Home » An open letter from Intrepid Travel’s CEO: balancing purpose, people and profit during a global pandemic

An open letter from Intrepid Travel’s CEO: balancing purpose, people and profit during a global pandemic

written by James Thornton April 29, 2020
Intrepid Travel's CEO, James Thornton


For as long as I’ve known Intrepid, the company has never been motivated by money for money’s sake. That’s exactly why I was drawn to it in the first place 15 years ago – it had intentions and motivations beyond just dollar signs.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before.” But let me explain.

Since its inception on a Melbourne kitchen table 31 years ago, Intrepid has been committed to balancing purpose and profit for all of our staff, customers and partners. This global pandemic has made it increasingly challenging to get the balance right.

And in some cases, we haven’t.

Ever since we suspended operations on 14 March for the first time in our 31-year history, our primary focus has been getting more than 3,000 Intrepid travellers home safely as coronavirus spread around the world.

We’ve had to make countless impossible decisions on the fly. Decisions that have ended decades-long careers, decisions that have left families and staff around the world without incomes, decisions that have broken hearts and caused all of our staff and friends a lot of pain.

And we’ve had to make more of these life changing (and business changing) decisions in the past six weeks than the past 31 years combined. We’re an extremely close-knit team at Intrepid, and it’s hit us all hard.

At the same time as all of this has been happening, some of our customers have raised concerns about changes to our booking conditions and our response to their enquiries. Those concerns were absolutely valid. And in the midst of everything we’ve been dealing with, while our intentions have always been good, we could’ve handled some things better.

And I’m sorry we didn’t.

For any customers who feel disappointed with our response to their enquiries during this time, who feel as though we have taken their trust for granted, or who feel like we’ve let them down, I hear you, and I apologise.

As CEO, I take responsibility. I’ve also taken action. We have now formed a critical response team to speed up our processes. Thank you for your patience and support as we have worked through these issues.

As I mentioned above, none of the decisions we have ever made as a business, and especially over the past six weeks, have been motivated by money. Let me demonstrate what I mean by that: we make on average 4% profit on every trip we operate. So, when you purchase a trip from us, 96% of your payment goes to facilitating the experience, paying suppliers and staff, and the business earns 4%. When we sell a trip for $2,000, we make around $80.

That’s how the business has always worked. We try and keep prices down because we want our style of travel to be accessible and affordable. And we put an enormous chunk of that 4% profit back into community and environmental projects around the world that help improve livelihoods, and work towards safeguarding this planet for future generations. The Intrepid Foundation, our charity, has raised over $10m since 2002 alone.

Tree planting in MyanmarThat is not just marketing talk, or spin, or ‘greenwashing’. Everything we do as a business is driven by this purpose. Our trips, by sheer virtue of them existing, help change people’s lives for the better.

Outside of paying our staff to facilitate all of this great work, that is literally where the money, your money, goes. We even report on it every year. You can read our 2019 report here.

The point is that we walk our talk, and in 2018 we were even certified as a B-Corp. In order to achieve that certification, a business needs to meet the highest ethical and moral standards at every single touchpoint. It’s great, yes. But we feel like it’s also literally the least we can do. We want to help try and solve the global issues we’re facing. Being a profitable business puts us in a great position to do that.

We know that responsible travel can be a huge force for good, so we’re finding it especially tough to be a travel company that can’t travel right now.

We had to suspend trips which resulted in 35,000 cancellations from March through to May, and now with no signs of borders reopening, we have been forced to suspend all trips through until the end of September.

This decision further impacts all the people that rely on Intrepid. We’re offering all our customers 110% travel credit for when the world opens up again. We don’t know when that will be – nobody does – but we know that we will be there when it happens.

And the shape Intrepid is in when that does happen depends on all of us – including you.

Nepalese leader in the mountains looking into the distanceSo that’s what we’re asking of our customers: if you can, please take the 110% credit voucher. That will help us plan for the future, it will help us employ countless numbers of people both in our offices and destinations, and it will enable us to offer you the best service and trips imaginable when the world opens up again.

We understand that some of our customers have also lost jobs and income as a result of the pandemic and a credit simply won’t cut it. We are not denying those people refunds, and their wellbeing is extremely important to us.

But for those customers who can afford it: giving those refunds now will make it much harder for us to get back on our feet when this is all over, much harder for us to get back to work, much harder for us to do anything.

So please understand: it isn’t your money, for money’s sake, that we’re interested in. It’s what your bookings and your commitment to travelling with us means for our staff, our local guides around the world, our suppliers, the communities we visit, and the social and environmental causes we believe in.

By accepting that 110% travel credit and keeping your trust in Intrepid, you’re making a down payment on the kind of world you want to see when the worst of this coronavirus epidemic has passed. And, with the help of our staff and local leaders around the world, you will be able to see it.

For the past 31 years Intrepid has done whatever it can to be a genuine force for good. I hope that with your support now, we’ll be able to continue for at least another 31.

Thank you for all of your support. In more ways than one, it means the world to us.


Editor’s notes: this article was updated on 30 April 2020 to reflect the current number of trip suspensions. Unfortunately, due to the impact of the pandemic and the overwhelming amount of comments on this letter, our team have been unable to respond to everyone. We are grateful for the kind thoughts and encouragement shared by many of you and have reached out to any travellers with cancelled trips directly to discuss their situation. As specified in our original booking conditions and within this letter, we are offering refunds to customers who request them and apologise for any delays in responding to enquiries. 


You might also like


Murray Pett June 12, 2020 - 10:01 pm

Are you people all total sycophants or being paid for comment. I also am a veteran of 10 or twelve trips with intrepid but now have been totally burnt, betrayed, and cheated , by your hero. Paid $6800 for a July trip to Africa in February, applied for a refund late February , March , and again in April and May , when it was obvious intrepid could not supply what they sold me, that is they cancelled. I have been promised everything you would expect , like a total refund, but they have all been lies and delaying tactics. This is all spin from a totally dishonest , dishonerable, company. Thier latest offer is $4000 of my $6800 due to unrecoverable costs. They expect me to believe they sent all my money to Emerates and African bus drivers in February ans cant get it back. Class action is my only legal course of action. If you have aaccepted a voucher, be prepared you will be ripped off. Guaranteed.

Carlos Reyes November 7, 2020 - 9:23 pm

Intrepid supplier have and should refund to intrepid without any cancellation fee since it impossible to travel during this pandamic time. Intrepid should refund 100% from the tour fee to all clients who have paid deposit and tour as they are getting full refund from they suppliers for service that have not been rendered.

Meghan Smith December 15, 2020 - 12:24 pm

I’m sure you are aware there is a class action lawsuit against Intrepid for these despicable practices against the customer. I am currently trying to get my refund of 4000$ now for 6 weeks. I cannot believe a company would openly lie and steal from the customers. Are you involved w a lawyer regarding this or have they finally refunded you?

Intrepid Travel December 17, 2020 - 4:35 pm

Hi Meghan, I’m sorry to hear you’ve experienced a delay in receiving a refund. I can confirm that we have processed the refund and it should be in your account in the coming days. If you are don’t receive it soon, please email yourexperience@intrepidtravel.com and a team member will follow up with you directly. We have not been advised of any legal action against Intrepid and we have done our best to be transparent with all our customers throughout what has been a challenging year. We acknowledge we haven’t always got it 100% right and we would like to ensure this is sorted out for you as soon as possible. Thanks for your feedback, Amy.

Ashwani June 4, 2020 - 1:49 pm

We have used intrepid many times over the past years. Unfortunately not in the position to take a credit offer this time. I have been told by Intrepid that there is a flat 15% taken from the total we have paid, seems excessive given our trip was cancelled 8 weeks in advance with no prepaid permits etc. Very disappointed in this. 15% from refunds taken to give 10% extra for credits it seems.

