Unlike the many tour operators who jumped on the bandwagon when the niche market exploded nearly a decade ago, Sven Lindblad, founder and president of Lindblad Expeditions, has specialized in ecotourism pretty much his whole life. (In fact, Lindblad’s father is Lars-Eric Lindblad, the expedition travel pioneer known to many as “the father of ecotourism.”)
“Ecotourism certainly is a phrase which has been exploited,” Lindblad says. “We actually don’t even use the term. Personally, I believe that responsible tourism should cause little to no damage and act to restore and/or preserve at the other end of the spectrum. Perhaps the most important aspect, however, is to instill respect and reverence in the minds and hearts of travelers for places visited.”
Lindblad Expeditions is based in New York City and also has an office in Seattle. It offers small-ship expeditions to the Arctic, Antarctica, Alaska, Baja California, the Baltics, the British Isles, Central America, Europe, the Galapagos, the Mediterranean and the Pacific Northwest.
Lindblad got into the travel business in 1977. He was working in Kenya as a photographer on a book about elephants. His father came to his camp and asked if he would return to the U.S. and work for him.
Although he was reluctant to leave Africa, he returned and worked for his father for a year-and-a-half before breaking off and forming his own, separate division, “Special Expeditions.”
“I learned plenty from my father, both positive and negative, and his influence has always been with me,” he says.
Lindblad Expeditions has spent decades working for local conservation, raising more than $7 million with its guests in the last 10 years alone.
All of the money raised by Lindblad Expeditions and its guests is distributed through local partners on the ground who are acutely aware of the issues and challenges in the key geographies where they travel.
In addition, Lindblad Expeditions has recently formed the LEX/NG Joint Fund for Exploration and Conservation with its partner, National Geographic.
This joint fund is dedicated to supporting the initiatives around the world that are aimed at preserving the beautiful and pristine places.
“This commitment to giving back is emblematic of my core values and very much a central tenet of how I have built my business,” Lindblad says.
“Consequently, the mission of Lindblad Expeditions has remained consistent over time—to bring travelers to regions that inspire them and eventually, help to shape their thinking about protecting these unique places,” he adds.
Today, Lindblad continues the tradition of exploration through his company, Lindblad Expeditions.
With its experienced staff and carefully researched and planned itineraries, Lindblad Expeditions owns and operates five vessels, and the company has been lauded for the efforts it has made toward innovative exploration and conservation efforts.
For his dedication to conservation and environmental stewardship, Lindblad has received international recognition, including the 2008 National Wildlife Federation’s Corporate Achievement Award, 2007 Global Tourism Business Award, 2007 Seafood Champion Award, U.N. Program Global 500 Award and recognition from HRH Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg for his work in the Galapagos archipelago.