Explore boss calls for ‘environmental transparency’ from firms

The boss of adventure operator Explore says people would “start to care” about the environment if travel firms were more transparent and provided them with details to make informed decisions.

The operator has chosen to label the 515 trips it offers with individually calculated carbon emissions so its customers could “make better choices”.

A recent customer survey, carried out by Explore, showed 76% of those polled said they would like more transparency around what the industry was doing to be more sustainable.

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Managing director Michael Edwards said he and his team were “surprised” by the “really high” 76% figure.

Asked during a Travel Weekly webcast if customers cared about the sustainable travel, Edwards said: “If you give people the transparency, they start to care.

“I think once people have that transparency and knowledge, at least they can make informed decisions.”

He added the carbon calculator would mean Explore would be held to account by customers and if they were disappointed with its sustainability efforts they would book with other operators.

“We can’t put this out and then in five years’ time, we have our highest carbon emitting trips, or still have scores,” he said.

“Our customers will go to operators who have done a better job around protecting the cloud, the climate and the environment.

“It really does hold us to account but we think we’re pretty sure from the research we’ve done that customers definitely want it and they’ll use it.”

Edwards likened the carbon calculator to restaurants that have started to display the number of calories in each dish.

“I am not sure how I feel about that,” he said. “But you can then start to make choices. You might eat less [calories] and offset it with a plate of vegetables.”

He added that Explore customers could see that they were “making a difference”, thanks to the carbon calculator.

“The travel industry doesn’t have to start gnashing its teeth and wonder if we’re the problem,” he said. “We all want to find ways to improve the situation and preserve the legacy of travelling.”

Asked if customers would be asked to contribute to schemes to offset their carbon footprint, Edwards said no plans were in place to do so.

He said over time customers would get comfortable with the idea that there might be an additional cost to collectively combat climate change.

Operators who “jump” on sustainability would “end up attracting more customers”, said Edwards, who noted that would put Explore in a prime selling position.

He suggested Explore would review its decision not to charge customers additional fees to help fight climate change in the future.

“You can cost some of this stuff into trips or you can almost partner with your customer and say ‘hey, we all want to preserve the legacy of traveling for the next generation, so we can maybe do this together’,” Edwards added.

He pointed out how Explore was working with independent charity Rewilding Britain and added that it could work with more rewilding partners across the globe in the future.

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