How climate change has forced this travel company to rethink its tours
A travel company says it is having to change the way it does its tours because of the impacts of climate change . Intrepid Travel, which offers small group tours in more than 100 countries, reviewed more than 900 of its itineraries between January 2022 and April 2023 and found 76 tours or roughly one a week had been disrupted in some way due to extreme weather events like floods and wildfires. While in some cases the disruption was limited to minor changes to an itinerary, other events had resulted in full-scale group evacuations. Weve seen unprecedented fires in the US, flooding in Australia, a really prolonged monsoon season in Southeast Asia, hurricanes in Cuba its across the board, said Brett Mitchell, Intrepid Travels managing director for Australia and New Zealand. It seems to be getting more frequent and more severe. Mitchell said coming out of the pandemic, they had seen strong demand for active and nature-based trips. But these offerings were being hit the hardest by climate change. As an example, in Nepal weve had to create shorter trekking seasons we were finding theres a lot of rain, which causes landslides, which is very risky. Soaring temperatures had also forced them to reconsider daily schedules in some destinations, having travellers rise early and complete activities before the heat became unbearable. They had also had to implement extreme heat policies, determining the maximum temperatures at which they could safely operate certain activities. The company was also having to take into account the future effects of climate change when developing new trips and experiences, Mitchell said. We were looking at a potential acquisition in the US recently... we recognised the major rivers in the US are drying up, and that has a massive impact on a lot of travel companies, like rafting companies. However, Mitchell acknowledged tourism was both a victim and villain when it came to climate change. The sector accounts for an estimated 8-11% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. Intrepid Travel has been carbon-neutral since 2010, offsetting its emissions with carbon credits. However, recognising the need to do more, in 2020, it became the first global tour operator to adopt independently verified science-based targets for emission reductions. The company has also committed to halving its emissions by 2030. Mitchell said to achieve that goal, they were in the process of taking internal flights out of itineraries where possible and seeking more land-based travel opportunities. Were developing a lot more for Australia and New Zealand, by ramping up our product itineraries locally, and encouraging people to do short-haul or domestic travel. However, Mitchell said it was also important not to lose sight of the benefits of travel of connecting people, breaking down fear of cultures, and the economic benefits. We cant forget those and what that brings to communities, as well as awareness to environmental problems.