Industry excitement is growing for the future of Japan’s nascent adventure travel industry as the Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) wraps up at Sapporo Convention Center in Hokkaido and delegates embark on post-summit adventures on the island.
In closing the four-day event, Shannon Stowell, CEO of organiser Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), said ongoing work, including education and promotion, is planned with members of the AWTS Executive Committee from Hokkaido to build on the success of the AWTS.
“We’re moving forward together,” he said, noting Hokkaido’s rich offering of the three important elements of adventure travel: culture, nature and experience.
The ATTA’s enthusiasm is mirrored by the growing interest in Japan among guides, tour operators and destinations to prepare infrastructure, skill up and forge relationships to improve the country’s adventure travel offering, added Hannah Pearson, regional director – APAC, of the ATTA.
“This summit is not the finish line; it’s about planting a flag, signalling to the community that this destination is ready to welcome adventure travellers,” she said. “Hokkaido and Japan are setting the bar very high for other destinations to follow and offering an inspiring model as adventure travel becomes more popular.”
ATWS Hokkaido Executive Committee representatives closed the event by exchanging cultural gifts with their counterparts in Panama, which will host the next AWTS over October 7 to 10 next year.
Delegates depart today on various four-day/three-night post-trip adventures in Hokkaido’s extreme north and south designed to showcase the areas’ natural habitats and their connection to the indigenous Ainu.
Tour contents include exploring the Kushiro Wetlands national park, Japan’s largest marshland; trekking around active volcano Atosanupuri and learning about Ainu culture at Lake Akan, home to marimo, a ball-shaped algae formed by wind and waves that Ainu call “lake monsters.” Due to their rarity, marimo are recognised as a National Special Natural Monument.