Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) Adventure Champions are the vanguards of the adventure travel industry, having been members of ATTA and leaders in the community for a minimum of 15 years. They are true believers in the power of adventure travel and have made an impact on the direction of ATTA and on the industry as a whole. To honor their commitment to their ethos and lasting contribution to the adventure travel industry, we are spotlighting Adventure Champions through a series of interviews.
Say Hueque Argentina Journeys
Tour Operator / DMC
ATTA Member since 2007
Introducing Rafa Mayer, Director | Founder of Say Hueque Argentina Journeys
Tell us about Say Hueque Argentina Journeys: Say Hueque is a tour operator and DMC that has been designing and operating trips in Argentina and Chile since 1999. Our style has always been to do it with focus on generating an intimate encounter with nature and local people. Patagonia ( Arg & Chile ), Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires, the wine region, Salta and Atacama are our main destinations, but we are always looking for hidden gems and new destinations in order to offer our clients the most authentic travel experience. Good planning, empathy, charming hotels + the warmest and most professional guides are the key ingredients in Say Hueque. Compensating carbon emissions, operating plastic-free trips, and committing to local communities is how we are creating a more responsible, and meaningful way of exploring this amazing part of the world.
Why have you stayed an ATTA member for 15+ years?
I attended for the first time an ATTA Summit in 2007, in Whistler, Canada, and there is where I became a "healthy addict" to this community and to this event. ATTA has always been for me a source of inspiration, a place to connect with great people, make friends, explore new places and make business connections in the best environment possible.
Year after year it was the moment of the year that I was waiting to get an insight into the new trends, new players of the industry, to listen to best practices and inspiration ideas from other tour operators (now friends) from all over the globe. I always returned from the summit with a much wider perspective, full of ideas and new business to develop. All the fun and the new friends was a very valuable "extra".
How has your company changed over the last 15 years?
Some destinations that used to be charming and magical, became more crowded, more developed and because of that, less magical. But new places emerged to feed the demand of authenticity and intimacy with nature. Patagonia is such an untouched destination, that there are so many new hidden gems to discover. And part of our fun part as tour operators is to discover where this magic is.
What is the greatest force that drives you to work every day?
Argentina and Chile offer many trips for the bucket list. Destinations that are for some once in a lifetime. So it is a real challenge for me to be aware of that huge responsibility. The reward of happy travelers is so powerful that it is enough fuel to work everyday.
What gives you hope about the next generation of adventure travel leaders?
The values and principles that we've been talking about for many years are on mainstream now.
15 years ago, concepts such as authenticity, sustainable travel, cultural immersion and the transformational power of travel were well known for us, the adventure travel industry. But now, the whole industry has those values as "the way it should be". It is a big relief, but also a big challenge for us. We as Adventure Travel Leaders should push the limits and raise the bar. Be more creative and more innovative in taking the values of authenticity, engagement with local cultures and with natural environment to a higher level. We are challenged to work harder in order to be the "artisans" of the most amazing and life-changing travel experiences. But also, we should be curators of the essence of adventure travel.
On my side, I am full of energy to keep on walking new "roads" in order to push the travel experiences to a more challenging arena. If "mainstream is here" we should be already few miles ahead exploring new ways to experience the destination and be transformed by travel. New generations are in a good scenario to take this concepts to a new phase.
What is your advice for young adventure travel companies?
More mountains, lakes and forests and less time in the office.
Inspiration is the main stone, so we must keep it in the center.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I heard this quote during the ATWS in Namibia and loved it: "The most important thing, is to keep the most important thing, as the most important thing." In this moments in which things are changing to quickly, we should be be with eyes and heart wide open to be sure that we are doing what we love.
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