Kyle Davis May 25, 2020 - 9:12 pm

Very disappointed with your company after booking a once in a lifetime trip to Egypt with my wife. Absolutely no mention of these 15% unrecoverable costs that have somehow appeared in an “updated” terms and conditions from Intrepid. Absolutely appalling behaviour to take money from your customers for a service you couldn’t not provide. I will be taking your company to all relevant authorities in Australia, until I receive the full 100% refund of all money. Very disappointing

Amanda March 2, 2021 - 3:14 pm

We also had Egypt trip booked
Peregrine cancelled offering credit
We accepted at the time. One year on and we can see that travelling to Egypt not in our near future.
Therefore, we asked for all our money refunded only to be told they will keep $1,000 of our money. No service provided! They will have recouped all monies (if any) outlayed.
How do they live with themselves knowing they are stealing from their customers (not any more). Am currently going down the dept fair trading and legal advise to get this $1,000 back
Curious if you were successful in getting yours back. Any advice taken gladly
No one likes being ripped off!!!

Intrepid Travel March 5, 2021 - 12:49 pm

Hi, Amanda, these unrecoverable costs are expenses associated with your booking, which unfortunately cannot be recouped. This can include accommodation, transport and activity providers in the destination. By choosing to book with Peregrine or Intrepid you also choose to purchase the expertise and service of our staff, who are based in more than 30 countries around the world, who work together to deliver the safe and sustainable experiences that you expect when you travel with us. That’s why we’re asking you to consider taking a credit, which can be used any time in any destination that suits you. By doing this, you’re not only supporting Intrepid but all the local communities we work with who have been negatively impacted by the lack of tourism due to the pandemic. Thank you for your support and understanding.    

Amelia Heldt May 23, 2020 - 7:32 pm

To James and the Intrepid family, I’ve not taken a trip with you yet. But as a travel blogger and content creator who cares about the impact of my travels, I’ve always had you in mind, and was planning to take one sometime next year. This email/letter was so well written, and so reflects the values of your company (not to mention the transparency!! wow). That I am even more pumped to take a trip with you when this is all over.
With much respect, and positive vibes, looking forward to travelling with you soon.

Beamer Smith May 23, 2020 - 4:14 am

I’m happy to wait as long as it takes to get thing back to “normal” My only concern is that next year when I rebook, that the price will exceed the amount I already have in the till. As you can imagine, my income has been affected by the lockdown as well, and I cannot simply walk away as my flights are locked in -no refund there-
So you see there are a number of balls in the air here
Waiting and watching and hoping

Patrick Joseph Rice May 22, 2020 - 11:24 pm

An excellent Message , James Thornton , really well composed and unlike the pathetic messages from the High Street Tour Companies here in the UK . Having enjoyed 7 Trips with Intrepid since 2013 , I look forward to another , hopefully , in 2021 and many more after that – our world is out there to be discovered . Sincerely Yours , Patrick Rice .

Brian Scott May 22, 2020 - 1:59 pm

Many thanks for your reply, and every Travel Company is being effected by the coronavirus issues. We have only travelled with you once through Turkey and Greece last year and the experience was amazing. We scheduled a trip to Spain and Portugal in August and September this year but unfortunately it has been cancelled. Many thanks for the credit offer, but we will be unable to accept it, and proceed with a full refund, less any friendly cancellation fee. My wife and I are in our senior years. We have now committed to travel around Australia independently from now on. You provide and amazing experience, and will pass on your company to anyone we speak to who wants to have a similar experience, but it is a shame we missed out this year.

Heidi Bortner May 22, 2020 - 1:12 am

Thank you for this clear and honest letter. Newly retired, I had expected to resume traveling with Intrepid before the current calamity hit. All my dreams (as have everyone’s) have been put on indefinite hold. Am staying home to stay safe (and alive) – and cannot wait to book with Intrepid again. The 2 trips I took with Intrepid were fantastic. I only wish I had heard of Intrepid earlier in my life! See you all when the smoke clears.

Genevieve Rohan May 22, 2020 - 12:54 am

My husband and I have loved each of our Intrepid trips and we look forward to our next adventures with you. Our hearts go out to the people who have lost their jobs, the people who had to cancel their long awaited adventures and to all the people who have been impacted by Covid 19. Is there a way we can donate to a fund to support your staff around the world as we wait out this virus?
Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. When it is safe to travel again I hope that people put their money into firms like Intrepid that treat their staff and customers with respect. If we support ethical businesses with our money now they have a better chance to make it through this rough patch.

Andrea May 21, 2020 - 10:28 pm

I’m a well travelled Intrepid Traveller having done over 10 trips. I was half way through an Intrepid trip when the COVID restrictions came into play. Intrepid handled the situation very well, and the communication from head office to our group leader to the group was first class. James – your letter is exactly what the Intrepid customers want and we know we can rely on Intrepid to do your best. Everyone is affected by COVID in some way; everyone is suffering and with that comes frustration. I have my voucher. I’m taking a deep breathe, and I’ll be back as soon as is the world opens it doors again.

Joan Myra Martin May 21, 2020 - 9:35 pm

I noted the advised flight for my India trip and then I booked a night flight instead. It meant that my group were on a train to Agra when my plane was still in the air. Intrepid called me and suggested that instead of a very expensive change of flight they would meet my flight and have a car take me to the hotel in Agra to join the others. The cost was minimal and it all went like clockwork. Now, I’m planning another trip, and Yes, of course, I will take a voucher. Fare Well and Prosper, Intrepid.

Amy May 21, 2020 - 7:50 pm

Very well written explanation, and as some who works in hospitality, I agree 100%. Don’t cancel- rebook or postpone. It makes all the difference in the world for the future- for when a hotel reopens, or a tour guide works again, etc. I just moved my trip to June2021, and despite being currently on unpaid for an indefinite period of time while we wait to see when the world reopens, I will travel again… stay strong and stay positive.

Dianne Sandom May 21, 2020 - 6:58 pm

I have travelled with yourselves many times as I love the way that you help the communities and let us see the country how it really is. As you have given me so much, it is only fair that I pay you back as best I can. I have a holiday booked in October and I am more than willing to take a credit voucher. I’m not bothered about the extra 10% because I understand what immense pressure the world and yourselves are under. I will travel with you for many years to come hopefully and appreciate all that you do.

Drs . Douglas and Paula Fillak May 21, 2020 - 6:46 pm

We have traveled with Intrepid five times now and just got back from your Galápagos trip right before the Pandemic hit. We cant wait to go on another trip. Our next trip will be to Peru on the trek to Machu Piccu. As Americans , you afforded us with the opportunity to travel to Cuba , a life changing trip. Every guide we have had has been excellent!!! Good luck and can’t wait for our next adventure with Intrepid!

wendy Johnson May 21, 2020 - 2:48 pm

We have used Intrepid to visit Thailand, South Africa and India. Thank you James for a well written open letter. I sincerely hope your business manages to overcome these difficulties.

Lynne Morris May 21, 2020 - 1:22 pm

My daughter and I trekked the Inca Trail to Manchu Picchu last summer. We had such a wonderful time we scheduled a trip to Armenia this year. We should have just arrived home today. When the trip was cancelled, we rescheduled for September. It has been cancelled again so we rescheduled once again, this time for May of 2021. We love the care we were given in Peru and also the wonderful help you’ve given us rescheduling this trip. We plan on rescheduling until we are finally allowed to go!

Susan Schreiber May 21, 2020 - 12:52 pm

Thank you for your letter James. I treasure your company and you will see more of me in the future. I have told many friends to travel with you as your trips reflect a caring ideology for the world, people as well as the environment. Hoping you and your team can stay strong knowing your clients support you.

Gary Samuels May 21, 2020 - 9:53 am

My wife and I have notched up 17 and 15 Intrepid trips respectively and had another planned this year.
We are very happy to defer to when we can travel again.

Jill Chapman May 21, 2020 - 9:39 am

I started travelling with Intrepid in 2000 and am a ‘brand loyal’ with 18 fantastic trips under my belt and two booked for early 2021.
Your open and informative letter just reaffirms my trust in Intrepid as a responsible , ethical and professional travel provider.
With numerous destinations still on my ‘bucket list’ I am looking forward to many more Intrepid adventures in the years to come.

Thank you Intrepid – my life has been much richer for the experience.

Dee May 21, 2020 - 8:15 am

I want my money back you snakes
You have no right no keep money if people don’t want to travel with you in the future .
I doubt this will be published but shoe some respect fir people who Didn’t want to cancel

J September 4, 2020 - 2:55 pm

Well put.

