The Adventure Travel Conservation Fund (ATCF), a new nonprofit for the travel industry, was unveiled on September 20, 2016 to a gathering of over 800 international travel operators, buyers and media.
The purpose of the ATCF is to directly fund local organizations engaged in the conservation of unique natural and cultural resources of adventure travel destinations.
“The adventure travel community has already shown how it can collaborate and make positive change in the world” said ATTA President Shannon Stowell. “I'm thrilled this new fund is taking our collective power to the next level—to have an organization for all of us that can be a powerful platform for conserving and protecting the best places on the planet in collaboration with the locals who live there.”
During the announcement, the Adventure Travel Trade Association, REI Adventures, Eagle Creek, ExOfficio and UnCruise Adventures stepped up as industry leaders to provide the first injection of funding for ATCF.
“REI Adventures is honored to be a founding member of the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund. Running our company in a manner that is socially and environmentally responsible is core to our purpose as we strive to ensure that future generations have the same opportunity to connect to the natural world,” said Cynthia Dunbar, REI Adventures General Manager. “Our stewardship ethos runs deep in our heritage and carries through all of our business practices. Nearly three-quarters of the co-op’s annual profits go back to the outdoor community and preserving outdoor places.”
The ATCF will serve as a provider of funding for international projects. This will allow grassroots organizations who have intimate knowledge of local projects and communities to be the most efficient and effective with the funds awarded. Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations will have the opportunity to receive project funding from ATCF. Types of organizations who are awarded funding may include conservation groups, indigenous people groups, tour operators, accommodations and other non-profits.
“This is a unique opportunity for our industry to come together and influence the long-term impacts that travel has on destinations around the world” said Soraya Shattuck, ATCF’s Interim Executive Director.
The adventure tourism industry is highly dependent on the conservation of the world’s natural resources, and the socioeconomic stability of local communities. And in turn, many destinations are highly dependent on tourism to provide economic reasons to protect natural and cultural resources.
“At ExOfficio we believe that the magic of travel is best experienced through interactions with different cultures, epic scenery and the thrill of the unknown” says Brian Thompson, General Manager of ExOfficio. “We also believe that we must partner with likeminded companies and individuals to ensure that the opportunity to experience the magic of travel is preserved for both today’s traveler as well as the next generation of travellers.”
The ATCF expects to announce the final selection of vetted projects during the Adventure Travel World Summit in October 2017.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be part of both the outdoor and adventure travel communities. I’ve seen firsthand the power of businesses aligning behind their shared values to bring positive change to our planet. I’m excited to be part of bringing this vision to reality.” says Steve Barker, ATCF Committee Chair. Following this, membership voting will occur to select the final projects, and funding will be awarded to recipients by the end of the year.
“For over 40 years, Eagle Creek has had a heritage aligned to the adventure travel industry and recognizes that the preservation of our natural resources is critical so that future generations can enjoy the amazing benefits of the outdoors and cultural venues", stated Roger Spatz, President of Eagle Creek. "The adventure travel industry has an obligation to take an active role in preserving the places we enjoy today, but also the countless places we don't yet know around the world.”
With five founding Adventure Leader members, the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund has an opportunity for three more industry leaders to join this exciting adventure at $25,000 per year over the next three years.
"Our adventure industry was founded on deep appreciation for the natural world. Proud and insightful cultures have known how to thrive in these last great places.” says Dan Blanchard, CEO of UnCruise Adventures. “Our businesses depend on our ability to support these vital stewards in their conservation quests. The ACTF is prepared to make a true contribution to this monumental task by throwing our collective might behind effective and decisive actions."
For more information email or visit: atconservationfund.org