Attending Ireland’s Association for Adventure Tourism Conference (IAAT)

Carina Conyngham is just back from two day IAAT Conference, the biggest gathering of people involved in adventure tourism held in Ireland. It took place last week at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Co. Down and Carina was a key part of events, as part of a sustainability panel discussion on a topic which is very close to her (and our) heart. Carina is also a board member of IAAT and keen to see more businesses engage in sustainable and responsible tourism.

It was a practical discussion on how the adventure activity sector can contribute and take advantage of Ireland becoming a world leader in sustainable, responsible tourism. Rock Farm has been a leader in sustainable tourism since its inception almost ten years ago. Carina is passionately committed to sustainability and studied Energy Management and Environmental Technology at university. She has brought all her knowledge to developing Rock Farm Slane as an organic farm and ecotourism destination and was inspirational in sharing this with the packed room. Also on the panel were Ron Rankin who is MD of Vagabond Tours/Sustainable Travel Ireland and Lorcan McBride, Director of Far and Wide who lead sustainable eco-tourism and adventure tours.

Carina shared her practical experience of setting up Rock Farm explaining about our straw bale houses and how they were sustainably constructed. She emphasised how important it is to build a team from the start focused on building a sustainable business from the ground – it’s not lip service at Rock Farm, it is something we all genuinely believe in and make part of everything we do. As Carina put it, “Firstly, we need to think about the survival of the planet and then how businesses can be both sustainable and profitable’.

The keynote speaker was extreme adventurer Damian Brown who has just completed an extraordinary solo row from New York to Ireland, will deliver the keynote. As well as being a very active adventurer, he touched on key themes such as resilience, positive mental health, and indeed, the true spirit of adventure! He was formerly a professional rugby player, has climbed Mount Everest and rowed solo from Canary Islands to Antigua. A true inspiration.

The conference also included a full day of activities from hiking, cycling, kayaking, SUP and foraging in the Mourne Mountains.

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