LS King May 21, 2020 - 7:41 am

Lovely response and I am looking forward to continuing adventures with Intrepid and your local guides. Intrepid has brought me safely through Kenya, Tanzania, Turkey, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. That being said, it was a close call for me to cancel my Inca Trail trip on March 12 with 2 hours before leaving for the airport. I have to be honest, I was disappointed that Intrepid forced a 50% cancellation fee on us travelers well through March 14, and on March 13 declared Force Majeure on 5 trips including the Inca Trail, declaring that they have no liability to perform. Having lived through Force Majeure wartime events in 1991, I knew this was not correct and took screenshots of this, because Intrepid removed the Peruvian government alert that the Inca Trail was officially closed until March 15. The Force Majeure declaration was removed within 24 hours and finally all trips cancelled by March 16 (except Australia?). By then, all Peru borders were closed by land, sea and air. While we all have never seen this type of pandemic or event in our lives, I respectfully am posting the above as a lessons learned and audit trail of how not to put it on the traveler to cancel a trip at great financial risks and poor corporate legal advice when none of us, including Intrepid, have control over the borders and quarantine situations. I appreciate the 110% credit and look forward to traveling to Peru sometime in the future with Intrepid.

Karen Williams May 21, 2020 - 7:22 am

I wasn’t given a choice in regards to a travel voucher or a refund. I requested a refund and was told I would revive a credit. Initially I thought okay I’ll support intrepid, but when looking at the exact trip in the same month next year it is $700 more expensive….that eats up any extra 10% credit applied and forces me to be further out of pocket. This whole experience has left a bad taste in my mouth and my hard earned money sitting in someone else’s pocket and I don’t understand where the fairness in that is.

Alison May 21, 2020 - 7:18 am

We did the Cambodian traveller tour last year and was booked to do Morocco in April. We have taken the credit note to transfer the funds to a Vietnam Tour for 2021 . We need to support Intrepid in these difficult times so the firm is there to continue their great wotk in the future.
Keep safe everyone . X

Darley Adare May 21, 2020 - 7:02 am

What a beautiful and touching letter, James! Now more than ever I look forward to traveling with Intrepid. I have been vegan for 33 years and so am very interested in your vegan trips when we are once again free to travel. Thank you for offering a way to explore the world with integrity.

Judith strachan May 21, 2020 - 5:58 am

A very honest letter from a very honest travel company.
We enjoyed a trip to Iran and hope to travel with you again.

Ian Loveday May 21, 2020 - 5:52 am

I appreciate the horrible position companies like Intrepid are in. Really. But I was disappointed by my treatment. I took your offer to pay a deposit (in January) and pay the balance later. In my case the deadline was 17 March, by which time Coronavirus had become an issue, though not yet a global disaster. Unsure if I should still pay my balance, I was reassured on 13 March to receive an email (yes from you, James) saying my booking was protected and I could choose 150 percent credit or a full refund (less ‘unrecoverable costs’) if it was cancelled. So I paid my full balance on 15 March. On the 23 March I received an email that all your tours were cancelled. But when I got through on the phone the attitude had changed. I was told I could have just 110 percent credit, and a refund was not possible. The tone was one stop short of surly, as if it was stupid referring to the earlier email or to your legal obligations. I was told you had “changed your policy”. Mmmm, no email about that was received. In my personal circumstances I want a refund.

Teresa Eggemeyer May 21, 2020 - 5:36 am

I was supposed to fly to Scotland today for an Intrepid trip. Sadly we could not. I love Intrepid Travel and have been on 7 Intrepid trips and intend to go on many more. Looking forward to the next one!

Paul Mc Govern May 21, 2020 - 5:21 am

This is a very balanced and fair response to the current situation. It also complies with the companies legal obligations, if a little late. In any event , I will have no hesitation in travelling with intrepid again. Hopefully the other companies will follow suit.

Ronny May 21, 2020 - 5:19 am

James, thank you for your genuine letter. I have done 10 trips with Intrepid with countless memorable experiences. You are leading a great company and I was proud to become a „Legend“ customer last year. Will definitely travel again with Intrepid when international travel opens up. Wishing you and the team all the best and that the company is able to stay resilient in this extraordinary situation.

Joy May 21, 2020 - 5:10 am

I have been telling everybody about my fabulous Intrepid trip to Jordan last year.
After reading your letter, I am even more inspired to recommend Intrepid. Thanks for showing everyone, what a great world it is, out there!

Leah McGhee May 21, 2020 - 4:45 am

We started our year with Intrepid and can’t wait to travel with Intrepid again!

Nick Jones May 21, 2020 - 4:08 am

It was a great letter and I know it was sincere. I was just on the point of booking with you to Tanzania, cycling being my thing. Have no fear, I will definitely still be doing so over the next few weeks or as the situation clarifies. I was on your Cycle Vietnam trip earlier this year before COVID struck. It was a fantastic trip and I intend to take many more with Intrepid. I wish you all good luck and hope you get some breaks soon.

Carlos Munoz Martinez May 21, 2020 - 3:45 am

We ( myself and my wife ) have traveled on numerous trips with Intrepid over the last few years. While we still travel on our own, the Intrepid experience has been wonderful. We are full fledged Intrepid “Legends” and health permitting will continue to be in the future.
We have and will continue to recommend Intrepid to friends and acquaintances.
We had a 1 Euro deposit ( you reservation program)on a trip for this year which we gladly donate to your fund.
Health and Our best wishes to you and all the Intrepid family.

Christopher Welsh May 21, 2020 - 3:30 am

A very well written and honest Letter and I am sure like most people that use Intrepid, we are travellers that will not give up the travel bug due to this pandemic.

I truly believe as a sign of good faith it would be a good idea maybe to re-introduce the Legends programme that you sadly stopped running in July 2019

Dana Capozzella May 21, 2020 - 3:24 am

My husband and I traveled with your company in 2018 to Peru and Bolivia. We loved every minute of it. When we are allowed to travel again – we will travel with Intrepid again. We love your company’s philosophy and values. We did not have any trips this year. I hope if people are financially able to – that they will take the 110% credit as that is amazingly generous. Thank you for your letter.

Jenn May 21, 2020 - 3:18 am

Thank you! I love traveling with y’all and all the people I have met along the way. I work for megalithic US based travel company and was so impressed by the offers of credit. We offered something similar for some of our brands. I know first hand the horror from a business perspective so taking the credit plus some felt like such a warm gesture. Its hard to protect your people and the travelers in all of this. I can’t wait to reschedule my Borneo trip and dreaming of future trips.

Jennifer Grant May 21, 2020 - 2:35 am

Thanks, James, for your heartfelt letter. I have taken 7 trips with Intrepid and seen and done things I never dreamed I would do. The philosophy and ethics of your company has always been impressive. My trip to Jordan was cancelled and I was very happy to take the credit – you’ve always treated me well so it seemed an opportunity to return the favour. My best wishes to you and your global family as you navigate these difficult times. I have dreams of lots more travel with Intrepid.

Jennifer May 21, 2020 - 2:31 am

We have been on 2 Intrepid tours and love your company philosophy. We got home from Cambodia 2 weeks before lockdown! We have met so many people and seen and experienced wonderful things on our trips. I appreciate you keeping in touch with us and wish you and your staff all the best in these challenging times. We are already planning our next trip with you for when the world opens again.

Alanna May 21, 2020 - 12:23 am

This letter simply deepened my loyalty to your company. Thank you for the well written, vulnerable and transparent missive. Wishing the best for Intrepid and everyone’s lives the company touches.

Rosemary May 21, 2020 - 12:11 am

An honest and open letter from an honest and open company! We did one trip with you to Morocco which gave us a fantastic insight into the lives of the people there. Unfortunately I have developed a brain tumour, so we don’t know if we will be able to do any more travelling, but if we can Intrepid will be the first place we will look

Bill Hildreth May 20, 2020 - 11:17 pm

Thank you for the note, this was to be our first trip with Intrepid to Greece in September ,( a life long dream) we will be happy to re-book and accept your current offer. It is critical and important to communicate your intentions in a more timely manner in the future, respectfully. All we really want is some assurance that we are not in jeopardy of losing our money on deposit. We have other trips booked and airline tickets etc. and the travel industry has done a poor job of defending their clients positions. Please live up to your word and honor your clients good faith. Cheers

Lindy Ryan May 20, 2020 - 10:35 pm

I have enjoyed 7 fabulous Intrepid holidays. I look forward to enjoying many more. I am thinking of all the Intrepid guides that made all my holidays . I am hoping them and their families are okay and being looked after. It sounds like you are all working hard to keep the Trips going again when everything settles. Intrepid small groups offer a great travel experience I am looking forward to enjoying them again and supporting the Intrepid staff and associated projects .

