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(SEATTLE) – Entrepreneur, China native and founder of internationally acclaimed sustainable adventure tour company WildChina , Mei Zhang, today was named to the 15-member Adventure Travel Trade Association Advisory Board.
Zhang, a native of Yunnan province in southwest China, holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and worked for McKinsey & Company before creating Beijing-based Wild China, which offers distinctive, ecologically sensitive journeys in China. While consulting for The Nature Conservancy, Zhang witnessed the push and pull between economic development and conservation of both nature and culture in Yunnan. She strongly believed that there was a for-profit solution to this: providing sophisticated interpretation of Chinese culture and nature, and therefore creating experiential travel that was unheard of in China.
“The ATTA represents big and small businesses alike, and particularly for adventure tour operators, most which are small operations driven by passion, there are not a lot of other venues of associates that address their needs,” said Zhang. “Many of us face similar business challenges, such as understanding product trends and social media and addressing sustainable operations. So, with my involvement in the ATTA, I hope to contribute international and small business perspective to operators worldwide, and also possibly contribute in a way to organize small Chinese adventure travel operators.”
Zhang’s observations and passion for travel led to the creation of WildChina in 2000, based on the simple mission to assist travelers to experience China differently. Together with the current CEO Albert Ng, Zhang has transformed WildChina into an award-winning business: National Geographic Adventure – “Best Adventure Travel Company on Earth;” National Geographic Traveler – “Tours of a Lifetime;” Travel & Leisure – “A+ Agent for China.” The WildChina story has been covered by CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, TIME and more.
“Mei’s understanding of the complex opportunity for adventure travel as a vector of sustainable development, her multi-national experiences and perspectives, and her proven business acumen in creating a sustainable enterprise bring great value to our community,” said ATTA President Shannon Stowell. “Further, Mei’s ongoing commitment to raising standards in our industry, her continued support of the ATTA, and the insights she can bring concerning China, which is expected to become the fourth largest source of outbound tourism in the world, greatly enhances the increasing depth of our advisory board.”
Under Zhang’s leadership, WildChina also has established many partnerships with villages, nature reserves and non-governmental organizations in China. Frequently speaking on tourism and entrepreneurship in China, she serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. Zhang lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.
Other adventure travel industry experts committed to support the ATTA and its efforts to grow and sustain the adventure travel industry include the following Advisory Board Members:
- Richard Bangs, adventurer, entrepreneur, author, producer and director – “Richard Bangs’ Adventures with Purpose”
- Eric Brodnax, Vice President, Orbitz Worldwide – General Manager, Away.com & Outside Online
- Jeff Dossett, Chief Executive Officer, AdventureLink, Inc
- Urs Eberhard, Executive VP Markets & MICE Switzerland Tourism
- Francis X. Farrell, former publisher, Men’s Journal and National Geographic magazines
- Nicky Fitzgerald, formerly, Sales & Marketing Director, &Beyond
- Kurt Kutay, Founding Director and President of Wildland Adventures, Inc. and non-profit Travelers Conservation Trust
- Perry Lungmus, Director of Sales and Marketing, Travcoa
- Thornton May, Contributing Futurist, World Bank
- Praveen Moman, Co-founder and Managing Director of Uganda-based Volcanoes Safaris
- Helen Nodland, Founder Nodland Travel Enterprises, Chair of VAST, Virtuoso Travel Network
- Everett Potter, Author and Journalist, Contributing Editor, New York Times Syndicate, USA Today, Outside and others
- Gustavo Timo, Founder ABETA (Brazil Ecotourism and Adventure Association)
- Russell Walters, President, Northern Outdoors
Established in 1990, the Seattle-based Adventure Travel Trade Association (www.adventuretravel.biz) is a global membership organization dedicated to unifying, networking, professionalizing, promoting and responsibly growing the adventure travel market. Association embers include tour operators, destination marketing organizations, tourism boards, specialty travel agents, guides, accommodations, media and service providers. Host of the annual Adventure Travel World Summit executive trade conferences (www.adventuretravelworldsummit.com), the Adventure Travel Trade Association also makes possible www.Adventure.Travel, the traveler’s hub of physical, cultural and nature-based adventure travel and guide to trusted tour operators from around the globe.