New Edition of Adventure Travel Guide Standard Released: Sustainability, Safety, and Quality and Meaning at the Core

16 February 2021

After two years of work by volunteers from around the globe, the second edition of The Adventure Travel Guide Standard (ATGS) has been published by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA). A key addition to the 2nd Edition is the inclusion of the three core responsibilities of an adventure travel guide; these include: Sustainability, Safety, and Quality and Meaning. 

Specifically emphasized in the AGTS is the critical role guides play in delivering and educating about sustainability with focus on the climate emergency, preservation of biodiversity, social impacts of global tourism, and biosecurity. The latter is relevant since the bulk of the 2nd Edition was created during the COVID-19 pandemic. Safety is now called out specifically in the new edition and it highlights that a guide is responsible for delivering high-quality and meaningful experiences. The ATGS elevates the critical role adventure travel guides have in the transformative power of travel.

To create the second edition, volunteers who serve on the ATGS Governance Board compiled input from the industry, and outside expertise was tapped such as the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and animal welfare in tourism experts, ANIMONDIAL. Similar to the 1st Edition, where existing best-practices were published and available, those sources were referenced, such as the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 21101:2014 for Adventure Travel.

Since the first edition, the ATGS  has become a useful tool for academic institutions, companies, destinations and training programs. For example, the ATTA created a robust 5-day training program harnessing the ATGS that has been delivered around the globe, as well as an online education Guide Training program that can be taken virtually at any time by interested guides and travel professionals. The Guide Training program incorporates the latest changes in the 2nd edition of AGTS.

Stephen Taranto, editorial manager of the new version, adventure guide, and co-owner of operator La Paz on Foot, explains that the revision “has been an exciting process of collective intelligence and commitment focused on making the new standard better, and reflect the realities of adventure guides, adventure operators, and responsible travel around the world. When you think about it, adventure travel guides have to have an incredibly diverse skill set, and the standard is an excellent guide to doing it all professionally, safely, and with maximum positive impacts.”

 The current five core competencies in the ATGS include:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Technical Skills & First Aid
  3. Safety and Risk Management
  4. Customer Service and Group Management
  5. Natural and Cultural History Interpretation
The result is a much more robust ATGS that not only better aligns with the needs of the adventure travel industry, it also includes updated research and examples to make the text more relevant to the modern adventure travel guide. 

While the standard is not enforced or regulated by the ATTA or any other organization at this time, it has proven to be a valuable resource for elevating the quality of adventure travel guiding. Governments, destination managers, and company owners are encouraged to refer to this standard when evaluating the quality and performance of their own guides and determining appropriate training programs. Both new and experienced guides may refer to the standard as a benchmark for evaluating their own performance.

In accordance with the ATGS Governance Board, the ATGS is revised every 5 years, first by a working group of Governance Board members and then through a public consultation process. In an effort to continue to raise the safety and quality of adventure travel, the standard is available free of charge to adventure travel guides and adventure travel operators around the world.

Professional and Business Members of the Adventure Travel Trade Association interested in the Guide Training course, incorporating the Adventure Travel Guide Standard, save 40% on the registration fee.