Responsible Tourism Investments Powered by the 2013 Adventure Travel World Summit

12 November 2013
Ireland's Ambassador to Zambia and Namibia with Sem Shikongo, Namibia's Director of Tourism and ATTA President Shannon Stowell after the announcement of the Guide Exchange Program.

Seattle, WA – During the October 26-31, 2013 Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) in Namibia, multiple announcements of long-term investments by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and its partners – World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), Save The Rhino Trust, Power Namibia Project, Namibia Tourism Board and Tourism Ireland – were made to ensure the continuation of responsible development of the adventure tourism industry in Africa and beyond.

“The Summit this year brought the ATTA to a new level,” said Mr. Shannon Stowell, ATTA President.“ It was our first Summit in Africa and also the first Summit where we were able to dive deeply into a host destination’s adventure travel opportunities as a model for investment and implementation around the world.”

Featured presentations during the Summit included inspiring talks by: noted author Pico Iyer; Zita Cobb, visionary behind the Shorefast Foundation; Anna Pollock, strategist and developer of the concept of Conscious.Travel; and Chief Ian Campbell, Hereditary Chief of the Squamish Nation in Canada, sparked delegates’ imaginations to think differently about destinations and tourism business opportunities. Namibia’s communal conservancies were a central point of discussion and an example of how governments, local communities and private enterprise can create profitable, joint venture economic models that also place a premium on respect and protection of people and the environment.

New long-term investments by the ATTA and its partners announced during the Summit included:

  • Commitment by the ATTA to deliver a guide training program in 2014;
  • Partnership between REI and WWF on a program to deliver much needed gear, apparel and supplies to Namibia’s 500 Conservation Guards to support their efforts in protecting the country’s natural resources and wildlife;
  • Collaboration between the ATTA and WWF that will allow WWF’s conservation initiatives and adventure travel models to be more deeply integrated globally;
  • Acknowledgement and honoring of Namibia’s sustainable development work by WWF International. During the opening event in Windhoek, Chief Anyaoku, former head of WWF International, presented to Namibian President Pohamba with a Gift to the Earth, the first time a country has been recognized twice; the first time was in 1998 when Namibia had four communal conservancies and the second time in 2013 for its 79 communal conservancies;
  • Unveiling of the Power Namibia Initiative (PNI), a market-based project that will install solar power at Joint Venture Safari Lodges operating in partnership with Namibia’s communal conservancies. This is a tourism industry initiative designed to reduce carbon emissions, while at the same time addressing the issue of energy equity. The Initiative is designed to address the balance of conservation and community development by creating an opportunity for adventure tour operators and their clients to contribute to this project when visiting the country;
  • A fundraising event was held for the Save the Rhino Trust, an important conservation program created to prevent the extinction of rhinos. The ATTA also held an auction of Eagle Creek gear that raised additional funds;
Ireland’s Ambassador to Zambia and Namibia, announced that Tourism Ireland, as the host of the upcoming ATWS in 2014 will partner with Namibia Tourism Board and the ATTA to support the development of a Guide Program that will enable five Namibian guides and five Irish guides to participate in a program that will facilitate shared understanding for delivering high quality adventure experiences to a variety of guests and clients. The guides will spend time with adventure operators in both Ireland and Namibia as part of the training. The experience and outcomes will be shared at the 2014 ATWS and will form a basis for ongoing training and development within the ATTA community.

Fittingly, keynote speaker Iyer, who had not attended a previous Summit, reflected on the Summit and said, “What I hadn't expected was to meet people with such boundless energy and warmth, who could bring such a positive and forward-looking spirit to all the trials and joys of being on the road. And people with such rigor and conscience that they're ready to question themselves, and the very nature of the travel we so love, and to look long and hard at the always difficult business of turning simple adventure into something useful, practical and lasting, not least for the people we visit.”

The 10th ATWS was held in Windhoek and Swakopmund, Namibia. Through a series of featured presentations, educational workshops, and intensive networking and peer-to-peer sessions, the Summit delivered on its “imagine. inspire. invest.” theme. 650 delegates attended the Summit representing tour operators, destinations, media and industry professionals from 63 countries around the world.

In addition to fueling the collaborations and investments in conservation and environmental protection put in motion in Namibia, the ATTA recently announced that Ireland secured the bid to serve as host to the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s 2014 Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS), the adventure tourism industry’s marquee annual executive gathering, between October 6-9 in Killarney.

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