Intrepid Travel is urging travel agents to admit their “responsible travel mistakes” in an effort to ensure they have learnt from them.
The operator’s social media-led “travel confessions” campaign will encourage agents, influencers and consumers to share travel activities in which they have participated which they later learned were likely to have been harmful.
Timed to coincide with World Elephant Day, the campaign marks five years since Intrepid claims to have become the first travel company to scrap elephant rides from its trips.
Intrepid chief executive James Thornton has led the way, confessing he rode an elephant in Thailand in 2004.
“This isn’t about reprimanding anyone who has ridden an elephant in the past – we’ve all made mistakes,” said Thornton.
“We’ve come a long way in the past five years, but there is plenty more that can be done. It’s vital we keep the conversation going and continue to educate travellers about ethical animal tourism.”
Intrepid has meanwhile added a range of new elephant-friendly venues on its south-east Asia tours, giving travellers more options to see and experience elephants ethically.
From 2020, passengers on Intrepid’s Laos trips will be able to see elephants at MandaLao Elephant Conservation, the first non-riding sanctuary in Luang Prabang which has 11 elephants.
The centre works with World Animal Protection to promote ethical animal care and to educate tourists, while providing jobs and training in the community.
The Intrepid Foundation, the operator’s non-profit charity, is raising money for the organisation to build a new night enclosure with housing for its mahouts, or elephant handlers.
In Thailand, Intrepid guests will be able to visit ChangChill, an organisation supporting six free roaming elephants in the area and offering opportunities to observe them from a distance.
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Intrepid Travel is a global adventure travel company that has been taking travellers off the beaten track to discover the world's most amazing places for 29 years.