10 of the best travel agencies committed to climate action | Green trip
Highland towers fund tree and rural planting projects
Rather than blaming the carbon issue on customers, the Scottish minibus tour operator Rabbie’s charges £ 10 for every tonne of carbon produced by his travels. Since 2008, this has raised £ 120,000 for community and environmental projects, voted on by the team. Projects include the Staffin Community Trust, a charity that improves the economic prospects of the Gaelic Heart of Skye; Rabbie’s team provided practical and financial assistance to build walking trails and plant trees. Rabbie’s is proud to strike a balance between the carbon efficiency of coach travel and the agility of self-driving – access to rural communities that need income from tourism. An extensive environmental and no-trace policy includes modern fuel-efficient vehicles, garbage collection along the way, and washing of minibuses where runoff is controlled.
The five-day Rabbie Highland Explorer travels through Skye and the far north of Scotland from £ 249 per person; rabbies.com
Walk in the Apennines, Italy
As part of its growing offer of nature experiences close to home, Exodus kicked off a new walking tour to see conservation in action with rewilding expert Mario Cipollini in the Italian Apennines. The trip is a manifestation of Exodus’ climate plan, Planet Promise, which includes a partnership with Rewilding Europe and a goal of being positive for nature by 2024. For every customer who books a trip with Exodus (regardless of the destination), 100 square meters of The lands of the Italian Apennines will be rescued. The plan also aims to halve carbon emissions by 2030 by increasing train travel, moving closer to home travel, and offering plant-based food options.
The six-day Rewilding the Apennines tour costs £ 2,099 per person; exode.fr
Brecon Beacon Stump Up for Trees Hotels
Room for Trees was the brainchild of James Suter, owner of the Gliffaes Hotel, a 13-hectare (33-acre) wildlife and arboretum refuge on the Usk River in the Black Mountains. The hotel donates £ 1 for each night booked at Stump Up for the trees – a small charity which set out to plant over a meter of trees in the Welsh highlands. So far Gliffaes, along with the Angel Hotel in Abergavenny, has raised over £ 10,000. The money will go to the Stump Up for Trees pilot project, which involves planting 130,000 native broadleaf trees on common land in Bryn Arw. This is the first tree plantation on common land in Wales and is led by seventh generation Black Mountain farmer Keith Powell.
Double rooms at the Gliffaes hotel from £ 165; gliffaeshotel.com
Low Carbon Travel, Scotland and Beyond
Much better adventuresCo-founder Alex Narracott has spent one day a week since 2019 establishing Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency – a platform inspiring climate action in the travel industry. “The tourism industry lacked a clear, unified commitment to climate actions aligned with scientific consensus; we wanted to change that, ”Alex tells us. Today, Tourism Declares has more than 400 signatories in 60 countries; the initiative shaped the Glasgow Declaration, calling on the tourism industry to achieve a 50% reduction by 2030 for Cop26. Much Better Adventures’ carbon labeling methodology is open source, so other companies can refer to or rely on it. Alex says, “Our trips are already low carbon, but labeling has given us a fantastic way to engage with suppliers and cut even more. ”
One of Much Better Adventures’ cleaner journeys is a four-night, 100km canoe trip through Scotland from £ 590 per person; muchbetteradventures.com
Save the oaks with Canopy & Stars
Mostly owned by employees and recently awarded Best for the World B Corp in the Workers category, owner of Canopy & Stars by Sawday is renowned for its social sustainability. Since 2019, the company has also committed to climate action aimed at planting 1 million trees by 2025 with the TreeSisters charity to revive habitats in the tropics while creating local jobs (a tree is offered for each reservation). Closer to home, the Sawday Charitable Foundation also purchased and planted 8,000 Save the Oaks trees – a campaign to save 750,000 young oak trees that must be destroyed after a failed government planting program. Work to reduce carbon emissions is underway, including initiatives such as partnering with Ecotricity to offer homeowners the best prices and ensure that 95% of suppliers meet high environmental standards.
