Intrepid Travel Group has partnered with Lonely Planet on a new series of travel experiences, as well as announced a plan to go carbon-positive. Leigh Barnes, chief customer officer at Intrepid Travel, shared the details with Travel Agent in a recent interview.
“All of the new trips are going to focus on sustainable travel and experiences,” says Barnes of the new Lonely Planet Experiences, which will comprise 200 day tours and more than 130 multi-day itineraries, all of which will be carbon-neutral. Intrepid’s Urban Adventures brand will operate the day tour experiences, while the multi-day itineraries will range from walking, cycling and marine adventures to trips focused on festivals, food and family-friendly travel.
Notable among the new Lonely Planet Experiences is the eight-day Galapagos Discovery itinerary, which offers travelers the chance to scale the Sierra Negra Volcano and learn about the destination’s unique wildlife, such as the giant tortoises of Isla Santa Cruz or the dinosaur-like marine iguana. The eight-day Best of Brazil will explore Rio de Janeiro, as well as colonial Paraty and the Ilha Grande, where travelers can spend two full days amid its rainforests. The much longer, 31-day Explore Bolivia to Brazil adds the chance to travel to the Witches’ Market and unique landscapes of Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia before traveling through Argentina and Uruguay, ending in Brazil.
In addition to carbon neutrality, the new Lonely Planet experiences will also focus on sustainability in terms of the trip’s impact on the local community.
“We’ll make sure we’re interacting with the local community in the right way,” Barnes says, “making sure we’re putting money into the local economy and continuing to reduce our footprint, both environmental and social.” All tours will use local transportation and support locally owned businesses.
Barnes says that Intrepid and Lonely Planet have been collaborating on the new experiences over the past four months, developing the trips, marketing and branding based on customer feedback. At launch the new tours will be available in six continents across 65 countries, and they will range from two hours to 22 days.
Looking ahead, Intrepid is planning additional investments in sustainability with a plan to become the first-ever climate positive travel company this year.
“We know that we can’t have the travel industry if we don’t have a healthy planet, so we’ve been looking at how to improve that,” Barnes says.
Moving forward, Intrepid will offset the carbon footprint of its trips at 125 percent, meaning that they will attempt to take more carbon out of the atmosphere than the trip produces. Barnes says the company will accomplish this through investments in projects such as a seaweed farm in Tasmania, which uses the seaweed to draw carbon out of the air.
Intrepid is also investing more into innovation and research surrounding the transition to a low-carbon economy, such as a $100,000 investment in the Antarctic Science Foundation.
“We’re not perfect but we do a lot of work to make it better,” Barnes says.