NEW YORK, N.Y. – Intrepid Travel has reimagined its product line during its rebuild to incorporate both new and amended itineraries with lower carbon outputs.
The company has been carbon neutral since 2010 and in October 2020 became the first and only tour operator in the world with verified science-based climate targets, operating in line with a 1.5°C future championed by the historic 2015 Paris Agreement. As part of their decarbonization work in the last year alone, Intrepid has introduced over 40 low-carbon alternative tours including new closer-to-home adventures and walking and cycling trips in the U.S., U.K. 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 enriching the overall trip experience further.
“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 James Thornton, CEO of Intrepid Travel.
“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.”
As part of Intrepid’s commitment to a 1.5°C future, the travel company 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 Intrepid’s top 50 itineraries by 2022. For example, Intrepid has traded out internal flights with high speed rail on the majority of its trips in China and continues to make similar changes elsewhere whenever there is a feasible land or road alternative available. Two examples of new decarbonized itineraries include:
Beijing to Hong Kong Adventure
This 12-day trip is a comprehensive tour tackling several areas in the heart of China, from a Great Wall hike to a temple stay in Mt. Qingcheng. Intrepid Travel’s product team incorporated the use of four high speed trains to get around, which also serve to provide travelers with a birds-eye view of the scenic countryside.
The usual flight between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh has been replaced by a boat ride up the Tonle Sap River on this new six-day adventure from Intrepid Travel, followed by a three-hour cultural tour from the disembarkation point through to Siem Reap. Travelers will also enjoy Cambodia’s first farm-to-table restaurant, a privately catered breakfast on the shores of the Srah Srang Lake in the temple district and enjoy a three-night stay at a wellness retreat in Siem Reap.
New “Human-Powered” Tours
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 outdoor active adventures following months of indoor quarantining.
The onset of the pandemic accelerated the company’s focus on more travel options closer to home in its major source markets of Australia, the U.K. and the U.S., resulting in the addition of 25 new walking tours and 15 new cycling tours in these destinations. Examples include:
Trek The Larapinta Trail (Australia)
Travelers experience the heart of the Australian Outback, West MacDonnell National Park in the Northern Territory, during this five-day trip. Guests will hike to shadowed gorges, snaking riverbanks, open plains and mountains filled with a rich diversity of animals and plants along the red rock slopes of the West Macs, appreciating the importance of this place to the traditional owners of the land, the Arrernte people, over thousands of years.
Cycle the Lake District (U.K.)
This four-day Intrepid cycling experience offers a comfortable yet active way to discover some of the finest scenery in the U.K. in the Lake District National Park. Based in the charming market town of Keswick, travelers will cycle their way alongside the serene waters of Derwentwater and Buttermere and up the challenging but rewarding Honister and Newlands Passes, while also riding back 5,000 years in time as they take in the sight of the ancient Castlerigg Stone Circle.
Walk Yosemite National Park (U.S.)
This six-day walking tour shows off the best of Yosemite National Park in California, from giant sequoia trees, to stunning Cathedral Lakes, to the massive Half Dome rock and waterfalls of the appropriately named Mist Trail. Travelers will also take part in an educational guided walk through the historic Ahwahnee village, where they’ll learn about Native American heritage and the park’s conservation efforts.
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 with eco-credentials. 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 due to Covid-19, it provided our industry with the opportunity to reassess our operations and commit to rebuilding in a way that is beneficial to the planet,” said Thornton.