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Pick your travel company with sustainability at the front of your mind!

Only 35% of school travel companies even bother to mention anything to do with sustainability or responsible tourism on their website. Really?

Since our inception 15 years ago, STC Expeditions has been at the forefront of responsible, sustainable and ethical school travel.

We championed sustainability long before it became ‘peng’. Our credentials in this area have been one of the reasons why teachers choose to travel with us and, once they do travel, it’s the reason they come back again and again (that and cracking good adventures, of course!)

For those of you who know us less well, or for those who aren’t aware of our journey in sustainability, the infographic on our website is here and will bring you quickly up to speed.

So how come STC Expeditions, a relatively small company from deepest darkest Devon, has been at the forefront of sustainability in the school trips market? Good question – especially since bigger and longer established companies than ours should have known better! (We’ve been telling them so since 2013, so they don’t really have an excuse…)

Perhaps it is our strong personal values that mean we have always focused on running an ethical and sustainable travel business. Perhaps it’s the fact we have never been too bothered about what our competitors were up to. Perhaps it’s that we’ve just got on with forging our own path and trying to do the right thing.

Whatever the reason, over the years, we’ve become the first to do many things:

  • First to get the Travelife ‘Excellence in Sustainability’ International Certification (2018).
  • First to commit to using only local leaders on expeditions – recognising the safety and responsible tourism benefits (2013).
  • First to include compulsory carbon mitigation in your trip price (2015).
  • First to offer Fairtrade trips (2014).
  • First to offer ‘women’s perspective’ trips (2014).
  • First to stop selling Iceland due to concerns of over tourism (2017).
  • First to call out orphanages as unsuitable for school volunteering trips (2014).
  • First to present sustainability as an important factor in planning trips to a head teachers conference (2017)
  • First to develop a low carbon, low cost UK expedition programme as an alternative to international expeditions (2020).

Now we want to be first again: First to congratulate some of our competitors for starting to climb aboard the sustainability train and recognise it is important be a sustainable travel business.  Have they been slow? Yes, but it is better late than never and it's great at last to see a few of them making commitments in this area.

As utterly extraordinary as it sounds, unfortunately, there are still many within the school travel community that are yet to even acknowledge the fact they need to be sustainable. A recent survey of the websites of 52 companies within The School Travel Forum found that only 18 (35%) mentioned anything to do with sustainability or responsible tourism on their website. DOH, this is ‘def not peng’. Not only that, but the majority of those companies who did mention it gave the subject a tokenistic mention, at best. I don’t like to shout…. BUT THIS HAS GOT TO CHANGE!  It is within your power to drive this change though your choices. To paraphrase Irvine Welsh ‘choose sustainable’.  

It’s clear the industry has a long way to go, but we hope that by doing the right things others will follow.