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Is sustainability the only future for travel? Intrepid Travel seems to think so.

Intrepid Travel announced earlier this week that it is partnering with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)’s Hotel Sustainability Basics Program, becoming the first global travel company to extend the WTTC’s sustainability verification program to its suppliers.

Suppliers Want to Improve Sustainability Best Practices

“Our suppliers have told us that they want to improve their practices, but as small and medium-sized businesses, they often don’t know where to start, or don’t have the resources,” says Sara King, general manager of purpose for Intrepid Travel, in a press statement. “By offering our hotel suppliers access to this internationally recognized program, we can make focused improvements that will support them, and the overall impact of our business.”

Overseen by the Sustainability Hospitality Alliance, the program subjects hotels to a three-year evaluation, measuring their progress toward meeting 12 sustainability goals. Those who make substantial progress can seek Global Sustainability Tourism Council certification.

Intrepid framed the partnership as a win-win-win: suppliers improve their standing with climate-conscious travelers, the travel company progresses toward reducing carbon emissions across its supply chain, and the environment benefits from less pollution.

In a recently released report, A Sustainable Future for Travel, Intrepid Travel stated, “travel as we know it hovers on the brink of extinction.”

“The industry is faced, at this watershed moment, with two potential roads ahead: one where climate breakdown and tourism restrictions curb the pursuit of wanderlust, and one where regenerative breakthroughs change the future of travel—and the world—for the better,” according to the report.

Notably, the October 2023 report predicted that future travelers would be issued “carbon passports,” limiting their carbon footprint related to leisure travel. The travel company also said that extreme heat and weather could see vacationers not seeking sunny destinations but rather cooler ones and that some destinations could be forced to limit travel to virtual vacations.

Sustainability in the Air
Coincidentally, Intrepid’s WTTC announcement came in the same week as the first transatlantic flight operated by a commercial airline entirely powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

Virgin Atlantic, which flew a Boeing 787 from London Heathrow to New York’s JFK on SAF derived from waste cooking oils, animal fat and corn waste, said emissions on the flight were reduced by 70 percent compared to regular jet fuel.

SAF is seen as a vital component of the airline industry’s plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.