By Mark Gasta
Passionate by nature, adventure tourism at its foundation is principled. Whether it be risk management, sound ethical enterprising business practices, or cultural awareness, adventure travel leaders operate from a principle-centered mission in an attempt to be transformational, successful, and sustainable.
The most widely utilized definition of sustainability is drawn from the Brundtland Commission: “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” By definition, that which is not sustainable cannot last. Andrew Savitz and Karl Weber describe a sustainable corporation as one that creates profit for its shareholders while protecting the environment and improving the lives of those with whom it interacts.
A socially responsible approach to business leadership is needed for companies to both survive and prosper. There are significant financial and social gains for business leaders who recognize that whatever they do to the natural and cultural resources upon which their enterprises depend, they do to everyone in the global community. Further, tourism businesses have the ability to lead across traditional borders in order to demonstrate through action how to identify and develop win-win solutions. Today’s adventure travel leaders have a unique opportunity to work together and build upon their strengths to lead, create strategy, align resources, and systemically execute to do both well and good.
In the long run, thinking that one can exist without the other is short sighted. There is no margin with no mission, and the inverse is equally true. The 2017 CDP report shows 89 percent of the world’s largest companies are actively implementing sustainability plans and the MIT Sloan Management Review reported 63 percent of companies carrying out sustainability strategies were more profitable than those that were not.
Fortunately, some of the human strengths that created the current environmental crisis are the same qualities that can resolve the situation. The same innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and perseverance that helped people find cures for disease, send a person to the moon, and put most Westerners in their own personal vehicles can reverse the trends of this environmental crisis. Adventure travel business leaders are some of the most purpose-driven, experienced, passionate, committed, and capable individuals; certainly, they can develop a strategy and execute it with excellence. It is exactly these skills and capabilities that will allow the industry to lead by example and demonstrate to all industries that you can, in fact, both do well financially and good ethically.
The day for tourism leaders to play their biggest game has come. Intellectually, the large majority of the human population wants to do the right thing; the tourism practitioners of the world have a unique opportunity to lead by example and enlist others in this possibility. The adventure tourism industry is perfectly positioned to step forward and say, “Follow me.” The world is looking for that leadership, and our students in the Online Graduate Certificate in Adventure Tourism at Colorado State University are stepping through that open doorway.
- We are passionate about developing purpose-driven leaders with the capacity to build sustainable organizations that create profit for stakeholders while protecting the environment and improving the lives of those with whom they interact.
- We are committed to helping leverage tourism as a superior economic development tool and an avenue to protect and preserve wild places and threatened cultures.
- Through adventure tourism, guests are exposed to something bigger than themselves (natural environment, foreign cultures, pushing self-imposed boundaries), often resulting in introspection, self-awareness, and an expanded worldview. This personal clarity can serve as a calling for individuals to define and live a life in alignment with their personal values. It is our passion to create leaders who facilitate greater self-awareness, which will help guests also go forth and make a positive difference in their worlds.
At CSU we have a unique opportunity to help adventure tourism practitioners and entrepreneurs find a balance between doing both well financially and good ethically. We hope that you will join us on our mission.