© ATTA / Nicolas Caram - AW Ecuador

ATTA Launches Sustainability Resource Center

21 February 2024

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Adventure Travel Trade Association under the leadership of CEO Shannon Stowell. While the ATTA existed prior to 2004, many of the organization’s signature features – from events like the annual Adventure Travel World Summit to resources like Adventure Travel News – were born of Stowell’s vision for a global adventure travel community. For the last 20 years, a key part of that vision has been an unwavering commitment to sustainable development and responsible tourism, which is now formalized as the ATTA Sustainability Resource Center.

The ATTA is committed to guiding businesses toward responsible practices, and over time has produced an abundance of content surrounding sustainability. Now, upon entering a milestone year, the ATTA has designed a platform where members and non-members can access a variety of resources on sustainability, including research reports, webinars, toolkits, and courses. 

What is the Sustainability Resource Center?

Beyond being a repository of information, the Sustainability Resource Center serves as a dynamic platform for the adventure travel community to explore and gain knowledge in sustainability. It emphasizes three guiding principles: 

  • Educating the community on urgent sustainability matters
  • Equipping individuals and organizations to take action
  • Empowering travelers to contribute to meaningful sustainable practices

In addition to centralizing ATTA’s past and future resources, this center is also the manifesto of a broader project, “Sustainability Walk the Talk Program,” through which the ATTA plans to reshape its sustainability approach and become the torchbearer for the community. 

The Sustainability Resource Center is organized by four main sections of ATTA-produced content: Research, Webinars, Toolkits and Guidelines, and Courses, followed by initiatives, opportunities for collaboration, and resources provided by our partners in sustainability.  

Where to Begin

Those new to or in the early stages of prioritizing sustainability may want to begin by downloading the sustainability checklists, available for free to all ATTA members logged into their Community, Professional, and Business accounts. These tools can be used to identify whether a business is already following sustainable practices or not, and offer helpful ideas, examples, and possible actions to take. 

For example, the “Sustainability Code of Best Practice” created by ATTA and Travelife, is a downloadable document that includes a comprehensive and easy-to-follow checklist of practices for a wide range of adventure-related activities and businesses. You’ll find everything from best practices when visiting heritage sites to how to ensure that watersports are conducted appropriately. 

Educational Resources 

Once an initial assessment is complete, we encourage a self-directed approach to our wide range of research, webinars, and courses on sustainability.

By accessing reports like "Tomorrow's Air Impact Report 2022" and participating in webinars such as "Enhancing Sustainable Adventure Travel Experiences," businesses can stay informed and equipped to make informed decisions. Online courses through AdventureEDU cover a broad spectrum of topics, from protecting animals and nature in adventure travel to the intricacies of developing self-guided tours. 

This comprehensive educational approach ensures that adventure businesses are not only aware of the need for sustainability, but are also equipped with the knowledge to put it into practice.

Partnerships and Benefits for ATTA Members

Through partnerships with organizations such as Travelife, 1% for the Planet, and the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund, the ATTA recognizes that collaboration is key to working toward a more sustainable future. 

Travelife is a leading provider of sustainability solutions. This partnership extends a lifeline to ATTA members globally, offering them free access to Travelife's comprehensive suite of online training, live webinars, workshops, and proprietary management tools.

ATTA Business Member tour operators can leverage this partnership by enjoying a complimentary Travelife Engaged membership. This membership, the first stage in Travelife's three-stage certification process, grants access to online training, webinars, workshops, and Travelife's sustainability management and reporting tools. The goal is to empower tour operators to integrate sustainability seamlessly into their operations while providing them with the tools to showcase their commitment to responsible tourism.

In the coming months, expect to hear more about 1% for the Planet, the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund, and the potential collective impact the adventure travel community can have by working together.

© ATTA / Hassen Salum - ATWS 2017

Tomorrow’s Air

Tomorrow's Air, the flagship climate initiative of ATTA, transcends traditional carbon offset programs by actively engaging in carbon removal. The initiative aims to educate, inspire, and mobilize both businesses and travelers to travel consciously, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and support technologies for carbon removal.

Individuals and businesses can participate in carbon removal by joining Tomorrow's Air through a monthly subscription or purchasing carbon removal or Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) packages. The collective emphasizes the importance of building awareness and understanding of carbon removal among travelers and travel companies. Purchases made through Tomorrow's Air not only contribute to climate-conscious travel education, but also cover administrative costs, ensuring that the initiative remains sustainable and impactful.

Tomorrow's Air distinguishes itself by going beyond traditional carbon offset programs. It operates as a for-profit social enterprise initiative managed by ATTA, and while purchases are not tax-deductible, they contribute to a tangible and lasting impact on the environment. By aligning with Tomorrow's Air, adventure businesses can demonstrate their commitment to not only reducing but actively removing carbon from the atmosphere, contributing to the fight against climate change.

Moving Forward

Tourism is evolving, and sustainability is becoming its compass. The ATTA plans to continue to develop and provide resources that serve as tools, guides, and inspiration for businesses to navigate this new landscape responsibly. 

Adventure travel doesn't have to come at the expense of the planet – if we reimagine experiences to include creative solutions and responsible choices, we can also protect ecosystems and ensure the wellbeing of local communities. By leveraging these resources, adventure travel businesses can embark on their own journey to embrace sustainability as an integral part of their entire business model.

Take Me to the Sustainability Resource Center