Places We've Shaped

Leave No Trace’s Andrew Leary Selected by U.S. Travel and Tourism Board

Mark Eller - January 19, 2023

Photo: Leave No Trace’s Director of Sustainable Tourism Andrew Leary leading a polar expedition.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo recently announced the appointments of 32 leaders from businesses and organizations in the domestic travel and tourism industry to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. For the first time, Leave No Trace will be represented on the board, which advises on how government policies and programs affect the travel and tourism industry and offers counsel on current and emerging issues to support sustainable growth of the travel and tourism industry.

“Travel and tourism returned with force in 2022 as we opened up our country once again to visitors from around the globe,” said Secretary Raimondo. “The U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board plays a vital role in providing expert recommendations and industry insight to optimize the American travel experience. I look forward to working with new and returning members.”

Andrew Leary, the director of Leave No Trace’s Sustainable Tourism and Partnership program, will represent the organization on the board. He recently provided a brief update.

Q: What role does Leave No Trace play in the travel and tourism industry?
A:  There’s been a pronounced industry shift away from simply driving the maximum number of visitors to desirable locations — many destinations are now also thinking about how to protect the integrity of natural resources, local communities, and human interactions. Leave No Trace has a lot of experience and resources that have proven to be useful for encouraging this kind of sustainable travel experience.

Q: What is the next big opportunity for promoting responsible recreation in the travel industry?
A: Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a huge wave of enthusiasm and support for integrating Leave No Trace into destination management strategies. Developing reliable KPIs that directly relate to sustainability presents a major opportunity. For example, a traditional metric for a billboard might be that it received 10+ million impressions—but how did consumer awareness and behavior change as a result of seeing that content? Instead of only measuring the message reach, Leave No Trace is developing strategies for gauging the impact of messages on how visitors behave in natural areas. And now we have the opportunity advance those strategies through the Advisory Board and its service to the National Travel and Tourism Strategy

Q: On a personal level, what kind of travel experiences do you seek out and enjoy?
A: I’m fortunate to have experienced the outdoors in many ways throughout my life and career, but lately I’ve received the most enjoyment from seeing my three year old’s excitement in exploring a trail—just seeing what’s around the next bend, and his interest in insects. I also guide polar expeditions, which is something I’ve been involved in for over a decade.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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