The saplings of Save the Oaks were planted at Colony wood, Herefordshire, which has a treehouse for two from £ 182 per night; canopyeandstars.co.uk
Tour operators rush to create rail routes
Airless travel is becoming more common, with many tour operators building rail routes to reduce carbon emissions. The last is Discover the world, which launched 13 journeys without flights or cars to the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, the Alps and even the Arctic. To explore! (which recently partnered with Rewilding Britain as part of its climate action plan) has two new trips to London2 – one to Poland via Berlin and one to Istanbul, while the flightless operator By the road has teamed up with Mossy Earth to plant trees in the Scottish Highlands when someone sponsors a friend. Pura Aventura, a B Corporation and one of the first UK operators to label every trip, including flights, has created a series of no-fly vacations to Spain. Responsible travel, which sells journeys operated by other local companies and partners, creates more train routes and eliminates journeys that include flights of less than an hour.
Responsible Travel trips include a seven days from London to Croatia break from £ 950, responsabletravel.com.
AliKats Mountain Holidays Greener ski trips, Alps
Skiing is hardly synonymous with low-impact travel, especially as Europe’s most popular glaciers are increasingly bearing the scars of the climate crisis. Based in Morzine AliKats Mountain Holidays, however, is trying to tackle the climate crisis from all angles. As part of the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency movement, owners Al and Kat draw attention to the fact that snow cover is expected to decrease by 35% by 2035. To achieve the goal of net zero carbon by 2022 AliKats cabins are powered by 100% renewable energy, mostly derived from dams fed by rivers rather than dams fed by more noxious reservoirs. Menus are less meat-focused, and a fleet of electric vehicles moves customers around the stations. Train travel is encouraged, suppliers are local where possible, and a permaculture garden will help the company adopt a circular food economy.
The Chalet de l’Ange can accommodate 14 people and costs from £ 656 per person for a week, including five catering nights; alikats.eu
Greening and Sustainable Homes, Cotswold / Dorset
Habitat first is no ordinary development company. Founded by the Paxton family 25 years ago, it builds eco-friendly holiday homes on once abandoned sites including a former quarry in Silverlake, Dorset. The revival of natural habitats is at the heart of the company’s mission, overseen by an on-site ecologist, Dr Phoebe Carter. “We are recreating lost habitats both on a micro level and on a large scale,” she says. “Work to create our 90 hectare biodiversity core is well underway in Silverlake, with a range of islands built to accommodate a variety of waterfowl, new lowland heathland plantations and numerous tree plantations.” Silverlake and Lower Mill Estate (in the Cotswolds) were the first in the country to be accredited “Excellent” under the Building With Nature accreditation program.
Habitat Escapes is offering a three-night self-service stay at Water Garden 9, Cotswolds, for eight people from £ 102 per person ; habitatescapes.com
“Vacation companies must go beyond compensation”
Intrepid has been carbon neutral since 2010. In 2020, it also became the first tour operator in the world to achieve science-based verified climate targets (in line with a 1.5 degree future), which means independent experts have approved its company-wide carbon reduction plan. Funding for natural carbon sinks has played an important role; Since 2019, the Intrepid Foundation has helped raise A $ 600,000 (£ 328,000) to develop Australia’s first offshore algae project and is now donating AU $ 80,000 to Blue Carbon Lab’s work to restore coastal wetlands outside of Melbourne. However, reflecting on a move towards decarbonization, launching more domestic travel and eliminating all flights under 90 minutes, CEO James Thornton recognizes that “as an industry we have to go beyond compensation “.
The five days of Intrepid Sibenik and the Kornati Islands in Croatia travel was developed in partnership with the IUCN will support nature conservation and the costs of £ 830 per person; intrepidtravel.com
Green catering is the future, North Yorkshire Raithwaite Sandsend
Over the past few years, Toby Hunter and his sons Max and Ollie have breathed new, greener life into Raithwaite Sandsend hotel and spa, on a 19th century estate between the coast and the moors in North Yorkshire. As a MasterChef finalist and former owner of The Wheatsheaf in Chilton Foliat, Wiltshire, Ollie knows a thing or two about sustainable catering, and food has led Raithwaite’s green approach. The redesigned menus offer reduced meat and put vegetarian options at the top, which has increased their popularity. The produce is 100% seasonal and organic, and the team strives to source 80% of the produce within a 30 mile radius. A new series of vegetable gardens and polytunnels on site will help you. A self-contained forest garden, comprising 50 fruit trees, is also on the way.
Double rooms at Raithwaite Sandsend from £ 140; raithwaitesandsend.co.uk
Holly Tuppen’s book, Sustainable Travel: The Essential Guide to Positive-Impact Adventures, is published by Quarto (£ 18)