Spotlight on Adventure Champions: MIR

27 January 2022

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.

Tour Operator
Headquarters: United States
ATTA Member since 2005

MIR group gets up-close to the space launch facilities at Baikonur prior to witness a manned rocket launch to the ISS (International Space Station)
Introducing Douglas Grimes, President and Co-Founder
Douglas Grimes, always excited to be standing in Red Square, Moscow, Russia

Tell us about MIR: MIR has been providing meticulous made-to-measure travel experiences at the crossroads of Europe and Asia for 35 years. Since 1986, MIR has built a reputation as a pioneer in travel to destinations considered obscure, exotic, remote, difficult, and even controversial – from Siberia to Samarkand and from Tibet to Tehran and everyplace in between. MIR destination experts design imaginative trips that take travelers far from the familiar and work closely with local MIR DMC affiliates in Western Russia, Siberia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and the Republic of Georgia to carry them out. MIR has won numerous awards for print, web, and tour design.

Why have you stayed an ATTA member for 15+ years?

ATTA is one of those rare membership-based organizations that is truly in sync with its members. The leadership does an excellent job of uniting individuals representing the spectrum of adventure travel in what is in reality a highly-fragmented industry – no easy feat. The research and initiatives ATTA supports are important and relevant and we are proud to have been a member since the very start.

How has your company changed over the last 15 years? 

Since the start, MIR (the name means “peace” and “world” in Russian) has specialized in bringing people together to discover more about the world and, consequently, about themselves. We began with the U.S.S.R. and in 2022, our 35th year, we’ve expanded our scope to incorporate the crossroads of the Middle East into our destinations portfolio (including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Oman, and UAE). We continue to remain dedicated to taking travelers far from the familiar and connecting people with people at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

What is the greatest force that drives you to work every day? 

It is MIR’s mission that travel can be a path to peace, prosperity, and the building of goodwill among people around the world. Conflict among peoples and among countries continues on our planet and forging pathways to foster communication and connection is a key to potential resolution. Having our own affiliated network of DMCs in-country in Siberia, Western Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and the Republic of Georgia allows us to focus on developing as many employment opportunities as possible for locals within these communities: from guides and drivers to home hosts, musical performers, artists, and chefs.

What gives you hope about the next generation of adventure travel leaders?

Their willingness to follow in the footsteps of the pioneers of this industry – following their passion instead of, for example, taking a high-paying tech job – and their belief that they have something to share that will improve it.

What is your advice for young adventure travel companies? 

Become very well versed in the complete operational landscape of this type of business, including all the not-so-fun parts of it: legal, compliance, financial. That will form a solid foundation that will serve you well day-to-day and allow you to focus progressively on the more 'romantic' aspects of the business, such as product development, marketing, and sales.

What gets you excited about the future of adventure travel?

That travelers are increasingly in search of 'new-to-them' destinations with an appetite to discover. And to do so with an open-minded approach to travel, in particular, toward places which historically may have been off-limits (or perceived as such).

Is there anything else you would like to say?

Many thanks to Shannon and everyone at ATTA for their ongoing support of our industry. ATTA is the real champion of the story here.

Connect with MIR:

MIR group in Ulan Ude, Buryatia region of Siberia, Russia in front of the world’s largest Lenin head statue. Photo Credit: Helge Pederson
MIR group on frozen Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia – a unique way to sip the local vodka from a frozen ice cup! Photo Credit: Douglas Grimes
Bedouin on camelback in the Tabuk region of Saudi Arabia. Photo Credit: Douglas Grimes
Learning about falconry in Saudi Arabia’s northern Tabuk region. Photo Credit: Douglas Grimes
A special custom group paying tribute to Yuri Gagarin, Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: Douglas Grimes
Douglas Grimes with Russian cosmonaut leading up to the manned Soyuz rocket launch from Baikonur to the ISS (International Space Station). Photo Credit: Douglas Grimes
Admiring the ancient works of the Nabateans at Al Ula, Saudi Arabia. Photo Credit: MIR Corporation
Douglas Grimes experiences a Zero-G flight at Russia’s Star City. Photo Credit: Douglas Grimes
Designing new adventures in Saudi Arabia. Photo Credit: Douglas Grimes