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Intrepid’s decarbonisation guide supports industry action

February 25, 2021 Tour Operator No Comments Email Email

In 2020, Intrepid Travel published a decarbonisation guide to support other companies start their climate journey.

Two very different tour operators share how they’ve used the guide and how it has helped them think about restarting operations more responsibly.

Covid-19 continues to be the worst crisis ever to face tourism but in the midst of the pandemic, Intrepid Travel, a leader in sustainability, used the moment to support other tourism companies with tools to help them in the responsible restart.

While the pandemic poses a huge threat to the viability the tourism industry, climate change poses an even bigger long-term threat. If anything, the Covid-19 crisis is highlighting how much more businesses could be doing to combat the climate crisis.

Authored by Intrepid’s Environmental Impact Specialist, Dr Susanne Etti, the 10-step Guide to Decarbonise Your Travel Business is available to download on the company’s website.

More than 180 other businesses of all shapes and sizes and from right across the globe have accessed the tool. The bold decision to share what is typically propriety information was prompted by Intrepid’s concern about the growing climate crisis and the need for collective action. The guide aims to support and assist other travel businesses who up to now have wanted to take action on carbon emissions but haven’t known where to start. It provides an easy-to-follow action plan on reduction and offsetting their carbon emissions.

Dr Etti went a step further, by inviting travel companies who had downloaded the guide to reach out to her personally with any questions on where to start or how to progress with real action on emissions. Two of those companies are Audley Travel, which specialises in private tailor-made travel, and custom travel specialist Trufflepig (see below).

A few months after the guide was published, Intrepid became the first global tour operator with long-term emission reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Science-based targets are ambitious 2035 emissions reduction targets in line with a 1.5°C future and are widely considered the most effective way for companies to take significant climate action.

SCIENCE-BASED TARGETS SUPPORT FUTURE PLANNING – AUDLEY TRAVEL

Audley Travel describes itself as a tailor-made tour operator, with three global offices offering customised trips to more than 80 countries. Audley celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2021 and the company’s main approach to responsible travel has so far been focused on supporting local communities. Now, it is turning its attention to carbon emissions. Heather Magnussen is the company’s Responsible Travel and Sustainability Manager based in Massachusetts in the US, who reached out to Dr Etti for more information:

“We started our carbon journey in 2007 with carbon offsetting all business-related flights, and extended this option to our clients in 2009. We do have clients who choose to carbon offset their flights.

“I heard about the guide from a colleague but what really brought my attention to it was the news around Intrepid’s science-based targets. I reached out to Susanne to have a chat – [because] in my role, I’m thinking about how we can create a long-term strategy to reduce our carbon and we want to learn from other companies to ensure we get the best result. We really want to collaborate with suppliers and businesses who are leading the way. I thought ‘what a great opportunity to learn from a company like Intrepid’.

“My main takeaway is that a lot of things [in the guide] reinforce the journey we’ve been on. My biggest learning was the unique opportunity science-based targets create to clearly define the path to reduced emissions. After reading an article about that, speaking with Susanne, seeing Intrepid’s seven-point climate plan and understanding how the business will grow and improve their carbon was really interesting. It really got me thinking about what steps Audley needs to take as we grow. We have a plan to continuously see where can reduce.

“My advice to other travel companies is continue to learn from other people. If we all plan ahead we can make a change.”

INSPIRED TO ADVOCATE ON EMISSIONS – TRUFFLE PIG

Jack Dancy is the Founder of Trufflepig, which designs custom adventures, mainly for high-net worth clients. He downloaded the guide and followed up with online meeting with Dr Etti:

“There’s so much generosity around the learning and the propriety tools in the guide. I tried to take that generous spirit on and now advocate loudly myself. I’ve spoken with 35 high-end agencies about sustainability. Sharing the guide embodies generosity and sets the tone within the industry – and it’s very easy to pass on.

“One of the things I got from the guide and talking with Susanne was aside from technical aspect, the other is the sense that advocacy needs to play a role in everything we do. If I was doing this entirely on my own, I would be making a lot of mistakes. We wouldn’t be as effective.

“Specifically with decarbonisation – there’s a clear roadmap of measure, reduce, offset and to then set clear targets. The guide offers a strong beam and headlamp through the murky issues. Ten years ago there was a certain amount of paralysis [around decarbonisation] but now smart people have put their mind to it and come up with best practice for us.”

The decarbonisation guide is just one tool available to the travel industry. There are numerous other organisations who are also leading the way. The vital thing is for travel and tourism businesses to start their climate journey and to start taking real and serious action on carbon emissions.

So, no matter where you are on your climate journey, make it your 2021 priority to take the next step to translate your commitment into action in your travel business.

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