It’s true that the travel industry has lots to do in tackling its contribution to the climate crisis. We, as travellers, do too.
More often than not, the excitement that stems from embarking on another adventure masks our ongoing responsibility to protecting people, places and the planet. This gives travel companies lots of wiggle room, meaning many don’t make much needed alterations to the way they operate.
Thankfully, some individuals and organisations in the travel industry are taking the initiative and taking their responsibility seriously. A new coalition, created at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, brings together these parties under a series of shared climate objectives.
It’s hoped that together, the signatories can advocate for positive changes to the industry that benefits everyone.
What is ‘Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency?’
Tourism Declares is a global community of travel organisations and individuals, “all committed to delivering a Climate Action Plan aligned with the need to cut emissions in half by 2030.” At the time of writing, there are over 400 members, including accommodation providers, tourism boards, media organisations and tour operators.
Each member has committed to advocate for improving the tourism industry with climate responsibility at the forefront. Signatories are obliged to create a Climate Action Plan for themselves aligned with five shared pathways (measure, decarbonise, regenerate, collaborate, finance). The member’s progress towards meeting the action plan must then be publicly reported.
We’re delighted that Here To Travel is a signatory of the Tourism Declares coalition. Expect to see more details on what we’re doing as part of our own Climate Action Plan very soon.
5 tour operators who are committed to sustainable travel
Below are 5 tour operators who have declared a climate emergency. There are plenty more to discover on the Tourism Declares website. Please do go and view the ever-expanding list.
Byway caused quite a stir in 2020 when they launched in the height of the UK Covid-19 lockdown. Many were surprised to see a travel company launch during a time of heavily restricted travel, but it worked wonders in creating publicity for this strictly no-flight, slow travel tour operator.
Trains, boats, buses and bikes step in to the company’s range of tours where planes normally take the strain. Currently, there are tours to destinations in the UK, France and Italy with more to follow.
Byway’s climate declaration hinges on the company’s principle “that travelling through the world is better than flying over it,” with a ‘Climate Emergency Plan’ in the works. They’ve also recently applied to become a Certified B Corp.
Exodus are travel industry stalwarts, having been founded over 45 years ago. According to their website, they have “500 itineraries across over 90 separate countries,” with a focus on adventure trips.
As part of their climate plan, Exodus is aiming for their tours to be what they call ‘Nature Net Positive’ by 2024. This will be achieved by carbon reduction, rewilding and investment in conservation and animal welfare projects. The company’s website has extensive information on the plans and their progress will be publicly visible.
Much Better Adventures
This London-based tour operator focuses on providing adventure holidays, offering ‘outdoorsy people’ a plethora of scheduled adventure trips all over the world, from weekend breaks to much longer expeditions. Each trip is very clearly described (including a carbon footprint calculation) and booking an adventure is very flexible.
The company’s purpose, “To protect our world’s wild places, one adventure at a time,” appears at the bottom of every page and makes their approach very clear. The declaration and plan goes into more detail, stipulating that 5% of the company’s revenues go to funding conservation and re-wilding projects.
One thing that’s particularly notable is the honesty they show when talking about greenwashing. They acknowledge that as an organisation that encourages flights around the world, they could well be accused of greenwashing. This is always going to be a tricky thing for a travel company to address, but I think they do this quite well.
G Adventures focus on pre-arranged tours for small groups. Individuals, couples, friends and families are brought together by the company into groups that are usually no more then 15-20 people. What’s included varies per tour, but usually transport, experiences and some meals are provided with extras available at additional cost.
One of the company’s core values is, ‘Do the right thing,’ which is their “commitment to making travel a force for good.” It makes sense then that G Adventures is taking its role in dealing with the climate crisis seriously. G Adventures have signed up to the Glasgow Declaration, which commits the company to report publicly on their progress against interim and long-term climate targets.
Intrepid are another travel operator who focus on small group tours and on “creating positive change through the joy of travel.” With over 30 years of experience, the company arranges tours in countries all over the world and also offers the ability to create tailor-made trips.
Intrepid go to great lengths to promote their values and ethics, with information available on their website about what they do to protect the communities they interact with and what they’re doing in response to the climate emergency. Since 2010, the company has produced reports on what they’ve been doing to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Intrepid are also a Certified B Corporation.
Discover more climate conscious travel companies
The list of climate conscious travel companies is ever growing. Please go to the Tourism Declares website to find out more.