After almost 40 years of inspiring travellers to visit destinations all over the world, Lonely Planet has launched its own collection of carbon-neutral tours. In collaboration with adventure travel company Intrepid, the new small-group tours will be led by local leaders and support local businesses and communities. The intention of Lonely Planet Experiences is to have minimal impact on the environment, and include carbon-offsetting contributions in the price.
The move is a response to a shift towards travelling more responsibly. In a recent Lonely Planet survey of more than 7,500 members of its online community, 68% said they now care more about sustainable travel than they used to. More than 35% said they had actively factored in environmental sustainability when planning trips.
The new experiences include 200 day tours, operated by Intrepid’s day-tour company Urban Adventures, and more than 130 multi-day trips in 65 countries. Featured are food and drink experiences, walking, cycling, festivals, family and marine adventures, ranging from two-hour excursions to 22-day adventures. The Intrepid tours have been developed by Lonely Planet destination experts, along with data on booking patterns. Each tour includes six months’ free access to Lonely Planet’s Guides App.
Day trips include a walking tour of bohemian Saint-Germain in Paris, a vintage Las Vegas arts trail and a food tour of Tokyo. Longer tours include an 11-day tour of northern India, from Varanasi to Delhi by sleeper train, rickshaw and bus, and an eight-day tour of Italy by train.
“We have a brand that really means something to people. We must be brave and bold to push ourselves into new areas and connect in a meaningful way with our audience,” said Lonely Planet’s CEO, Luis Cabrera.
Intrepid, which has been carbon neutral since 2010, is widely considered an industry leader in responsible tourism. It was the first large international travel company to remove elephant rides from its tours, in 2014, and recently launched a partnership with Offset Earth, planting trees in Kenya to offset carbon emissions. From £4.50 a month, travellers can sign up to plant 12 trees, matched by 12 trees planted by Intrepid.
“Lonely Planet helped pioneer access to more authentic and grassroots experiences for independent travellers,” said James Thornton, CEO of Intrepid. “That’s why we’re thrilled to be part of the next phase of its growth.”
While Lonely Planet has confirmed it won’t be scaling back on printed and digital guidebooks, which will remain its core business, the tours are the latest in a series of new ventures under the direction of Cabrera, who was appointed CEO in February 2019. The aim is to diversify the business and deliver experiences beyond the guidebooks. These have included the acquisition of Trill Travel last April, which helps convert social influencers’ digital content into bookable experiences.
The development follows a similar move by travel book publishers Rough Guides, which launched an online travel company in 2018, aiming to transform its business model away from book sales to become a tech platform providing bespoke holidays.
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