The world’s largest B Corp travel company has introduced 42 new, low-carbon alternative tours. The move is part of a wider decarbonization plan that includes removing all flights under 90 minutes from the top 50 trips, where possible, by the end of 2022.
Intrepid Travel, the world’s leading sustainable tour operator, has reimagined its product line during its post-COVID rebuild to incorporate both new and amended itineraries with lower carbon footprints.
Intrepid has been carbon neutral since 2010; in October 2020, it became the world’s first tour operator with verified science-based climate targets, operating in line with the 1.5°C future deemed necessary by the IPCC in 2019. As part of its decarbonization work in the last year alone, Intrepid has introduced over 40 low-carbon alternative tours — including closer-to-home adventures, and walking and cycling trips in the US, UK and Australia. The tour operator is also switching out carbon-intensive inclusions for more sustainable activities on a number of its tours, each of which provides an added benefit of further enriching the overall trip experience. And in July, Intrepid released an open-source guide for carbon reduction and offsetting for tourism businesses, to encourage the industry at large to rebuild more sustainably post-pandemic.
“While reducing our carbon footprint has been a priority of our company for years, decarbonization is becoming increasingly central in our product design now. As an industry, we must look beyond offsetting, advocacy and administrative ‘green’ practices to focus on where we can have the most positive impact — our trips,” said Intrepid CEO James Thornton. “Since the pandemic began, we’ve been passionately talking about the need for the travel industry to rebuild itself more responsibly. Now, we’re taking action.”
Intrepid continues to reduce emissions across its operations and trips, replacing transportation options on many of its itineraries to lower-carbon alternatives. Intrepid’s decarbonization plan will include removing flights of 90 minutes or less from its top 50 itineraries by 2022. For example, Intrepid has traded internal flights for high-speed rail on the majority of its trips in China — and continues to make similar changes elsewhere, whenever there is a feasible land, water or road alternative available.
During the past year, Intrepid has increased its portfolio of walking- and cycling-based trips, recognizing that they are some of the lowest carbon-output trip styles — while also being in high demand, as travelers seek active, outdoor adventures following months of indoor quarantining.
The pandemic accelerated the company’s focus on more travel options closer to home in its major source markets of Australia, the UK and the US, resulting in the addition of 25 new walking tours and 15 new cycling tours in these destinations — with focus and respect paid to the Indigenous communities that have stewarded certain visited areas for centuries. Examples include:
In addition to the new and amended tours, Intrepid also recognized its power to reduce the carbon output of its trips by looking to its supply chain. For the recently launched Intrepid Premium trip range — tours geared toward high-end travelers — there was a concerted focus in identifying and contracting more accommodation using renewable energy sources. The company is also trialing electric vehicles for its travelers’ arrival transfers in several destinations such as Jordan and Iran. Each of these efforts will continue to be integrated into all Intrepid Travel trips moving forward.
“While our plan to decarbonize our trips has been in the works for several years now, the global pandemic has heightened the importance of these efforts. As travel came to a halt in 2020, it provided our industry with the opportunity to reassess our operations and commit to rebuilding in a way that is beneficial to the planet,” Thornton said.