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(SEATTLE) – January, 2006 – The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) today named Leo Le Bon the recipient of the industry’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. Le Bon, often referred to as the “father of adventure travel,” is well-known as one of the most influential trailblazers in the industry.
“Leo’s decades of dedication to the growth of adventure travel made him a natural choice for our first ever Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Chris Doyle, Director of the ATTA. “Every aspect of the industry he has influenced, from partnership development to responsible tourism, has set a standard that has been adopted by adventure travel companies around the world.”
Le Bon has spent the past 45 years circling the globe and shaping the adventure travel industry into one of the most desired travel options available. He began in the 1960s at Thomas Cook & Sons, where he was one of the first travel professionals to design outdoor, adventure-based travels for the Sierra Club and led groups on the club’s first international outings to South America and Europe. In 1967, he led the first commercial trek to Nepal, in what would become one of the world’s most desired adventure travel destinations. Le Bon went on to found Mountain Travel Inc. in 1969, today known as Mountain Travel Sobek.
“There’s a special kind of worldly awareness you learn when you step out on the road that is less traveled,” said Le Bon. “Whether it’s trekking in Nepal or dog-sledding across Greenland, adventure travel connects us to the world in a way that other travel simply cannot reach.”
Since the early days of Mountain Travel Sobek, Le Bon has literally been around the world and back. Le Bon was instrumental in making adventurous expeditions accessible to recreational travelers, including foot safaris in Kenya and camel treks in Algeria. Over the years, Le Bon has trekked every major mountain range, crossed continents dozens of times and collected hundreds of stamps in his passport. On nearly every trip, he’s taken other adventure travelers along for the ride.
“When Leo joined me to wander around Costa Rica in 1979, he saw the potential before anybody else,” said Michael Kaye, president of Costa Rica Expeditions. “In national park guard stations and then later in his office in Albany, Leo helped devise a marketing strategy that has stood the test of time.”
Though he is technically retired, Le Bon’s unrelenting commitment to the growth of adventure travel carries on with his strategic and marketing adventure travel consulting firm, Wanderlust Consulting (www.wanderlustconsulting.com). Here he takes on a professional development role, helping ensure that even more adventure travel companies can realize growth and succeed.
Le Bon was recognized by NEWSWEEK in 1989 as one of the 25 prominent American innovators in the U.S. for transforming his vision of adventure travel into a possible option for travelers seeking original adventures. He is the author of three mountaineering and adventure travel books and has been the focus of several magazine and newspaper stories.
The ATTA’s Lifetime Achievement Award will recognize one person annually within the adventure travel industry whose professional achievements have fueled growth for the industry as a whole. Beginning in the fall of 2006, leaders across all categories of adventure travel also will be recognized with an ATTA Pioneer of Adventure Travel Award.
Seattle-based ATTA (www.adventuretravel.biz) is a strategic membership organization dedicated to raising the profile of adventure travel globally. The ATTA, established in 1990, provides valuable services, knowledge, and connections that help ATTA members succeed in their businesses, thereby helping the industry grow.
Chris Doyle, ATTA Director