Intrepid Travel Wants the Tourism Industry to Rebuild Itself Responsibly

The Australian company has published a guide for travel companies wanting to decarbonize.

Hikers in snow-capped mountains.

 Intrepid Travel

For the past 30 years, Intrepid Travel has been taking people on magnificent adventures. The Australian-based company has made a name for itself as a tourism business that prioritizes small groups, off-the-beaten-track experiences, and local guides with an intimate knowledge of their home regions. The high quality of Intrepid's tours has caused the company to grow enormously, offering more than 2,700 tours in 130 countries on all seven continents in 2019.

Along with such extensive travel, however, comes a significant carbon footprint; and, unlike many tourism companies that choose to ignore this uncomfortable fact, Intrepid has faced it head-on, becoming carbon neutral in 2010 and striving to become carbon positive in the future. It's a certified B-Corp and a signatory to both the UN Global Compact and Tourism Declares, a collective of tourism businesses and individuals pledging urgent action on climate change. It's safe to say that Intrepid understands the scope of the problem it faces and is working hard to mitigate the effects of the international travel.

Now that global shutdowns have temporarily devastated tourism all around the world, Intrepid sees it as a unique opportunity to rebuild an industry that's notoriously hard on the planet. It has proven it's possible, having done it for so many years already, and knows that increasingly eco-aware tourists want to reduce their impact, too. As CEO James Thornton said,

"We fundamentally believe that the tourism industry can rebound even stronger than it was before, but only if it rebuilds more responsibly. And the best way to act on climate change is for individuals, businesses and governments to work together to reduce our collective carbon emissions."

Enter the 10-Step Quick Start Guide to Decarbonize Your Travel Business. This document, released by Intrepid in July 2020, is the first part of its commitment to helping other tourism businesses rebuild in post-pandemic times. It is a resource guide, written by Intrepid's in-house sustainability expert, Dr. Susanne Etti, that reveals what's usually proprietary information – straightforward steps for "understanding how climate change is impacting your business to developing a carbon management strategy." 

The guide's steps include practical advice on declaring a climate emergency, building an internal support network for pursuing climate goals, analyzing emissions data, developing a carbon strategy, and more.

tree planting with Intrepid Travel
Intrepid Travel 

Thornton said in a press release sent to Treehugger,

"[This] crisis has brought our sector and the global economy to a halt this year and we would be remiss to not let it be for something good. We shouldn't be aspiring for things to go back to normal, but rather redefine what normal means and use this period of travel stagnation to focus on rebuilding our businesses more ethically and sustainably, so that the earth is preserved for future generations to explore." 

I've written already about how tourism is probably going to change in coming years. There will be fewer long-haul flights, more regional road trips, hotels that are more stark and sterile than warm and cozy, and an emphasis on outdoor wellness tourism. People will want to avoid massive hotels and cruise ships and keep away from crowds. Add in the climate crisis and a growing desire to minimize one's global impact while still satisfying the instinctive human urge to globe-trot, and tourism businesses would be smart to take Intrepid's advice and adopt progressive climate policies immediately.

You can read the full 10-step guide here.