Peter and Julie Di Pietro May 20, 2020 - 9:16 pm

We had been coming up for our 10th trip with your company. A company we’ve praised and recommended to so many.
We will certainly support you and your staff here and all the good work you do helping communities around the world.
All the best for the future.

Patricia Husband May 20, 2020 - 8:51 pm

Thank you for your honesty and for speaking from the heart. The world could use more leaders like you. I have three bookings for this year and am very happy to be offered a credit. I got the Australian brochure out the other day to look at trips within Australia that I could do once we are allowed to travel within Australia. Please keep the company going as I love travelling with Intrepid and have a lot on my bucket list to tick off. Stay safe and take care.

Kevin Player May 20, 2020 - 8:15 pm

I have not yet traveled with Intrepid, i almost booked a trip to India in March that would of been canceled.
I have wondered how many travel companies will survive this pandemic and i hope yours is one of them.
I fully intend to travel as soon as possible once borders and countries open again and i hope to use your company to do so.
Thank you for your honest and heartfelt letter.
Good luck and best wishes

Alfie May 20, 2020 - 6:39 pm

I will be rebooking my Tehran, Baku, Tbilisi trip as soon as I am allowed to travel overseas by the govt.

Elizabeth Smith May 20, 2020 - 4:41 pm

I’ve loved all the trips I’ve taken with both Intrepid and Peregrine and am happy to take the credit. I’ve met some lovely people, made some wonderful friends and appreciated the well-organised and well-informed tour guides on tours to places like Borneo, Peru, India and China. I had booked a tour of Ethiopia in April and Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia in Sept this year. I’d still love to visit these destinations so am hoping to be able to do that in the not-too-distant future. I have travel plans for several more years as well, with Intrepid and Peregrine as my Tour Companies of choice. Keep up the good work.

Alison May 20, 2020 - 3:59 pm

I am happy to take the 110% credit to help keep the company afloat I have travelled extensively with many companies and Individually.I also have a travel background. Intrepid and its beliefs are the best.First travel with Intrepid was to Vietnam in 1998.I was to do my 9th and 10th back to back in April returning last week.2021 is my aim but if need be 2022 or later depending on the virus,borders and flights.

Jolene Purdy May 20, 2020 - 3:53 pm

I should be in Uzbekistan now, on my first intrepid adventure, airline cancelled just at the beginning of the turmoil so Intrepid booking was not quite completed (paid tithe $1 deposit only) so will be definitely booking with your company once everything is up and running again, so looking forward to experiencing this country with you.

Alexis Southern May 20, 2020 - 2:24 pm

Won’t move off Intrepid travel at all. Amazing company and holidays I’ve had with them. Till we meet againn

Eden Dietrich May 20, 2020 - 2:15 pm

I was getting close to booking when all of this happened. As soon as you are up and running, I will definitely be booking a trip with you. It’s just so hard to choose one when you first begin! I will talk to your staff first to get ideas.

Naturally, I am sure everyone is hoping for your successful restart without too much loss for you. All the best.

Anonymous May 20, 2020 - 1:15 pm

I agree with many of the previous comments and I very much appreciate the CEO’s efforts in presenting a clear picture of what the company is about and where it is at presently in this awful crisis. I will definitely be booking more tours (I’ve done 8 so far across 4 continents) once travel opens up again across borders.

Mandy May 20, 2020 - 12:42 pm

Thanks James. I love the Intrepid way of responding travel. I fully support your position and look forward to rebooking before too long. All the best to Intrepid and your team members.

Barbara and Paul Watson May 20, 2020 - 12:41 pm

We have done 5 Intrepid trips since 2016 and should be doing 2 more back to back trips right now. So that speaks volumes about our respect and admiration for Intrepid. I was asked a few years ago what companies I felt I could really trust and the ONLY one I could confidently say that I trust completely is Intrepid. You have given us some remarkable experiences and we know there are many more to come. So to all Intrepid staff and customers yes, we are in this together and will will come through it and be back exploring our globe again one day. Patience can be so frustrating though!

Sue May 20, 2020 - 11:51 am

I have used Intrepid for trips to Peru and Morocco. These were two destinations that I just had to visit and how wonderful were they. Intrepid looked after me before and during the trips. James your letter was well written and informative, hopefully your travellers will take the credit and help Intrepid and all who are attached to Intrepid.

Leanne Denaro May 20, 2020 - 1:52 pm

I have travelled many times with intrepid and will in the future. More than happy to wait for a credit.

Kathleen goleby May 21, 2020 - 7:34 am

Hi I have travelled with your company twice and have I hold my tour operators in great admiration for the detication and I am very aware that they and family’s are without incomes so I have sent some financially help to them because I hold them dear to my heart and there family so please everybody do consider to travel and support these people and intrepid really support their staff and really care about the communities and there welfare:)

Darren Simpson May 21, 2020 - 3:55 pm

Thanks James. Right now, I would of been travelling through Poland. I sympathise with the predicament we are all in at the moment. I have done a number of tours with Intrepid & had a sensational experience. I will take the travel credit & hopefully will be able to do the tour next year. Cheers

Helen Burns May 22, 2020 - 1:11 am

Hi to you all at Intrepid,
Such a difficult time for you all, I have travelled with you to Morocco, Myanmar, Vietnam and Costa Rica and loved all of my trips with you. I still keep intouch with some of my guides and I know what a really tough time they are having now they have lost their jobs.
I really hope to travel again with you to see more amazing places on our beautiful planet safe in the knowledge that I will be well looked after by your wonderful guides.
Sending love to you all, stay strong
Helen xx

Rayeanne Serrano May 22, 2020 - 1:51 pm

Its my first time to travel with intrepid and even though my trip got cancelled half way, it was the best trip I’ve had so far! I have met wonderful humans and our leader Fatih is amazing! He looked after us and made sure we are able to get on our flights back home safely.
Intrepid is amazing at what you guys do and having amazing leaders who genuinely cares for the group is testament to the companys vision!

Jan May 20, 2020 - 11:48 am

Thank you so much for my 2 credits for Morocco and Ethiopia that I had to cancel in March. I love travelling with your company (that would have been my 10th trip in 8 years!) and cannot wait to get back to it. Best wishes for the future. Take care and stay safe.

Marilyn May 20, 2020 - 11:46 am

I should have been arriving in Morrocco today, with my Ledgends trip to start on 22nd. Fully understand that the world is a different place and have taken a credit for future trip with Intrepid, I really enjoy all the experiences I,ve had and the marvellous leaders and experiences I,ve enjoyed on the trips. Can’t wait until I can get back on the road again and experience more of our wonderful world. Stay safe leaders, families, organisers of wonderful times, and fine friends that I,ve met along the way. Thank you all.

Greg May 20, 2020 - 11:22 am

My wife and l hane been on 14 trips with Intrepid and are booked to go to Azerbaijan and Georgia in September this year. It is disappointing to have this cancelled but beyond your control. We will certainly accept an invoice and happily travel with you once the restrictions are lifted. Stay strong!

Gay Anderson May 20, 2020 - 11:09 am

Thank you so much for your letter and information. I didn’t have a trip planned with you this year but in the past I’ve travelled to South America, Morocco, The Balkans, Nairobi to Cape Town with you. I’ve loved the trips and made great friends through it. I certainly hope that I can travel with you again in the future. I am always recommending your Company to people I meet.

Robyn May 20, 2020 - 11:02 am

I love your company and will be travelling with you again as the world opens up again. Hoping everyone appreciates your generosity and takes the credit so Intrepid can get through this time and come out the other end.

