Operator awarded for non-profit works, writes Sam Ballard.
The Intrepid Foundation, the not-for-profit arm of Intrepid Travel, has been honoured at the World Tourism Awards for its work in responsible travel.
The awards, which are now in their 21st year, also gave a nod to Global Himalayan Expeditions and the Jordan Trail Association.
The Intrepid Foundation, which has raised A$6 million since it was founded in 2002, has donated funds to over 100 NGOs. Last year it raised A$997,000 based on a policy of dollar-for-dollar matching of its customers’ donations.
The company carried 430,000 passengers last year.
Speaking to ABTA Magazine, James Thornton, the CEO of Intrepid and the chairman of the Intrepid Foundation, said: “We are thrilled to win this award, which not only recognises the work we are doing to make a difference to local people and their communities but also recognises the work we’ve done over the course of 16 years to become a leader in responsible business.”
Intrepid has lead the way in initiatives including banning elephant rides and stopping visits to orphanages. It has also been a carbon neutral company since 2010. The company is further developing its social enterprise network with the opening of a Myanmar Community Tourism Hub in December.
“When I became chairman of the Intrepid Foundation [18 months ago], we would react to global disasters like earthquakes. However, we felt like for the foundation to get traction with the amount of money we were raising, we needed to focus and tailor the money to specific areas – mainly the United Nations Sustainability Goals, or more specifically SGD8, which is all about work and fair employment.”
“Community tourism is everything that we do,” Thornton said, adding that there was also a business case for sustainable travel. “We fundamentally believe that the more we are able to grow, the more we are can do things in the purpose space, and the more we do in the purpose space, the more we are able to grow.”