Contiki's 2025 Sustainability Strategy

Tasha discussed Contiki's 2025 sustainability strategy and their plans to be carbon neutral from 1st January 2022.

Contiki is a tour company under the umbrella of The Travel Corporation, that caters to 18-35-year-olds, bringing together travellers from all corners of the globe to discover new cultures and a little part of themselves along the way. Across 350+ global trips throughout all continents, except for Antarctica, they sort out the stressful stuff like transport and accommodation, leaving travellers with unique experiences.

In this opening session of the Sustainability theme, Tasha Hayes, Operations Director at Contiki Europe, discussed their 2025 sustainability strategy and their plans to be carbon neutral from 1st January 2022.

Contiki is a tour company under the umbrella of The Travel Corporation, that caters to 18-35-year-olds, bringing together travellers from all corners of the globe to discover new cultures and a little part of themselves along the way. Across 350+ global trips throughout all continents, except for Antarctica, they sort out the stressful stuff like transport and accommodation, leaving travellers with unique experiences.

Although all brands under The Travel Corporation have their sustainability strategy set by the parent company, every brand has a role to play in it to make the most amount of impact through what they do.

Contiki's 2025 Sustainability Strategy

The ethos behind Contiki's sustainability strategy is ‘Make Travel Matter’, because, if their reason for being is to help people travel to foreign distant places to discover their nature, culture and people, their objective should be to protect destinations so they can keep welcoming travellers for many years to come.

Tasha then explained that Contiki views sustainability as an evolutionary process, in which during the first years they addressed single issues, such as poverty and animal welfare. Nonetheless, since 2019, they moved to a holistic approach through their 'How We ThreadRight' five-year Sustainability Plan, which consists of 11 sustainability goals.

The three pillars of their Sustainability Strategy are Planet, People and Wildlife. Each of these pillars has different goals, all of which are very closely aligned with the Sustainability Development Goals (UNSDGs), a scheme they considered would be adequate due to being internationally renowned and which could serve as a basis for common understanding, as well as for the fact that it provides guidelines for measurement and KPIs.

Tasha then moved on to explain that The Travel Corporation set 11 goals as the parent corporation, which then Contiki have increased their impact on, by focusing on some of them more specifically, due to their operations allowing for such. She also referred to David Meany's keynote, during the Emerging Trends theme, regarding TTC's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy, as it is included within the 11 goals shared between both companies.

As part of their plan to become a carbon-neutral business from January 2022, they have developed a climate action plan, launched in April 2021, through which they are actively working to reduce emissions and offset those that are deemed unavoidable. Nonetheless, Tasha highlighted that the carbon offsetting initiative is an interim solution, while they transit to a low-carbon economy and can employ carbon removal solutions at large.



"Contiki's Climate Action Plan is a five-step plan to: Measure, Reduce, Remove, Offset and Evolve."

Tasha then moved on to explain what each of these steps involve. Contiki have developed a Trip Carbon Calculator to measure the average carbon footprint of their trips, obtained by measuring 40 trips across all regions, which was reviewed by a third party to ensure its reliability. They are also committed to reducing emissions by setting science-based targets and removing excess carbon from the atmosphere in collaboration with their TreadRight Foundation, through which they also partner with other organisations and invest in new technologies and nature-based solutions. To offset, they purchase the carbon offset credits from all emissions deemed as unavoidable, including transfers, meals, accommodations and business operations. Their fifth and last step is to continue to evolve by learning from others and collaborating with them.

If you were wondering how Contiki is reducing its footprint, Tasha also covered this during her talk! They secure renewable electricity, use fuel-efficient coaches, offer vegetarian and vegan meals on all trips,  and work with partners to increase the use of local food products.

For their carbon offset projects, Contiki has partnered with South Pole, and they invest in the three chosen meaningful projects on behalf of all travellers. In addition, all projects are verified by internationally accepted standards, such as the Gold Standard and the Verified Carbon Standard.

  • Forest Conservation in Australia. Protects 20 hectare of land and vulnerable and endangered species.
  • Renewable Energy in the United States. 36.000 acre wind farm in South Dakota with 108 turbines, which is co-owned by the local community members and is able to power 129.000 homes.
  • Biogas Energy in Thailand. Capture of methane from the environment and transformation into clean energy.

Tasha acknowledged the importance of taking climate action during her keynote, mentioning the COP26. She said that Contiki joined Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency, as well as signed the Glasgow Declarationand participated with ABTA and the WTTC on roadmaps to net zero, by which Contiki's compromise with the protection and conservation of our planet became clear.

Contiki's Make Travel Matter Experiences

Goal 7 of Contiki's Sustainability Strategy is to include at least one Make Travel Matter Experience in 50% of TTC itineraries by 2025. These are conscious travel experiences that have been chosen for their genuine impact on the environment, community, people and have been identified as such by a framework for the goals that they have set up. For this, they used an assessment tool endorsed by industry experts and assessed against a robust set of criteria.

To wrap up her session, Tasha provided some examples of the type of experiences that confirm the Make Travel Matter Experiences and the criteria that must be complied with to be part of this scheme. Unseen Tours in London are guided experiences by the homeless and ex-homeless which allow travellers to look at the city from a different perspective while supporting these marginalised groups. The Refugee Boat Tours in Amsterdam, for example, support Global Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities. For organisations to join the scheme, at least one of the following criteria must be met:


  • The organisation actively recruits and employs people from underrepresented populations.
  • The organisation provides services to support or empower underrepresented people that they would not normally have access to.

Key Takeaways

1. Developing a sustainability strategy focused on own goals but based on an existing scheme, like the UN's SDGs, can help your organisation greatly.

2. It is important to partner up with organisations that can help us achieve our goals and that comply with minimum standards.

3. All parts of the business and its operations need to be contemplated in order to achieve real results.

Published on:
December 2021
About the contributor

Tasha Hayes

Tasha Hayes is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Contiki Europe’s operations, ensuring experience delivery of the highest standard and providing memorable holidays for Contiki travellers.