Nola Henderson May 20, 2020 - 10:50 am

I will be booking my trip as aoon a we know we can travel again
Cuba bound excited and determined, my trip to India changed my life without sounding dramitic and will be itching to get back to the world as soon as I can
Thank you for giving people amazing opportunities

Darryl Taylor May 20, 2020 - 10:50 am

I have traveled with Intrepid over the past 12 Years. Your “Responsible Travel” ethics, make travel a real and rewarding life experience. Giving both the local destination communities and the traveler an opportunity for cultural exchange and friendship.
I presently have two tours booked, and will continue to travel with Intrepid for many years to come.
Wishing all your staff both local and international, safe travels and hope to see you on the road again soon.

Tracey Blandford May 20, 2020 - 10:39 am

Intrepid is an amazing company and provides for amazing adventures with memories I’ll treasure forever, I’ll be travelling again the moment I am allowed, please be kind in this time and think of those people and countries we need to support to keep our wanderlust dreams alive!

Rose Gordon May 20, 2020 - 10:28 am

I will be with you when I can………

Rhonda May 20, 2020 - 10:20 am

Thank you to everyone at intrepid a well oiled machine I am happy to support always. I am ready to do business with you when you reopen.

Mark Adler May 20, 2020 - 10:19 am

James, you have probably developed the best travel companies in the World. Therefore, I am happy to support the credit of booked trips. We would have been floating down the Mekong through Lau and truly want to rebook
this trip. There is a chance though, that global travel will not resume until 2022. You may need to extend the expiry date of credit/ vouchers. So looking forward to doing that Intrepid tour.

Carl Halvorsen May 20, 2020 - 10:18 am

My 3rd Intrepid trip was to be in September however I have been successful in transferring everything to September 2021 including airfares and accommodation. I and my 2 fellow traveling companions have no hesitation in continuing to support Intrepid.

Joan & Rock OKeefe May 20, 2020 - 10:12 am

We have done many trips with you -both Intrepid & Peregrine – always wonderful and recommended.
We wish you continuing success in all you do & your ethics with helping peoples of the world.
Congratulations on being awarded B Corps certification. Please God we will be with you again in to near future.

Brett & Gayle Harris May 20, 2020 - 10:05 am

Intrepid Travel we love you and hope to be travelling with you as soon as we are able! Thank you for the fondest of memories we treasure from the places you have helped us visit.

Michelle Barry May 20, 2020 - 10:03 am

Thank you for the first open and honest comment from a travel CEO so far. Having worked in the industry I understand the business side issues, however most ‘normal’ every day Aussies don’t. This pandemic has taken everyone by surprise, has shaken the travel industry, and ordinary, hard-working people have not only lost jobs, but money in lost travel as well. If more travel companies would take the time to explain things clearly, show compassion to their customers and a genuine empathy for this whole sorry situation, I believe most people that could take a credit would. Your letter shows the heart of your company and whilst I haven’t yet personally travelled with Intrepid, I’ve always loved what you as a company stand for and will continue to sing your praises to others. As a local Melburnian, I will also always encourage the support of a true homegrown product. Good luck and let’s hope to see you back up and running soon!

Nicole May 20, 2020 - 10:02 am

More than happy to take a credit to ensure the business stays open and I get to travel again with you. I enjoyed my first trip so much with you to Vietnam, you were my go to when I looked at my next overseas trip. I hope people are kind and understanding given the circumstances, and if they can, take the credit. I am looking forward to booking another trip when the world reopens. Great, open honest letter, I wish everyone at Intrepid the best, good luck guys

Betty Rieder May 20, 2020 - 9:50 am

I have travelled with you several times and the experience has been amazing every time. I am definitely taking the credit and hope to travel again with you when the world reopens. To you and all your staff all the best and stay safe.

Bridget May 20, 2020 - 9:46 am

We were supposed to have gone to Borneo in April, but made the decision to cancel in February before the world went haywire. As this was before all the current cancellation policies, we were refunded the whole booking less our deposit which we’ve been told can be held and transferred to another trip providing we book within 6 months.
Assuming this is still the case, we’re currently reviewing what intrepid trips will be available in our own country for our next travels.
We had a fantastic experience with Intrepid in 2018 in the Galapagos and Peru, and we are both looking forward to many more in future.
Thank you for all you do, your dedication to your staff and the planet. Hoping if we all stick together, we can come out of this in a better way than we went in.

Deb May 20, 2020 - 9:45 am

I will look forward to my trip in 2021 to Morocco and thank you for your honesty

Mark Flavell May 20, 2020 - 9:28 am

Thanks for the update James. We have done over 10 trip with Intrepid since 2012 and had two booked for this year. We are happy to take the voucher option as we want Intrepid to survive as it’s such an amazing organization. Can’t wait until this current situation is over and we can rebook our trips.
Stay Safe

Rod and Maria Williams May 20, 2020 - 9:19 am

Thank you James for your openness and willingness to be responsible. We enjoyed our Morocco tour with your sister, Peregrine, and after reading your letter, are now more motivated than ever to sign up to an Intrepid tour. Well done. May you and the whole global Intrepid community flourish!

Deborah Sullivan May 20, 2020 - 9:14 am

Die-hard Intrepid supporter. See you on the other side.

Bruce C May 20, 2020 - 9:11 am

Your early offer to credit and generous delay timeframe was a relief. Your honest communication makes us feel good about traveling with you and supporting your great local and international crew members. I’ll always recommend you. Keep doing good stuff and creating jobs wherever you take us. Cheers.

Narelle Cash May 20, 2020 - 9:06 am

This gives a further insight into the devastation the virus has created to so many people. I can’t wait for the world to open up again and Intrepid Travel will be my first point of call once again. Take care and keep safe everyone.

Karen McIvor May 20, 2020 - 9:04 am

I’ve experienced 10 Intrepid tours and can’t wait for more. Your ethical values are a strong draw card for me, along with the wonderful tours. Don’t have any tours booked but will booking when Australia opens up. I want to travel local for a while. Good luck, you’re an awesome company.

Deborah May 20, 2020 - 9:01 am

I have always intended to accept the credit (and still plan to) because I want to do the trip when it becomes possible again. I also want your company (and the others) to still be around when that time comes. I was lucky enough to do an Intrepid trip just before this pandemic started and am itching to get on another one. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed it won’t be too long.

Denise Kiley May 20, 2020 - 8:59 am

I’m right behind you James. I can’t wait until I am able to spend my credit voucher, and I promise that it won’t be my last trip with Intrepid. I have had wonderful experiences travelling with your company, and would hate to see companies like yours not survive these difficult times. All the best for your self and your colleagues, and I sincerely hope that Intrepid is not too badly damaged in the current situation.

Geoff Maloney May 20, 2020 - 8:58 am

Was off to Java in August. Would have been our 6th trip with Intrepid. Will gladly accept the credit as opposed to a refund as Intrepid have always been more than fair and true to their word re sustainable travel.
Example. We moved from a hostel during a trip in 2015 as everything was plastic. Plates, cups, knives forks etc. Mentioned this in the review and without prompting or asking Intrepid refunded our nights accommodation.
A class travel organisation that truly cares for customers over profit.

Bernadette Cromarty May 20, 2020 - 8:54 am

Totally behind your decision and the company. I had two trips booked and really want Intrepid to continue as a viable company. I respect your ethics and that is why I choose Intrepid.

The Durkin family May 20, 2020 - 8:51 am

We ‘discovered’ Intrepid not long ago and in that time, my family of five have enjoyed the most amazing and memorable adventures of some amazing lands. Your comments are genuine and once again make me deeply reflect on the current circumstances of the guides and people we have encountered on our journeys. We wish you and your wider world wide time all the best in incredibly difficult circumstances.

Anonymous May 20, 2020 - 8:45 am

A smart business strategy for a company many of us hope will survive these times. thank you. And thanks to those willing to accept the voucher too. My wonderful 3 Intrepid trips in the past have only encouraged me to do more in the future.

Trevor Hay May 20, 2020 - 8:41 am

C’mon Premiers – be brave- open the state borders! Trust people to do the right thing as most have so far. Lets get people back to work.

Rhonda Wagner May 20, 2020 - 8:35 am

I have deferred our Silk Road trip to next year ( Would just be returning now if this year had gone ahead ), hoping that if we are still not able to travel then , that it can be still further deferred ,have done many trips with you guys all over the world ,even tho I’m getting a bit long in the tooth ,hopefully there will be many more. A great company Intrepid .

