Shannon Stowell (left) on a recent trip to Nepal // © 2015 Mindy Poder
Adventure travel has really come into its own. How does that make you feel?
I’m really happy with the growth, but also cautious. As an industry, we need to raise the bar and develop high standards. We need to shine a bright light on ourselves so that we can continue to be a trustworthy industry.
The Adventure Travel World Summit in Chile recently concluded. Did anything stand out to you?
I’m excited that the message of “revolucion” seems to be resonating with a lot of our members. In its simplest form, this means travel should help — not harm. It’s a model that has been proven to be able to do that, so I’m excited to see people take that seriously. How does tourism act as a symbiotic creature and not a parasitic one?
What’s your biggest concern going into 2016?
Destination management. Knowing that the number of travelers is about to increase dramatically, issues such as carrying capacity need to be taken seriously. Destinations are beginning to go into defense mode instead of promotion mode. Take Barcelona for example — the mayor won her campaign on the platform of “taming tourism.” They feel that tourism is out of control and they want to figure out how to regulate visitors. It would be nice for destinations to be proactive and manage tourism in advance. Namibia and Bhutan are doing a great job of this.