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Why we're 'Sustainable Travel Company of the Year'

We're thrilled to have been named 'Sustainable Travel Company of the Year' at the TTG Travel Industry Awards 2023. Here are just some of our recent sustainability initiatives to show how and why we won!


1. Our kind of travel is sustainable by nature

Our trips have always maximised the positive impact on local communities – we travel in small groups that are less invasive on destinations and we always (wherever possible) stay in, and eat at, locally owned and managed establishments, guided by local leaders. We prioritise local businesses for our activities and support community-run initiatives, so our customers can have local interactions and a respectful insight into local life.

2. We're working hard to reduce our carbon footprint

In 2022 we introduced carbon footprint measurements on every one of tours. Now that we have this measurement, we've been working hard to reduce our emissions throughout our programme and operations. We’ve set the target of reducing our carbon by 50% by 2030, with a 7% reduction target for this year.

We’ve taken out domestic flights (for example in Pakistan and the Azores), added new rail journeys (e.g. Laos) and worked with higher-carbon suppliers to make greener choices.

We’re working in collaboration with our suppliers and agents globally, bringing them on this carbon reduction journey with us, working with them to reduce their totals and make informed choices about their own suppliers.

3. We've partnered with Klimate to contribute to carbon removal projects

We’ve moved away from traditional avoidance-based offsetting and towards carbon removal, which uses technologies and processes that lower the concentration of CO₂ in the atmosphere. We've partnered with Klimate who manage a carefully-chosen and monitored portfolio of projects for us. We make a contribution to Klimate for every person that travels with us.

4. We donate to Rewilding Britain for every customer that travels with us

As well as Klimate, we also make a contribution to Rewilding Britain for every customer booking. We're passionate about exploring the world, yet our wanderlust never prevents us appreciating the beauty on our doorstep, as a UK-based company. Right now the UK is considered one of the most nature-depleted countries, with over half of our species in decline, one-in-seven are heading towards extinction. So it's important to us to mitigate the emissions that we cannot entirely remove by investing in ways to restore and protect the natural environment. So far we've donated over £15,000 to Rewilding Britain, and this number will continue to grow.

5. This year we've launched the Explore Foundation

As a registered charity, the Explore Foundation is managed by an independent Board of Trustees, yet it benefits from Explore’s huge community of overseas partners and contacts. Through this network, the Foundation identifies and supports projects in countries that Explore customers visit, working to deliver support where it’s most needed. Explore covers all administration costs, so 100% of donations to the Foundation go directly to supporting our chosen projects.

The Foundation’s mission? To positively impact the lives of communities worldwide. Supporting grassroots projects that target poverty, increase access to education and healthcare, and promote conservation. And with that goal always in mind, we’ve launched The Explore Foundation with two projects very close to our hearts: Lone Buffalo in Laos and One Bike in Tanzania.

Not long after setting up the Foundation, we discovered just what it can do when the Morocco earthquake hit. Within a few days we had launched our Morocco earthquake appeal, to donate to the Red Cross via the Foundation, and raised over £50,000!

6. We're making our head office more sustainable

In our head office we use a specialist waste company to sort our recycling and dispose of our rubbish using eco-friendly methods as part of our effort to become a zero waste building. We have solar panels on our roof, use renewable energy providers and plant-based cleaning products. We’ve built a new cycle store with a green roof that we’ll be planting for biodiversity, as well as bee-friendly plants around the carpark. We also made the decision to close the office on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – while we remain open, the team will be homeworking on those days to reduce commutes as well as heating and lighting.

7. We're encouraging our staff to be more sustainable

We’ve launched a low-carbon staff transport policy, by which all employees can claim additional days’ leave when they choose lower carbon transport options for their personal trips and holidays.

We’ve added five EV chargers at the office and are working with Octopus on an EV scheme for staff, in addition to the existing Cycle to Work scheme and contribution towards rail fares for those that commute by train.

8. We're making our marketing more sustainable

We’ve continued to reduce our brochure sizes and print runs, reducing our automatic mailing in favour of brochures by-request and enabling online access to a digital brochure. Our family brochure pagination reduced 50% this year, with an 8.5% decrease in print run, while our combi brochure run was reduced by 34%. We created a new exhibition stand this year for travel shows which we designed to be as sustainable as possible. We re-used equipment that the stand company already had in stock, from lightboxes to carpet tiles, and old TV screens that were saved from being scrapped. We then used natural and recycled materials wherever possible, e.g. using recycled pallets for the display wall and shelving units, and sofa cushions that are made from British wool and recycled water bottles.

We also choose our digital tools and partners carefully to ensure they have the same values as us. We've created digital adverts with Good Loop, which generates profits for charity through clicks. And when selecting our digital agencies we look for companies that can evidence their sustainability efforts, for example through B-corp accreditation.

One of our marketing KPIs is ensuring that 20% of our communications have some purpose-led messaging. We’ve made a commitment to be open and honest with our customers – about our successes in but also about our challenges, and keeping everyone in the loop with what we’re working on and the steps we’re taking as well as drawing their attention to various causes and initiatives around the world that we support.

9. We have an Animal Protection Policy in place to protect wildlife

We have an Animal Protection Policy to protect animals and keep them wild, which has been reviewed in the last year together with ANIMONDIAL and Wild Welfare. We operate a no-contact policy on trips and have implemented a traffic light system that categorises every interaction we have with animals on every trip - this is independently audited every year.

10. We work with Ecologi to plant trees

Ecologi invests money in a broad range of projects that are able to evidence that they are reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Ecologi’s goal is to reduce 50% of global CO2 emissions by 2040 and, alongside its partners, to plant a billion trees – which may not be as crazy as it sounds.

We’ve partnered with Ecologi to plant a tree for every customer that becomes a Platinum loyalty club member, as a nature-positive way to say thank you and reward their loyalty.

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