Freda Backes May 20, 2020 - 8:33 am

we love intrepid. we worry for all the wonderful people who made our holidays so very memorable. drivers and guides, residents who welcomed us in to their homes, accommodation and food providers etc. thank you for years of exciting travel including a Moroccan family trip in January with our son and grandson…what memories!!!! long may you survive and provide!!

Janelle May 20, 2020 - 8:32 am

Happy to take the credit. All the best Intrepid, I look forward to making more trips with you. Great, ethical company.

Catherine Wheatley May 20, 2020 - 8:32 am

Thank you for your honesty. Weve had 3 amazing tailor made trips with Intrepid, the last one in 2019 to Central America. The experiences you offer & the expertise of your guides make for life changing holidays. Once we are able we’ll be back exploring with you.

Paul Scarfe May 20, 2020 - 8:25 am

Great letter written from the heart, helped to convince me to book my next adventure with Intrepid, I look forward to traveling with Intrepid when the pandemic recedes.

Cheryl May 20, 2020 - 8:24 am

Good letter, well written and informative. I do hope Intrepid can keep operating.
I do have concerns for your leaders whom I assume have no income.
Are they being looked after at all?
I wish you all the best for the future.

Rick May 20, 2020 - 8:22 am

Respect! My hope is the mission and values of intrepid somehow transcend to all people.

Helen Jenkinson May 20, 2020 - 8:13 am

Thankyou for your honesty. As a loyal Intrepid customer and one that had three trips booked with you for the year, I for one have had positive experiences when changing bookings and your service team has been wonderful. Keep up the good work and I can’t wait for the borders to reopen in Australia and I can start exploring again with your company. As a healthcare worker we are grateful that your company has taken measures to ensure the safety of your employees and travelers alike. Stay home and stay safe

Rosemary Sullivan May 20, 2020 - 8:11 am

Good stuff! Worth waiting for. The credit is fine with me.

Elizabeth Bonadio May 20, 2020 - 8:09 am

I didn’t have any trips planned, but have gone on 8 trips with Intrepid in the past and was looking forward to booking another one through Africa! Stay strong, you’re tours are amazing and the people who you employee fantastic! I hope I’ll be travelling with you again soon.

Sherryl Neale May 20, 2020 - 6:47 am

Really liked your letter, totally happy with the offer of a voucher – appreciate the 10% bonus, already looking forward to doing my trip July 2021 instead of 2020. Been travelling with Intrepid for quite a few years now, have no plans to change – always well organised, affordable, and you just seem to go to all the places I want to go. See you next year.

Trudi Neill May 20, 2020 - 6:30 am

From the bottom of my heart we applaude your honesty and openness during these difficult times. We have 2 trips booked for Africa for September 2020, and we are happily now awaiting September 2021. Lets hope the world has recovered enough for you to continue the legacy that is Intrepid.
Thank you from New Zealand. Trudi and Steve Neill

John May 16, 2020 - 6:12 pm

It’s a bit disgusting that you only post positive replies. You are clearly filtering replies to make yourselves look good. Awful attitude.

Wietske May 15, 2020 - 2:21 am

I would have hopped on that plane today to explore Central Asia with you if the world had been a normal place. Instead I received a voucher with my credit in the mail. I am right behind you in this decision and our time will come again to make up for it. Take good care and be safe and wishing all the very best for you and your wonderful staff worldwide.

Graeme Herps May 9, 2020 - 6:55 am

Your people have No concepts of CRM or post emergency financial recoveries.
I have enjoyed Intrepid trips in Croatia and Japan, tolerated one across Baltic States Poland and Germany with a totally useless trip leader. Was prepared to give you another chance with Azerbijan,Georgia and Armenia. In 52 years of frequent travel for the first time I experienced all your passengers refusing to get onto a sub standard clapped out van with a dangerous driver.
I and several others reported this to you from Georgia and you substituted the transport.I question now after this disaster of your massive unnecessary delays and hiding from responding to 6 of my emails whether I would EVER want to even consider travelling again with Intrepid/Peregrine
Graeme Herps

Kim Browning May 8, 2020 - 8:50 pm

I had my first four tours cancelled. I will definitely tell my travel agent that I want a credit on all four. I am not sure where I want to go now.

Steph May 8, 2020 - 6:57 pm

Good for you. I respect your honesty at this difficult time.

Ashley May 8, 2020 - 6:55 pm

I appreciate the letter, however this is clearly retrospective of the outcry of thousands of people that cannot afford to just take a voucher.

Clearly you’ve had to bite the bullet on this one and offer customers full refunds. Not all of us will be in the position to re-book trips. I feel that there’s ways around discussing employees and your charity. Maybe you could have done this before changing your policy.

I would much rather not use intrepid in the future for this. Especially if I’m denied a refund.

JK Bradley May 8, 2020 - 5:12 am

To James Thornton, CEO, Intrepid Travel,

I am taking this time to explain why a full refund is due and why it should negate the credit voucher, with an expiry date I might add that I was forced to take, to cancel out any terms and conditions of both Sept 23 and 2 Oct tour dates.  

As I am not Intrepid’s bank, but a customer, I have been refused my right to a refund which not only is unforgivable, it also damages Intrepid Travels reputation as a tour operator and the travel industry.  This was my first time booking with you, this will be my last time.  It begs to wonder how media will respond and react to so much negative press for time already passed and more to come; you may come across my letter on public platforms.  We all wonder why corporations who have generated unfathomable profits (your 2019 annual report claims 16.1 million dollar growth and 23% reduction in overheads) feel entitled to rob the poor.  James Thornton’s ‘open letter’ contradicted himself/Intrepid Travel: heartfelt words and words of greed, quite patronizing really. 
Intrepid Travel says they have incurred excessive costs to process refunds, that they are in financial distress (look at your annual report) which is simply irrelevant to me as I am a customer also in financial distress and you are holding my money hostage.  Covid-19 did not just affect Intrepid Travel, it affected me too.  I understand that Intrepid Travel is having difficulties, we all are, but that does not entitle you to keep my money.  Intrepid Travel should be more considerate and compassionate during this time of a pandemic.

When you became aware of the seriousness of this pandemic you reneged on your Intrepid Promise and offerings.  Your third and final offering of a 75% refund minus 25% for ‘unrecoverable costs’ allows Intrepid Travel to retain monies already paid placing customers at their mercy, this is also known as extortion.  Customers have repeatedly asked for an explanation of said ‘unrecoverable costs’ and have only been told, upon pressing the matter, that it is an amount to pay ‘ground vendors’.  This was not explained in a clear and concise manner publicly or in your policy.  How Intrepid Travel justifies these charges is simply mind-boggling, Intrepid Travel has no supporting evidence that money has been paid to ground vendors that is being shared.  

Intrepid Travel’s booking conditions upon registration for a tour are vague and fail at transparency.  Intrepid Travel has failed to mention that you reserve the right to only offer credits and as a customer you will have to fight tooth and nail to receive a full refund let alone any refund at all.  Intrepid Travel has also taken the time to shut down their website in order to alter booking conditions to favour themselves placing the customer at a disadvantage.  Thus, adhering to any booking conditions renders them meaningless as Intrepid Travel can and will change them accordingly at their will to manipulate all customers.  Forcing me to adhere to a flimsy fluctuating, altered & amended policy to accept your unlawful credit voucher (Consumer protection laws don’t speak to vouchers or credits being an appropriate method of refund nor are they allowed to have expiry dates for a dollar amount (section 4.1 Business Practices and Consumer Protect Act regulation http://www.bclaws.ca) is unacceptable.  Yes, I now have a file with Consumer Protection BC.

I must ask, do you remember the Intrepid Travel Promise?  It stated if you cancel your tour a customer has the option to: 
1: transfer amounts already paid to another departure date.
2: to ask that Intrepid Travel hold monies paid up to 18 months.
3: to receive a full refund.

My tour date was cancelled. 

