The Adventure Travel Trade Association, perhaps the most important business organization in adventure tourism, will be having its annual conference in Chiapas, Mexico, this coming October.
Speakers will include founder of GAP Adventure and Planeterra; Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance; and Bill Richardson, former Governor of New Mexico: “Throughout my travels in the effort of diplomacy worldwide, it has become clear that connecting on a basis of a sense of place can be a lynchpin for creating peace,” explains Richardson. “Understanding of local cultural heritage and possessing a sense of adventure is paramount.”
Mexico’s hard-working Ministry of Tourism is, of course, thrilled to host the big event. “The Summit ties in directly with Mexico’s overall tourism strategy,” says Antonio del Rosal, Marketing Coordinator for Mexico´s Tourism Board. “We want to…show a side of Mexico that is even more exotic and diverse naturally and culturally.”
Chiapas, perhaps better known to older travelers as home of the nonviolent Zapatista Revolution that peaked in the mid-1990s, remains one of the safest spots in Mexico, well removed from the trafficking violence of the north. Though you can still purchase Subcomandante Marcos dolls throughout San Cristóbal de las Casas, along with famed Chiapas amber (be sure to visit the Museo de Ambár first, so you’ll know how to recognize fakes), travelers today come for the state’s incredible cultural and natural wealth.
There are dozens of amazing ecotourism destinations in the pine-covered mountains that surround Chiapas’ beautiful capital, San Cristóbal de las Casas. Hiking, whitewater rafting, camping, exploring the mangrove forests of La Encrucijada Biosphere Reserve, or just relaxing next to one of the region’s many waterfalls top the list, but there’s so much more for adventurous travelers to enjoy.
Because the region remains decidedly indigenous, there are unique cultural opportunities here as well, from the remarkable ceremonies at the Church of San Juan Chamula to the traditional communities of the Lancandon National Forest. All of these will become more popular after ATTA introduces them to the world—so think about visiting now.
You can keep up with the happenings at the 2011 Adventure Travel World Summit through its Facebook, Twitter, and RSS Feed; business owners could consider joining ATTA as a full member. Non-professional adventurers can check out their Adventure travel website for ideas and inspiration. Although tickets to the Chiapas event, limited to 600 people, are sold out, you can still put your name on the waiting list, or just show up in San Cristóbal and hope to rub elbows with adventure travel’s movers and shakers.