatch Founder Brian Rosborough during his 2007 Adventure Travel World Summit speech (Click here to listen).
In addition to attending research and sustainability press events, the four fast-paced days on the floor of World Travel Mart revolved around tapping into world travel and tourism issues and discussions of the day, to build upon relationships with existing partners and develop new business, and to represent the interests of the adventure travel community with industry influencers. ATTA met with tourism boards and/or DMOs representing the following countries/regions: Mongolia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Tanzania, Cambodia, and South Africa, plus the marketing personnel who cover the Central America region.
ATTA also met with tour operators and/or associations representing India (India Adventure Tour Operator Association), Uganda, Rwanda, Africa (Africa Travel and Tourism Association), Turkey (Association of Turkish Travel Agencies) and Peru. Additional meetings were held with international media, conservation and sustainability groups and adventure travel industry technology providers.
Tangible results which emanate from these productive meetings will be reported in subsequent issues of AdventureTravelNews™.