The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has announced the appointment of thought leader, pioneer, teacher and ecotourism industry leader Megan Epler Wood as its Special Advisor on sustainable tourism development for destinations, business, and civil society.
“We are honoured to have Megan as PATA’s special advisor. Destination leaders across the Asia Pacific region have a keen interest in advancing their resilience and sustainability while engaging in the positive social, cultural and economic benefits delivered through travel,” said PATA CEO Liz Ortiguera. “Megan’s knowledge and expertise will be invaluable to driving progress towards a more resilient and sustainable Asia Pacific travel ecosystem. We look forward to partnering with her to support our network and the industry in this journey.”
Megan Epler Wood has dedicated her professional career of over 30 years towards the creation of professional guidelines, tools, policies, and educational resources focusing on sustainable tourism development. In 1990, she began to make her mark in the field of ecotourism by founding the first sustainable tourism non-governmental organization (NGO) in the world, The International Ecotourism Society.
After founding her NGO, she began leading her international consulting practice, EplerWood International, in 2003. There she has worked with her team on over a dozen projects in more than 35 countries fostering sustainable development, along with world renowned organizations such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank group, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), and the Inter-American Development Bank. She has consulted national governments in Latin America, Asia, and Africa on policies for sustainable tourism development, and is responsible for fostering small scale enterprise development in rural and biodiverse areas attracting tens of millions of US dollars in investment.
Commenting on the appointment, Ms Epler Wood said, “I am thrilled to be working with PATA at this pivotal time in the management of sustainable tourism. The Asia Pacific region is in an important position to take leadership by adopting the most up to date, data-oriented systems for sustainable destination and business management that lowers impacts and benefits both visitors and local people.”
Megan is currently the Managing Director of the Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program (STAMP) at Cornell University’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and the SC Johnson College of Business, a role she has held since 2017. Along with the STAMP program, which supports research on the sustainable management of tourism, she was also appointed as a lead faculty member of the Cornell On-Line Course, Sustainable Tourism Destination Management, in 2022.
Some of Megan’s most recent work includes her involvement with Harvard University, Cornell University, and the release of her widely acclaimed report “Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism.” From 2015 to 2018, she was the Director of the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative (ISTI) in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. During this time, she led Harvard researchers in the first research unit on Harvard’s campus focused entirely on sustainable tourism. The group undertook quantitative science-based applied research to assist governments and businesses with the goal of achieving positive outcomes from tourism development worldwide.