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(SEATTLE) – The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) named the three recipients of the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Awards: Mike McDowell, George Wendt, and Buddy Bombard.  The three adventurers were chosen because of their lasting influences and inspiration they have provided to the international adventure travel community.  The Lifetime Achievement Awards were announced as part of the ATTA’s annual Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS), which was held in Seattle from October 19-21.

The purpose of the annual recognition program is to honor past and present pioneers of new routes and destinations, commercial adventure travel enterprises, responsible tourism practices, innovative partnerships, and groundbreaking consumer education and awareness initiatives in the world of adventure travel.  Pioneers are acknowledged for having created, challenged in a positive and productive way, protected, evolved and helped to enhance the overall state of the adventure travel industry.

Mike McDowell, founder of Deep Ocean Expeditions, is perhaps best known as being a man of firsts, and he’s championed some of the world’s most extraordinary adventures based upon the principles of adventure, education and science.  From dedicated efforts to making space travel and zero-gravity experiences available to the general public to exploring the ocean floor in a Russian submarine, McDowell has conceived trips that run the gamut from top-to-bottom.  Among his many firsts and record-breaking, deep sea explorations, he founded Quark Expeditions, which uses nuclear icebreakers to explore the Arctic and Antarctic, and Zero Gravity Corporation and Space Adventures, which allows adventurers to become an astronaut-for-a-day.

George Wendt is president and founder of O.A.R.S. (Outdoor Adventure River Specialists), a company that has been running the whitewater rapids of the American West for more than 30 years.  In 1969, O.A.R.S. was the first oar-powered outfitter permitted to run the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and has since recorded numerous first descents worldwide.  Wendt is known for setting gold-bar standards in whitewater rafting in North America and spearheading exceptional customer service practices.  He has also played an active role in environmental and legislative efforts linked to river activities.  In addition to pioneering trips through the Grand Canyon, O.A.R.S., recognized as the largest and most diverse river company in the West, has continued to grow on some of the wildest rivers in the American West, including the Stanislaus, American, and Tuolumne rivers in California, and the Rogue River in Oregon.

Buddy Bombard is founder of Buddy Bombard’s Europe, a sightseeing adventure company that for decades has offered travelers unprecedented birds-eye-views of European countrysides from a hot air balloon.  Buddy Bombard’s Europe, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, remains the only vacation operation of its kind in the world.  Bombard, with experience as an Air Force jet pilot, skier, scuba instructor, America’s Cup yachtsman, tour and travel entrepreneur, photographer and honored balloon pilot, is credited with opening the boundaries of adventure travel to include such diverse activities as hot air balloon adventures and horseback riding, combined with a strong sense of local community involvement and local philanthropy. Bombard pioneered many educational adventures that bridged the gap between physical adventure with progressive itineraries that integrated history, architecture, nature, culture, culinary experiences and local farming into more holistic travel experiences. Because of the bonds that Bombard has forged throughout Europe, his clients have had the privilege of having an “insider’s Europe” experience, including visits with famous vintners, castle dinners in the French countryside, and encounters with Austrian, Belgian and Italian royalty.

In evaluating Lifetime Achievement Award candidates, multiple measures are addressed including such things as:  quality of management and leadership; creation of new adventure market niches; industry-galvanizing initiatives; strategic collaboration efforts leading to innovative and lasting partnerships; introduction and advancement of responsible tourism practices (e.g., ecotourism, sustainable tourism, voluntourism); professional support, mentoring and development of others in the industry; setting of “gold bar” customer service standards; execution of business strategy and on-the-ground operations; and legacies left behind for others in the industry build upon.

The Seattle-based ATTA ( is a strategic membership organization dedicated to raising the profile of adventure travel globally. Established in 1990, the ATTA provides services, knowledge, and connections that help its members succeed in their businesses and contribute to responsible industry growth. The Adventure Travel Trade Association also is host to the annual Adventure Travel World Summit (

Media Contacts:

Chris Doyle
Director, Adventure TravelNewsTM Editor
Adventure Travel Trade Association
[email protected]

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