Earth Day Feature: How Three Adventure Travel Operators are Pioneering Sustainable Tourism

Wilderness Scotland
Wilderness Scotland

With Earth Day coming up on 22APR, Bannikin Travel & Tourism shared with Open Jaw the stories of three adventure travel industry pioneers in sustainable tourism which have responded to the climate crisis “call to arms” with initiatives rooted in personal choice, community engagement, and corporate social responsibility.

"By spearheading efforts to integrate thoughtful, eco-conscious practices into every available aspect of their businesses, these three adventure travel leaders prove it’s possible to 'walk the walk' on climate change, emissions reduction, and bio-diversification while simultaneously breathing fresh life into the familiar eco-business maxim 'focus on making green products seem normal, rather than making normal products seem green,'" Bannikin said in a press release.

All three stories carry lessons in how travellers and the travel industry can take part in sustainable initiatives.

Wilderness Scotland

Introducing Carbon Labeling to Achieve True Net-Zero Status

Since signing the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency and Glasgow Declaration in 2020, Wilderness Scotland has strengthened its commitment to reduce carbon emissions across its entire operation (with a goal of achieving “True” Net Zero status by 2030) while also continuing their investment in environmental conservation through partners such as the John Muir Trust. With the build of a new net-zero HQ powered by renewable energy and the introduction of Tesla vehicles to the transport fleet, Wilderness is making progress in reducing their emissions by 90 per cent over a 10 year period from 2020-2030.

However, it’s their new Carbon Labeling project that’s the focus of the current climate change conversation. Launched in 2021, Wilderness is now set up to not only measure the carbon impact of its day-to-day business operations, it can also track the output of every single trip in its portfolio. The result: every traveller can know what the carbon footprint is of their holiday, giving potential customers the information they need to make more environmentally sustainable travel choices. For any emissions that cannot be eliminated directly from their services by 2030, Wilderness will be investing in carbon removal via local reforestation and afforestation projects. By providing travellers with such insights, Wilderness hopes to empower everyone to make more meaningful and responsible holiday choices.

For more information on Wilderness Scotland, visit its web site.

Natural Habitat Adventures

Conservation Rooted in Exploration & Inspiration

Natural Habitat Adventures

Since its start 37 years ago, Natural Habitat Adventures has built its business upon a core commitment to global leadership in conservation, driving heightened awareness and demand for sustainable practices across the travel industry.

By directly supporting and preserving natural habitats, infusing economic resources into local communities, and transforming individual travellers into ambassadors for enhanced global conservation, Nat Hab is confident its itineraries are "already helping to mitigate any negative impact from its operation."

Nat Hab has doubled down on efforts to improve any destructive consequences tied to the company’s operation, be it amplifying its carbon offsetting program to include traveller flights; reducing waste and greening trip, office, and transportation operations; or deepening partnerships with conservation organizations like World Wildlife Fund.

Among grassroots conservation efforts, its eco-bricks project in Mexico is highlighted as an "ingenious, small-scale effort" by Nat Hab Expedition Leaders to recycle plastics found on the ground during trips. By compacting hard-to-recycle plastic waste into a single-use plastic bottle, they can create a sturdy building material for local projects.

In 2022, Nat Hab debuted its Alaska Bear Camp. Tucked away on 15 acres within the remote wilderness of Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park, the camp allows the company to further its commitment to Alaska bear conservation by offering intimate encounters with Alaskan brown bears. With the new camp, Nat Hab aims to showcase it as an economic alternative to the competing mining, gas, and oil interests that impact and continue to threaten bear numbers across the North.

For more information on Natural Habitat Adventures, visit its web site.

Natural Habitat Adventures Alaskan Bears
Alaskan Bears

Exodus Travels

Investing in People, Places, & Planet with Every Trip

Sustainable travel runs synonymous with Exodus Travels, where for almost 50 years conservation and localized community development efforts have been the foundation upon which the small group tour company's ethos is built.

As climate change accelerates, for Exodus, the goal is simple: do more good than harm. And as the planet continues to warm to unprecedented levels and communities everywhere face escalating challenges as a result, the tour company has added their own innovative flair and predilection for creative collaboration to address these issues.

Since 2020, when they were among the first signatories of the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency, Exodus has specifically ramped up all efforts to confront the coming crisis. This has included the launch of three major conservation initiatives in 2021 - to halve their carbon footprint by 2030, rewild 100+ square meters on behalf of every passenger, and offset carbon emissions from all flights and trips - as well as a recent promise to become Nature Net Positive by 2024.

Exodus has most recently partnered with Rewilding Europe for its exclusive Restoring Italy’s Wild Heart trip for 2022 offering a unique opportunity for travellers and staff to contribute directly to the restoration of the local ecosystem, all while supporting the long-term goals of the local community driving the creation of this Nature and Carbon Corridor. Exodus has also just recently expanded their rewilding support to the Velebit Mountains, alongside the Adriadic coast in Croatia.

For more information on Exodus Travels, visit its web site.

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