Travel Trade Event Success



December 3, 2021

amanda-z-davis-instagram-1127-ig-18196675168065430All of us who are passionate outdoor enthusiasts in greater Sedona feel a duty to respect and protect her natural beauty. As travel industry professionals, we were invigorated to be able to share this sense of responsibility as co-hosts with the Arizona Office of Tourism for the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s AdventureELEVATE 2021 conference held at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock November 16-18. This event convened 250 passionate and dedicated adventure tour operators, global destinations, and media from as far away as Brazil, Chile, Japan, Jordan, Norway and Panama, just to name a few, for their first gathering in two years. The significance of this is the alignment of thought on sustainable outdoor recreation. ATTA’s mission: empowering the global travel community to protect natural and cultural capital while creating economic value for their destinations. It is music to our ears in Red Rock Country and the excitement of our global tribe to be back together again was palpable.

ATTA openly acknowledges that travelers must do their part to offset their impact on the environment and the communities they visit. The nature of adventure travel sensitizes devotees to the landscapes they encounter and the peoples they meet. Adventure travelers get closer to nature and immerse themselves in local cultures by often times taking the “roads less traveled.” As a result of this awareness, ATTA is a model for responsible, regenerative tourism. I want to thank Mayor Sandy Moriarty for welcoming the group and for making a request of them to recreate responsibly. This includes respect for the land itself. I was honored to give the Land Acknowledgment to open the conference, recognizing the history and stewardship of the Hopi, Yavapai and Apache Peoples and Communities, as well as the ancient Sinagua people whose cliff dwellings are a striking reminder of the original inhabitants of our region.

In addition, ATTA is committed to climate action and offsets its staff travel and event carbon emissions. They partner with cutting-edge climate action groups such as Tomorrow’s Air, which permanently stores carbon dioxide removed from the environment by injecting it into basaltic rock, causing it to re-mineralize, or turn to stone.

ATTA also operates the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund which, thanks to generous donations, 100% of membership dues go to funding conservation projects around the world, such as habitat preservation for whales off Mexico’s Pacific coast and reintroducing native trees to deforested areas of Kenya.

What an honor it was to get to showcase Sedona for ATTA’s first live meeting since the COVID pandemic began. We arranged more than a dozen field excursions working with REI Experiences and our local partners for attendees to experience all that greater Sedona has to offer. This included a statewide familiarization tour for 20 handpicked media from around the globe who will carry back our message of responsible recreation.

Established in 1990, ATTA is the largest network of adventure travel leaders globally. Their 30,000 members include guides, tour operators, travel advisors, tourism boards, destination management organizations, outdoor educators, gear companies and travel media. Workshops focused on rebuilding adventure tourism responsibly, ethically and with an eye for innovation.

Raising ATTA’s intimate knowledge of the greater Sedona destination enabled us to start what we hope will be a long-term relationship with its global network and connected us with innovative ideas for building sustainability. I would be remiss not to acknowledge the immediate negative impact of the Omicron variant announcement on international travel over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend which brings to light how fragile the international tourism ecosystem continues to be. I appreciate the dialogue with new colleagues around destination stewardship best practices as we continue to blaze Sedona’s unique path to a balanced economic, social and environmental future.

-Candace Carr Strauss,