In this guest post for World Environment Day, James Thornton, Intrepid Travel’s CEO, reflects on working towards a responsible recovery from COVID-19 for the tourism sector.
5 June 2020
  • Sustainable Tourism
James Thornton, CEO, Intrepid Travel

This World Environment Day, Intrepid Travel is delighted to stand alongside the One Planet Vision for a Responsible Recovery of the Tourism Sector. The vision provides recommendations for recovery plans that balance the needs of people, planet and prosperity through six lines of action: public health, social inclusion, biodiversity conservation, climate action, circular economy and governance and partnerships.

Here, James Thornton, Intrepid Travel’s CEO, reflects on working towards responsible recovery. 

 

As travelers around the world anxiously await their first trip following months of isolation, hospitality and tourism organizations will be met with an important choice. We can either precariously enter the recovery clinging to the past, or responsibly lead the rebound acting for the future.

The year 2020 has been the most challenging year to date for the majority of our industry, with COVID-19 bringing the global economy to a crippling halt – not to mention issues of racial injustice coming to a head, catastrophic bush fires creating long-term damage to land and ecosystems, and international tensions escalating beyond measure.

Through disaster and devastation, we must not only seek to find hope, but to inspire systemic change. We must decide to enter the post-COVID world not only with better intentions, but with a series of committed actions. Simply put, we cannot be aspiring for things to go back to normal. We must collectively work to redefine what normal means and be ready to fight for it.

But what does the travel rebuild look like?

In a piece titled Travel can only rebound stronger if it rebuilds more responsibly, Intrepid Travel Co-Founder, Geoff Manchester, outlined 4 areas of focus for a more sustainable future; net-zero emissions, ending exploitative wildlife tourism, empowering communities and establishing stronger governance.

In line with the One Planet Vision’s recommendation for climate action, we wanted to provide some deeper insights into our climate journey. 

Intrepid has been concerned about the impacts of climate change for over 15 years.  Our journey started in 2005 when a group of senior managers read The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery about the history and future impact of climate change, which got us thinking about our role in it.

Our Co-Founder and Chair, Darrell Wade, formed an internal working committee shortly after becoming one of the first Australians to complete Climate Project training with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Their work focused on three core areas: measuring, reducing and offsetting. Once we better understood the impact our business was having on the planet, we began to actively reduce our carbon footprint and offset all remaining emissions. This led to Intrepid Travel becoming the world’s largest carbon neutral travel company in 2010.

Since then we have continued to reduce our GHG intensity while growing our bottom-line. In recent years, our focus has shifted to creating further environmental benefits by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while advocating for our industry to move towards net zero emissions by 2030.

At Intrepid, we believe climate action is a commitment to the sustainability of the entire travel industry, and the world we love to explore.

But the only way to make real systemic changes in our fight for the planet is to work together to reduce our carbon emissions. We must share our mistakes and our successes in our individual climate journeys to lift each other up and ensure there is one common goal: to heal our planet.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will be launching a series of initiatives and partnerships to support a responsible recovery and provide travel companies with tools and resources to build back better. We cannot go back to the way things were. We must keep climate change at the core of this conversation to help preserve our planet, and our industry, for generations to come.

 

To learn more about Intrepid Travel’s climate action plan visit: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/about/responsible-business

 

Photo credit: Michal Kmeť on Unsplash

  • Sustainable Tourism
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Climate Change, Systems change, Tourism