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Published on Tuesday, August 4, 2020

It's time the industry cleaned up its act, warns Intrepid MD

The travel industry must emerge from the Covid crisis with a fresh focus on sustainability if future generations are to have a world left to discover, the boss of Intrepid has warned.

The adventure operaor's Managing Director James Thornton told TravelMole the industry must 'redefine what normal is' and 'clean up its act'.

Before Covid took hold, the industry faced mounting criticism concerning over-tourism and the pollution of oceans, issues which must be addressed, he said.

And he stressed that will happen only by placing greater importance on sustainability.

"We at Intrepid fundamentally believe that the travel industry can only rebound stronger if it tries to rebuild more responsibly," Thornton said.

"It's time for the industry to clean up its act.

"The sector has been brought to a grinding halt and I think it would be remiss if it were not for something good. We should be aspiring not to go back to normal but to redefine what normal means."

The means elevating sustainable and ethical travel into mainstream thinking, and not regarded as an afterthought, he said.

"We believe the travel industry needs to emerge from this crisis by placing more focus on sustainability to ensure there is a world to explore for future generations of travellers," Thornton continued.

And there are signs the message is beginning to hit home, with conference agendas now putting sustainability at the top of the agenda.

Historically, the topic was squeezed in to the programme 'because people felt they had to', Thornton said.

"But we are starting to see a shift to recognise that sustainability is important. The tough thing when it comes to sustainability is how do you start going about it when you haven't done it before? I think the key thing is to start small. Do something that aligns with your business, try to make some progress and build from there.

"You don't suddenly go from not doing anything to starting 10 things immediately."

Meanwhile, Thornton said business was 'slowly' picking up for 2021 but conceded the 'brutal reality' was of a calamitous period with bookings in May, June and July down 95%, 85% and 76% respectively.

"We are slowly starting to see a few more green shoots," he said. "Many Brits are looking to next year and March, April and May are currently the most popular months."

The operator is this week running its first tour in four and a half months with a cycling trip in the Lake District. It is part of Intrepid's UK Retreats programme, its first such venture in the UK domestic market.





By Steve Jones, Contributing Editor

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