As a customer and a health care professional, which I have neglected to mention because I believe it shouldn’t matter what hat any human being wears, I know first hand that the impact of Covid-19 is far worse for people with co-morbidities; for example, my clients with comprised lymphatic and immune systems, than Intrepid Travel losing money.  I have been prohibited from treating my clients, this impacts their quality of life.  These are REAL people, REAL health-related problems that I work with.  Due to unforeseen circumstances myself I have been unexpectedly unemployed.  Additionally, this has eliminated my income and like many other people this makes it extremely hard, as I’ve said, to pay the rent, bills and food.    
Because Intrepid Travel has cancelled my dated tour and for several reasons aforementioned, in addition to not being approved for another departure, it is an unacceptable offer and I am resuming the fight for my right to a full refund ($2800) to be processed immediately.  

J.K. Bradley

MJ May 7, 2020 - 6:14 pm

This just adds to my respect for, and trust in, Intrepid. My 2018 trips to the Middle East were incredible; the trip itself, and the support you provided, were above and beyond anything I’d experienced before, and I look forward to seeing you on the other side of all this, for the next instalment. In the meantime, all the best for you and your families. Take care, and best wishes.

Jemma Kim May 7, 2020 - 6:35 am

To James Thornton, Intrepid Travel,

A well written letter that holds no weight. It contradicts what is actually happening what customers are going through as they try to get a refund. It also comes across as very patronizing and that is an insult. I am taking this time to explain why I should receive a full refund and why it should negate the credit voucher with an expiry date I might add that I was forced to take so Intrepid Travel could keep my monies already paid.  

As I am not Intrepid’s bank, but a customer, I have been refused an outright denial of a refund which not only is unforgivable, it also damages Intrepid Travels reputation as a tour operator and the travel industry. Receiving my money back, should also cancel out any terms and conditions with the tour I registered for using the forced credit voucher.

Credits are not financially protected in the same way as cash in case of a potential bankruptcy.  Nor does a credit refund redeem to cash which is totally unfair to customers and unlawful.  A travel credit voucher does not suit my personal circumstances at this difficult time.  I have been utterly exhausted and at my wits end with concern of my finances, stressing out over how I can pay rent, food and bills.  No destination is going to be safe to travel to within the next 24 months as a new vaccine is 1-2 years away and it will take time to mass distribute it.  Many, if not all tour operators, airlines and hotels are laying off staff which inevitably reduces hotel availability and routes.  This limits any tour offerings and thus the onus will fall onto the customer to pay more out of pocket.       

Intrepid Travel says they have incurred excessive costs to process refunds, that they are in financial distress which is simply irrelevant to me as I am a customer also in financial distress and they are holding my money hostage.  Covid-19 did not just affect Intrepid Travel, it affected me too!  I understand that Intrepid Travel is having difficulties and I will wait for my $2800 monies already paid as Intrepid should not think they are entitled to keep my money.  Offering a 75% refund minus 25% for ‘unrecoverable costs’ allows Intrepid Travel to process a refund whichever sum they want to placing customers at their mercy, this is also known as extortion.  Customers have repeatedly asked for an explanation of said ‘unrecoverable costs’ and have only been told, upon pressing the matter, that it is an amount to pay ‘ground vendors’.  This was not explained in a clear and concise manner.  How Intrepid Travel justifies these charges is simply mind-boggling, Intrepid Travel has no supporting evidence that money has been paid to ground vendors that is being shared.  

Intrepid Travel should be more considerate during this time of a pandemic, why am I being penalized to obtain my money?  Intrepid Travel’s booking conditions upon registration for a tour are vague and fail at transparency.  Intrepid Travel had also taken the time to shut down their website in order to alter booking conditions to favour themselves placing the customer at a disadvantage.  Thus, adhering to any booking conditions renders them meaningless, Intrepid Travel can and will change them accordingly at their will to manipulate all customers.

There was an Intrepid Travel Promise that stated if they cancel your tour a customer has the option to: 
1: transfer amounts already paid to another departure date.
2: to ask that Intrepid Travel hold monies paid up to 18 months.
3: to receive a full refund.

Intrepid Travel has failed to mention that as a customer you will have to fight tooth and nail to receive that full refund, if any at all.  They also failed to mention that they will in fact reserve the right to only offer credits that fluctuate with their needs.

As a customer who has already paid $2800 for a tour with a specific date which has been cancelled through Intrepid Travel’s decision, I am resuming my right to a full refund to be processed immediately.  

Jemma Kim

Barbara Ruttelle May 5, 2020 - 8:25 pm

Love your trips been on a few- I am definitely taking the credit – expect to be seeing me when you are up and running again.
I wish you all well

Ramin May 5, 2020 - 4:43 pm

Dear James. I am a tour guide from Azerbaijan and most of my tours were with your groups from all over the world. Your company is a great example for other tour companies. I was really enjoying working with your tourists. Now I really miss those days. The Caucasus is very boring without your tourist groups. I wish and pray that you will come back again very soon.
Ramin Bagirov.

Tom and Kim May 4, 2020 - 7:52 pm

We love your tours and we look forward to booking another one as soon as we can. Stay strong.

Jennifer May 4, 2020 - 8:01 am

Thank you. I will take the credit. I have paid my deposit for the Galapagos. I am taking my son. Booked for 27 March, 2021. We shall have to wait and see if it proceeds. Stay strong safe and well. I appreciate your honesty and ethics. We are all in this together. See you on the other side. Thank you for your clear communication.

Anonymous May 20, 2020 - 9:53 am

Hi Jennifer
Funnily enough I was doing exactly the same thing:))

Caitlin May 2, 2020 - 5:31 pm

Very impressed with your honest message. I hope other companies follow suit. I haven’t traveled with you, but would definitely consider Intrepid for future travel. All the best to you and Intrepid.

Wendy Fraser May 2, 2020 - 3:47 pm

We are so impressed with Intrepid. We have a credit on a trip to Cuba we were so looking forward to in July. This now gives us opportunity out for 2 years and for anywhere.
We are looking forward to future travel with this company.

Kristen May 2, 2020 - 9:42 am

I’m gladly taking my 110% and putting it towards a longer trip when the world opens back up again! I figure if I had to postpone my trip, I’m going to really go for it and see more countries than I had originally intended! Silver lining, at least on my end. Can’t wait to see you again, Intrepid!

Tim Pilgrim May 2, 2020 - 5:27 am

James, thanks for the article. I’m one of those customers who has claimed my refund (or that’s what’s been promised to me, within 2 weeks) and I’d like to explain why, please.

I want to love Intrepid. It was my first trip booked with you, and I specifically used you over other companies because my mum was such a massive fan. After my dad passed away a little over a decade ago, travelling with Intrepid helped her get back on her feet and re-engage with life – I think her times travelling with you were some of her happiest. She used you so much she got a free trip.

She sadly passed away in February of cancer, and at her funeral Intrepid got a mention in her eulogy. That’s how deep her connection was to you. I booked with Intrepid without hesitation.

But I felt the way you handled this – making loud promises of 150% credit which you’d renegaded on within 24hrs, trying to retrospectively change T&Cs others had signed up to with the best of intentions, and wording communications in such a way as to make it seem like refunds weren’t an option – completely blew my trust in your company. I had a lot of money invested in my trip, as a lot of your customers do, but of course I couldn’t leave my money in a company I could longer trust.

I wish you and the Intrepid team the best, and hope you come through this relatively intact, but trust is a difficult thing to win and an easy thing to lose, and you really took a hammer to my trust in Intrepid.

I hope that gives you some insight into why me (and judging by social media, many more of your customers), won’t heed your call, and ask for their money back.

Good luck and best wishes


Karen May 2, 2020 - 2:06 am

As someone who lost their travel job because of the virus, and borders being closed (not with Intrepid however) I actually applaud their response. I for one, have always looked to Intrepid as leaders in the travelling sphere and will continue to do so. This is a brutally honest insight into the repercussions of Covid 19 and the industries its desimating.

Paul May 1, 2020 - 6:50 pm

Well said James, and best wishes to you and your team.

Danielle May 1, 2020 - 4:21 pm

I agree I hope the credit voucher for those include viable dates – reflective of when borders do open! Thank f borders do not reopen for some time I would hope Inteepid would reflect this in the expiry dates for the credit voucher. Unfortunately not everyone who had booked holidays prior to COVID have the flexibility to reuse the credit vouchers within the time given! I have completed many amazing trips with Intrepid and can not fault them at all! I would highly recommend them and will continue to when possible!

