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Summit Feedback Letter from Mexican Tour Operator Attendee

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Assistant Editor’s Note:  The ATTA received the following note from a 2011 Summit delegate, and wished to share his message. It is exactly this kind of opportunity that the ATTA team strives for in producing the annual Adventure Travel World Summit: to positively affect the individuals and organizations in this unique and treasured space.
I am a tour operator based in Mexico with a focus on creating experiences that show off Mexico’s immensely rich and little known culture.  Over the last 5 years we (tour operators in general in Mexico) have been hit by a perfect maelstrom. Swine flu cut tourism to Mexico in 2007, then the global recession and the drug war. To complicate it more, I am based in Oaxaca and in 2006 we had a massive popular strike and uprising that stifled tourism in the state for a year.
Fast forward to October 2011 and my business, Traditions Mexico, is hanging on by a thread. Or perhaps not quite that. It is immensely demoralizing to work long hours with accumulated years of experience and knowledge to only have to cancel tours, watch the bank accounts shrink and question what the hell you are doing.
One of my loyal patrons sponsored my participation in ATWS Chiapas. I thank her from the bottom of my heart. To the contrary I would not, could not have gone. I went to San Cristobal thinking this will be a make or break moment for my business.  I had never been to a summit so I did not know what to expect.
Here is what I found- ATWS was like walking into an oasis after trudging through 5 years in an ever worsening drought. There were hundreds of bright faces, hundreds of high spirits, creative people and…my peers, people like me whose work pleases them and gives back the world around. I realized that I was part of a global family, and it was a family that I was thrilled to be part of! What a fabulous group of people!
But more, through the Summit Hub and the many chance encounters at the summit proper, I found people who were interested in what I was offering, who wanted to work with Traditions Mexico to create interesting programs!  And the rain began to fall in the desert! In four days I went from looking out towards a bleak and dusty horizon and wondering how I would re-invent myself to seeing life giving rainclouds rolling in…interest, validation, like minds, enthusiasm, the reminder that what I do does have value, that what WE do is valuable. AND it is still possible to feed myself with this good work.
ATWS was truly a watershed moment for my business, and with that, for me, for we are very closely linked.  Traditions Mexico is my baby and to see it dying has been no easy thing. The new life breathed into it in Chiapas has warmed me through and through.  I walked and danced through the summit as if I were on a cloud, the lost nomad finally come to the oasis. I have described the summit as the best party I’ve been too in over a decade…it was all there, the camaraderie, the meeting of minds, the laughter, the sharing of ideas, the validation and the opportunity to, once again, turn hours of hard work into a successful business.
For those of you who put this event together, in Mexico and beyond, I want you to know how much what you have created has affected me, I want you to hear my most sincere thank you and share with you my heartfelt appreciation for this beautiful creature that you’ve created with ATTA and ATWS.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Eric Mindling
Head Honcho
Traditions Mexico Cultural Tours
Traditions Mexico Cultural Tours
Oaxaca, Mexico

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