Travel makes the world go round. It is both work and play, allowing people to visit new places around the globe while boosting the bottom line for those working in the sector. And as travel becomes easier and more affordable, more people are taking advantage of this accessibility.
According to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals worldwide have grown from 25 million in 1950 to nearly 1.3 billion today. Tourism represents about 10 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, and one out of 10 jobs globally falls into this sector.
Calling out the industry’s importance, the UN recognizes 27 September as
World Tourism Day. Knowing how enthusiastic Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) members are about the industry, we asked them to share their stories about working in adventure travel. Unsurprisingly, we were overwhelmed with responses from people motivated to share their passion and their job with others.
A big thank you to the ATTA members who contributed their voices to this video:
Javiera Epple, Reserva Biológica Huilo Huilo
Ngo Trong Huy, Vietnam Bike Tours
Kurt Kutay, Wildland Adventures
Camilla Nyman, Göteborg & Co
Bob Patenaude, Arizona Outdoor Adventures
Amit Sankhala, Encounters Asia
Ralph Velasco, PhotoEnrichment Adventures
Judi Wineland, Thomson Safaris
Zach Zywiak, REI Adventures
Several other members shared their stories through photography.
What keeps you excited about working in adventure travel every single day?
“The feedback from our customers keeps me excited. Such as, ‘This adventure was amazing! This was a trip of a lifetime!’” Angie Guo, China Charmission Travel © Angie Guo “I work as a product and web manager in a destination company in the northern part of Norway. For me, to work with all the fantastic suppliers and be able to sell and market world-class travel products to guests coming from all over the world is just amazing.” June Berg-Sollund, Visit Narvik © June Berg-Sollund “Adventure travel professionals know the intrinsic value of establishing a meaningful connection with colorful local characters, supporting unique artisans and chefs, and appreciating unspoiled natural vistas and the wonder of wildlife. In a world with numerous examples of formulaic vacations, adventure travel strives to spotlight authenticity, purpose, and relevance.” Irene N. Lane, Greenloons © Greenloons “When I see how far adventure tourism has come at including people from all walks of life, then I'm excited. The fact that EcoCamp is providing a chance for everyone to explore the immensity of Patagonia and experience these transformational moments for themselves is what makes it all worth it.” Helen Cordery, EcoCamp Patagonia © Timothy Dhalleine | EcoCamp Patagonia “I live for the opportunity to see the world in all sorts of exciting and different ways. Whether it’s bungee jumping in Interlaken, Switzerland, or trekking up the Inca Trail, adventure travel allows you to push your limits and create memories and feelings that will last forever.” Charlotte Filla, FROSCH © Outdoor Interlaken “What excites me about working at Quark Expeditions is seeing already well-traveled passengers come home completely transformed; feeling differently not only about travel, but how their lives impact the world around them. It’s helped us all realize that we are all just temporary custodians of an enduring polar legacy.” Innis Mason, Quark Expeditions © Christine Mason “The fascination of working as an adventure travel guide is to have nature as a common line of interaction with the people I’m guiding. I see myself as the link between my host souls and the environment. When your job is well done, the result is priceless.” Nicolas Wolaniuk, Alma Calma Expediciones © Alma Calma Expediciones “We operate a kayaking company on the British Columbia coast, an area unique because it has remained so wild. Many guests — led by expert guides passionate about what they do — are caught off-guard by the beauty of these places. Their reactions, full of awe and appreciation, make it all worthwhile!” Spirit of the West Crew, Spirit of the West Adventures © Robert McDermid “What keeps me excited about working in adventure travel every single day is knowing my work has a positive impact on the lives of the people and families that travel with us as well as on the lives of the Indigenous women and their families that work with us and live in the places we visit.” Annelies Hamerlinck, Vamos Expeditions © Annelies Hamerlinck “Knowing that adventure travel is more than just offering great, active trips; it can bridge cultures, inspire action to sustain fragile ecosystems, inspire people to be global citizens, and be a resource to pass down these beliefs and actions to future generations.” Kimberly Daley, MT Sobek © Kimberly Daley “No question. The community. Waking up each day to emails from Iceland, Bosnia, Peru, India, Morocco, and Iran. Going in to the office and hearing about your colleague’s trip to Patagonia and Iraq. Being asked to wear your Tibetan attire to the next public presentation … and knowing how to do that.“ Anne Wood, MT Sobek © Anne Wood What was the moment you knew you had to work in adventure travel?
“I loved my work, but something was missing. Finding the mountains of Orobie and the unknown trails, the villages, the locals, and the former famous San Pellegrino Terme ... I just have to let more people see and explore this beautiful area and now I am here.” Sara Grytting, Saras Italy © Sara Grytting “In 2008, I jumped ship from working for a luxury European villa company to share my energy and passion for the outdoors with HF Holidays. I couldn’t think of a better way to explore the world than working for the UK’s largest walking and activity holiday company whilst getting paid for it too!” Sarah Davis, HF Holidays © HF Holidays “When I fell in love with elephants in Thailand, I knew that adventure tourism could merge my passion for wildlife conservation and connecting women to the wonders of nature. Seeing how tourism can be a force for protecting endangered elephants is why I am dedicating my life to this work.” Jennifer Haddow, Wild Women Expeditions © James de la Cloche “As I watched the Weddell seal’s whiskers twitch from a few meters away, I was forever changed. I joined the expedition travel world shortly after that transformative trip to The Ice, and today it’s gratifying to know I’ve helped countless travelers experience the planet’s wild and pristine places for themselves!” Shelley Fry, ExpeditionTrips © Shelley Fry “My moment of realization didn’t come as an ‘aha’ moment of ‘that would be cool.’ It came as I started thinking about the impact of having a life that didn’t incorporate a constant immersion in discovery, travel, and nature would have on me as a person.” Heather Gyselman, REI Adventures. © Jim Gyselman “The first company I guided for was short staffed. Training is normally six weeks, but I had five days before leading a month-long trek through Peru. The trip went perfectly, I made great friends with the travelers and local staff, even becoming godfather to the cook’s son. I was hooked.” Justin Laycob, Southern Explorations © Southern Explorations “I didn’t choose adventure travel as much as have it thrust on me at age 11 when my parents decided to take us on a 23-day trek in Nepal. Adjusting to seeing the world in a new way was initially overwhelming, but I was transformed, and continue this lifelong pursuit!” Julie McCormack, MT Sobek © Julie McCormack “As soon as we witnessed the indisputable and meaningful impact that we could achieve in people and places. Compounded by personal passion blended with professional accomplishment, the result has life’s work-type of significance.” Felipe Umbert Olazabal, Mountain Lodges of Peru © Mountain Lodges of Peru “As a young man, I worked on a river cruise and got to witness travelers who loved nature and had their dreams come true in the Ecuadorian Amazon where they got to kayak, swim, and hike in the midst of incredible wildlife.” Raul Garcia, Advantage Travel © Advantage Travel 2018 “I trained as a sports scientist but Instead opted for adventure. On an overland truck, I traveled across the Middle East and Africa. I was hooked. A career change soon followed working as a tour leader. Today, having created Viva Expeditions, I am super happy. We now have our own overland truck touring across Patagonia!” Rachel Williams, Viva Expeditions © Rachel Williams