Does Adventure Travel Matter?


a guest blog by Lauren Hefferon

Reflections on the 2009 Adventure Travel World Summit by Lauren Hefferon, Ciclismo Classico Founder & Director

As I was walking my 6-year old to school down very busy Massachusetts Avenue he remarked at the car fumes and quietly said “You know mom, I don’t think there is much we can do about global warming.” Whoaaa! Simultaneously I was concerned yet curious that a young child could already sense the precarious state of the world and feel so hopeless. Later that day I had the same concerns expressed to me by an elderly woman who was similarly concerned about the demise of the planet she had seen in her lifetime and the serious environmental issues that her 20 grandchildren would face.

My retort to these two voices representing a complete generational spectrum was the same: We cannot be optimistic or pessimistic, we must be determined to make a difference. I heard this powerful nugget of wisdom at the conclusion of a troubling yet call-to-action talk about biodiversity, erosion,and climate change by Astrophysicist Hubert Reeves at the annual Adventure Travel World Summit held in Quebec this October. Hosted annually by the Adventure Travel Trade Association, the  Summit is a powerful, creative, exciting, productive gathering. The Summit brings together diverse facets of the industry to network, collaborate, and learn. Attendees are enabled to effectively and readily tap into the burgeoning potential of adventure travel.

Dr. Reeves was one of many inspiring keynote scholars, environmentalists, and business gurus addressing 500 delegates from the adventure travel industry. Their collective message really hit home for each of us: Adventure Travel Matters.

This was the main point of Adventure Travel Trade Association President Shannon Stowell’s “state of the industry” address. Adventure travel companies like Ciclismo Classico create situations in which travelers experience transformation, discovery, cultural engagement and the miraculous web of life. We share with our clients our passion, wisdom, and experiences that can change beliefs and the way we all interact with the planet. But Shannon asked, do we as an industry matter? How would it be different if we were absent? His answer was a resounding yes, adventure travel matters now more now than ever before for three major reasons:

  • We are one of the few industries that intrinsically can achieve the “triple bottom line” goal of people, planet and profit
  • Because we are one of the few industries that deals in transformation - we create advocates not just repeat customers
  • More than ever, travelers are interested in the authentic and real; and interest in adventure travel is surging worldwide


Having attended many of these summits and adventure conferences over the years, at this year’s summit I felt more empowered than ever. Whether it was Jeff Dossett, CEO of Adventurelink.com sharing his midlife Mt. Climbing epiphany which lead to him becoming the 3rd Canadian in history to complete the “Seven Summits,” or Dr. Wallace Nichols from the California Academy of Sciences whose life long love of turtles and the sea led him to passionately promote his (r)evolution that is helping save the planet and is making a difference; the message rang loud and clear: as leaders in adventure travel interacting with literally millions of travelers annually, we are making a difference in the way people are experiencing the world’s most precious resources.

Adventure travel companies (and their guests and stakeholders) have an crucial role to play and we at Ciclismo Classico hope you play it boldly. Together we represent millions and millions of consumers worldwide. Bicycle tour companies, eco-lodges, adventure operators, outfitters, safari companies, rafting companies, diving companies, walking tours… the list goes on and on. But we know instinctively that as a group we do impact millions of people in nearly every region on the planet with what we do.

We whole-heartedly embrace the clear vision of the Adventure Travel Trade Association. Ciclismo Classico is proud to be a part of a thriving community of responsible organizations who transform customers and businesses alike into advocates for sustainability and justice worldwide. And like Dr. Reeves said convincingly, “Let us not be optimistic or pessimistic, but to be determined to make a change.”

As you make your travel plans for next year, we applaud your decision to tread more lightly on the planet and to take a bicycle tour with Ciclismo Classico or a fellow member of the Adventure Travel Trade Association. While the economics of the time might dictate otherwise, simplifying our lives by leaving all our stuff behind and interacting with the world by bike might just be the panacea many of us need to grow and create a new reality. As a tribe of travelers let’s be determined together to make difference.

 

Director and CEB (Chief Executive Biker) Lauren Hefferon founded Ciclismo Classico in 1988 with a dream to combine a passion for her bicycling, her Italian roots, visual arts and outdoor education. After graduating in anthropology from Cornell, she studied fine arts in Florence and cycled over 35,000 miles throughout Europe.

Mamma to Lorenzo, Valentina and Luca Dante, she drives all visionary aspects of Ciclismo Classico, from itinerary design and tour leader training to marketing and company strategy. A devoted cycling promoter, Laurens life and politics revolve around her two-wheeled activities.

Commuting everywhere by bike, she supports cycling causes, such as Rails to Trails, Bikes Belong, Pan Mass Challenge and Mass Bike.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".