The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) has appointed a Board of Directors, marking a shift away from the advisory board it has had for the last 18 years. The change was catalyzed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when traditional banks were slow to work with the private sector until the PPP loan program went into effect in the United States. CEO Shannon Stowell decided the best way forward was to restructure the ATTA, take on an investor, and bring in financial expertise to strengthen the company moving forward.
“The most important thing for me was to keep as much staff on board as possible to serve the ATTA community during the most significant crisis of our times, and this investment and support helped us do that,” Stowell said. “We also wanted to have a board with diverse backgrounds, skills, and experience and from different industry sectors and we’ve got it – expertise in law, entrepreneurship, destination management, tour operations, investment, marketing, sustainability, and technology which are all informed from the travel space. To be clear, we will continue to rely on advice from all the wise advisors we’ve had over the years who continue to reaffirm their commitment to ATTA and its mission.”
The Board appointments include Chunnie Wright of the Law Office of Chun T. Wright; Malia Asfour, Director of the Jordan Tourism Board, North America; Kimberly Daley, CEO of Daley & Company; Erik Blachford, Venture Investor at Blachford Capital; and Shannon Stowell, CEO of the Adventure Travel Trade Association.
“It is an honor to serve on the ATTA board of directors,” said Asfour. “I look forward to supporting the ATTA team and mission on expanding adventure and sustainable tourism practices with destinations around the globe.”
“I’m excited to join ATTA’s Board of Directors during this pivotal moment as ATTA and its members lead and shape the future of adventure travel to make it even more diverse and inclusive,” said Wright. “I look forward to working with ATTA’s incredible team and board members.”
“ATTA has long been a standard-bearer for innovative and responsible travel practices, as well as introducing and mentoring adventure companies worldwide," said Daley. "I am honored to work with this incredible group to further ATTA's initiatives to ensure that travel is a force for good for participants and regions.”
“As a long time adventure travel operator and investor, I couldn’t be more excited to take on a more formal role with ATTA, working with Shannon and the amazing ATTA team,” said Erik Blachford.
The ATTA is headed by Stowell, CEO; Casey Hanisko, President; and Gustavo Timo, Vice President of Product Development and Destination Development. Joining Hanisko and Timo on ATTA's Executive Team are Clara Short, Director of Finance; long time ATTA team member Jason Reckers, now Head of ATTA Labs; and Christina Beckmann, Head of Tomorrow's Air - these leaders are thrilled to steer the activities of the smart and ambitious global team. ATTA's company mission feels even more urgent and relevant than it was prior to the pandemic: working to ensure tourism is a force for environmental, social, and economic common good. The ATTA supports a global travel community while simultaneously protecting the natural and cultural resources that make each destination unique.
Sustainability is a key tenet of adventure travel, and while the term was used often prior to the pandemic, the future of travel heavily skews in that direction. In 2021, the World Bank and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) conducted a member survey and reported that when travel resumes, the most important anticipated market for destinations’ recovery would be Adventure/Nature-Based/Eco-Tourism. Key features of adventure travel were already well-suited to pandemic travel: small groups, outdoor activities, remote locations, immersion in nature, and companies who already focused on risk management and safety. Thus far in 2022, all signs point to a bright future for the sector.
“The fact that our annual Adventure Travel World Summit – held this year in Lugano, Switzerland – has sold out is a great indicator of the strength of the amazing ATTA community,” said Hanisko. “And of the vitality, resilience, and relevance of adventure travel as the leading sector for a more sustainable tourism industry. We look forward to connecting with our global community once again, planning for the future alongside our new esteemed board.”