The Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) kicked off Monday in Japan’s northern-most island, marking the first time the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) event has been hosted in Asia.
Some 800 travel professionals, including national and local tour operators, destination management representations and thought leaders, joined a Day of Adventure on the first day of the four-day event. Each of the adventures were designed to introduce the best Hokkaido has to offer in adventure activities. Options ranged from hiking the indigenous Ainu people’s Mountain of God and rafting on the Shiribetsu River to farming, exploring Daisetsuzan National Park and making traditional Ainu crafts.
Under the summit theme of chowa (harmony), the ATTA plans to showcase the potential of Hokkaido for adventure travel, defined as a trip that includes at least two of the characteristics of physical activity, interaction with nature and cultural learning or exchange.
“Hokkaido was one of the first destinations within Japan to attend an ATTA event, and to be inspired by the potential that adventure travel could bring to the destination, beyond it being seen as a snow and ski destination. And indeed, there is so much adventure in Hokkaido – from hiking to kayaking, learning more about local Ainu culture to indulging in the fabulous food here,” Hannah Pearson, regional director – APAC, of the ATTA, told TTG Asia.
“Holding ATWS has really been a rallying call for adventure travel in Japan,” she added, noting that other prefectures have been motivated by the attention that Hokkaido and the Japan National Tourism Organization have given to adventure travel and hosting ATWS, and see how it could help address the challenges they are facing, such as overtourism.
“I think we can expect to see more adventure travel options throughout the country, as demand grows from both the international community, and tour operators themselves want to get more involved in adventure travel,” Pearson concluded.