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Taleb Rifai, Former Secretary General of UNWTO, Named Special Advisor to the Adventure Travel Trade Association

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(Seattle, Washington; September 13, 2019) – The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) is honored to announce that Taleb Rifai is joining the organization as a special advisor. Rifai, the two-term former Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), has extensive experience in developing and leading sustainable tourism models. He will assist the ATTA in its mission to empower a global travel community to deliver experiences that protect natural and cultural capital while creating shared economic value starting specifically in the MENA region.

“Mr. Rifai has served the global travel community for decades at the highest level and, during that time, exhibited incredible leadership, thoughtfulness, and care. We couldn’t be more thrilled that he chose to lend his incredible vision to the ATTA,” said Shannon Stowell, CEO of the ATTA.

Rifai served two terms as Secretary General for the UNWTO from January 2010 through December 2017. His focus in the position was on the travel and tourism industry’s contributions and responsibilities in a rapidly growing and changing global environment. Prior to his work with UNWTO, Rifai held a number of other esteemed positions, including assistant director with the International Labour Organization, several ministerial portfolios in the Government of Jordan, CEO of Jordan’s Cement Company, director of Jordan’s Economic Mission to Washington, DC, and director general of the Investment Promotion Corporation in Jordan.

As a special advisor to the ATTA, Rifai will provide guidance and vision to ATTA’s work, starting with the MENA region around the momentum created by three years of AdventureNEXT in Jordan.

“When we travel, we become part of a global movement that is a force for good that empowers people and our planet. Future travel is experience travel, and adventure is experience at its best. It is to engage totally with your surroundings. It is to keep exploring. It is within our core, our basic human nature,” Rifai said. “Adventure tourism is not simply exercise. You can do that at a gym. Adventure tourism is to be totally engulfed by your surroundings, and adventure has no age limits. At 70, I am still ready for an adventure. It is truly the future of tourism. The ATTA, therefore, represents the future of travel and tourism.”

Rifai will hold a one-of-a-kind position within the ATTA. Together with the organization’s executive team and advisory board, his deep expertise and insight will assist the ATTA and its members navigate the evolving tourism landscape as they continue to address relevant industry issues and position adventure travel as a force for good.


About Adventure Travel Trade Association

Established in 1990, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) today is widely recognized as a vital leadership voice and partner for the adventure travel industry around the world.

Membership + Trade

The membership and trade organization is designed to be a force for the industry and exists to drive thought leadership, industry promotion, and opportunities to network and convene globally to create trade and business health. It currently serves more than 1,300 member organizations in 100 countries worldwide. The constituency is made up of tour operators, tourism boards, specialty agents, and accommodations all sharing a vested interest in the sustainable development of adventure tourism.

Adventure 360 – Business Services + Events

Through its growing business services division, the ATTA delivers a portfolio of strategic solutions and a robust ecosystem of events around the globe. Those events include AdventureNEXT which focuses on regional promotion and partnerships; AdventureELEVATE a North American-based educational conference; and the premiere adventure travel global conference, the Adventure Travel World Summit. With specialized expertise in research, events, education, media, and promotion, the ATTA business service division is able to provide valuable solutions to a broad set of partners across many verticals of business.

Adventure Travel Conservation Fund

In 2016 the ATTA partnered with other leaders from the adventure travel industry to start the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund (ATCF), a nonprofit that provides funding, connections and an international spotlight on projects that protect the cultural and natural resources which underpin the adventure tourism industry. 100% of membership dues go towards funding these international projects. Each year members nominate projects, which are then vetted and finally voted upon by the ATCF membership.

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