Peter May 1, 2020 - 4:19 pm

An excellent, heartfelt and well written letter. I have been using Intrepid since 2007 and had my 18th, 19th and 20th trips booked for this coming August and September in Australia.

I am waiting for 2021 dates so I can transfer the bookings.

On all the previous trips, I have had wonderful adventures and experienced Intrepid’s ethical approach to their business. Stay strong. We will come out of this.

Julie Brenchley May 1, 2020 - 1:20 pm

Well you can’t get much fairer than that! Way to go Intrepid you will always have our business as long as we are able to travel & see this world through your tours & eyes, good luck & may the world be able to resume travel in that not too far distant future.

May Battista May 1, 2020 - 7:24 am

I have known Intrepid for many years when it was at the start of Bourke street in Melbourne if ian correct . I was Sales ex at Alitalia then . And was good old times . Keep going and hope you will keep doing you always have .

Gail Root May 1, 2020 - 5:09 am

This says it all. I have taken 10 trips with Intrepid over the past 15 years, and while I don’t have a current trip on the books, your message is on point. That is exactly the kind of world I want to live in! And my heart breaks in the meantime. Thank you for all you have done in the past, and all you will do in the future!

Peter Bentley May 1, 2020 - 12:25 am

Thank you for your letter and we all hope this virus will leave us soon in the near future. I have been a customer of Intrepid-travel for many years and even I have seen the changes in corporate over the years I always gave support. As a retired film maker I produced many travel shows on my own expense of paying the locals and many hours of editing and music production. Where I became very disappointed was with the contact Intrepid made over the last few years with client feedback. We all have send our trip feedback notes and never received a reply good or bad. I have made suggestions for the best and safety of your travelers but this felt on deaf ears. While filming for another travel company where our feedback was listened to. Please go to YouTube and enter Intrepid travel Peter Bentley , Morocco,India Bangkok .Indonesia and many more . If interested you can share those clips with your clients while being at home. Wish you all the best in the future and thanks for the pleasure you have given us . Producer Peter Bentley

Andy and Beth Gabriel April 30, 2020 - 11:46 pm

We have no trips booked but would certainly take the voucher if we did. In the past 12 months, we visited Peru, Morocco, and Ecuador with Intrepid. Wonderful experiences. Hang in there and we will be back when you are back.

Raelene Thompson April 30, 2020 - 11:46 pm

As a mother of one of your now ex employees, Matthew Thompson, I know first hand how devastating this has been for him both personally and financially. He has always been a believer in the values of Intrepid and hope’s that after the pandemic the Australian public will once again be able to enjoy the holidays they were previously looking forward to..and staff will be supported in their efforts to make this happen.

Joshua April 30, 2020 - 10:40 pm

This is incredible. I’ve never used Intrepid, but will certainly be considering it for future travel.

Sophie Marsland April 30, 2020 - 9:24 pm

Yep. I reckon that’s fair. I loved the intrepid trip I took in Egypt 18 years ago, the India trip in March (seems like a lot longer than six weeks ago). I am disappointed that our family safari with intrepid in September in South Africa will be cancelled. I would be happy to accept the credit but I hope they give more than 12 months to take it as I can’t see Australia opening borders and allowing us to travel even by September2021. I think it is best that people don’t ask for refunds or the company will go broke, but yeah, I hope they give a generous amount of time to use the credit.

Inez Jessurun April 30, 2020 - 8:12 pm

Just keep the company going! Still want to do a couple of trip.

Diane April 30, 2020 - 7:51 pm

Thank you for your honesty and for speaking from the heart. The world could use more leaders like you. I’ve been lucky to take two trips with Intrepid and many Urban Adventures. All have been without a doubt the best experiences and I cannot wait for my next ones. Thank you for living your mission, standing by your values, and for admitting your mistakes. We will all make it through this together ❤ . #beintrepid

Elaine April 30, 2020 - 7:06 pm

Dear James,
Your letter tells people what exactly is happening in the tourism industry, worldwide. Making decisions during this time is not easy when traveling, both leisure & business, is basically completely stopped. Keep up and we will overcome this difficult time.

Kim Alexander April 30, 2020 - 6:47 pm

That’s sounds fair

Frank Jordan April 30, 2020 - 6:15 pm

Thank you. We can understand where you r coming from and the implications. We will take the credit and hope to see the world, again, with you when it all settles. Stay safe.

Paul Sterrenburg April 30, 2020 - 5:44 pm

Hi James

As a previous Intrepid customer & have enjoyed the trips I had done it was a no brainer to book with Intrepid again . Then Covid 19 happened & I as everyone else was left wondering what would happen . Had you sent this letter prior to ( your team) engaging I would have been more than happy to take a credit , However the off handed & arrogant way your team treated me as a customer by 1) Retroactively changing the T&Cs & TELLING me I was getting a credit not a refund when you must know as a CREDIBLE business ( Leigh Barnes words not mine) should know that was ILLEGAL under consumer law . 2) Telling me I must submit a request if I want reconsideration under Emotional or Financial hardship to get MY money back . Who do you think you are Intrepid . You claim to be an ethical business but when the wheels fall off you pull up the drawbridge & close ranks & treat the people who make you money like idiots , Well hasn’t that come back to bite you on the rear end. Now Intrepid is telling us we only get 75% of OUR money here is a news flash ” You didn’t provide me with the service I paid for” not you fault & i get that but not MY fault either . We as well as your team have suffered loss of incomes & have Bill’s to pay & commitments to meet so I think it is both morally & ethically wrong to not refund ALL of our money paid in good faith .
Live up to the standards you & yours so boldly tout when times are good & maybe just maybe I & all the others the have been treated so badly by Intrepid will travel in the new look travel world

Paul Sterrenburg

Marg Geraghty April 30, 2020 - 5:40 pm

Best wishes to Intrepid in weathering the tsunami that is now upon us. I travelled with you in Thailand about a decade ago and I was just delighted with my journey for all the reasons you’ve outlined in your open letter, James. It was an uplifting experience.

Tina Walker April 30, 2020 - 5:27 pm

I shall look forward to my next trip with you when the world reopens.

Lynda April 30, 2020 - 5:12 pm

I was due to travel to Mexico and cuba on 4/3.
I have very little work and still waiting on my refund

Lorna Hume April 30, 2020 - 4:29 pm

A very well written and open response. I don’t have a trip booked this year but intend to travel with you next year. You are by far the best company I have travelled with and I wish you and all your staff very best wishes and stay safe.

Karen April 30, 2020 - 4:58 am

I have been denied refunds since March 16, and my emails and questions are not being returned by Kate. I don’t believe the want my future bookings at all after this treatment, as they do not care about customers. I seen first hand travellers abandoned by guides with covid and left to get their own way home. I have been on 13 trips with Intrepid, and I don’t see them representing any of their values stated here. Many others I have been in touch with agree. We all want out refunds we are entitled to.

Nichole Brown April 30, 2020 - 4:46 am

Hello James. Thank you for this, I like many of your customers have been trying to get my refund for 7 weeks. We were denied, then told we get a refund minus costs as the new form letter states. I have lost full trust in Intrepid and never plan to travel with your company again. (Yes I was a long term customer and sent many of my friends on your trips as I highly recommended you.) Not only has your team blocked me from your Twitter and Facebook page, they have also informed me they don’t understand “costs”.
Can you please explain to me the following:
Unrecoverable costs is not define in your booking conditions. Would you please provide a definition?
– How did you come to figure of refunding passengers 75% and taking 25%?
– Is 25% the standard figure you quote for all trips? If so, why not state this in the conditions then be vague?
– Why do you quote unrecoverable costs as a percentage as this should surely be a monetary figure?
– Intrepid Travel has quoted others that unrecoverable costs may include flight bookings, I don’t have a flight booking so my tour should cost less, no?

Anthony Post April 30, 2020 - 4:33 am

If it’s not about money James, then why when we do request a refund you keep 25% for unrecoverable costs? Why won’t your staff give us any detail of this fee, especially as it is exorbitant? Do you realise it is illegal to profit from fees, James? Just as it was illegal to deny us our refund option for so long? If you accepted full responsibility when the ACCC came knocking then why haven’t you resigned?


Leave a Comment