Skift Take

When it comes to environmental impact, major cruise lines have a hard time sleeping at night. The smaller ones only occasionally wake up in a cold sweat.

Big cruise lines frequently justify, or even deny, the environmental impact of floating hotels that hold five thousand people, spew chemicals into the ocean, and roll right into a whale’s living room.

Lindblad Expeditions may specialize in small vessels and tours that value nature over bottomless mimosas, but like any cruise company, it struggles with the footprint it leaves behind.

That footprint comes partly from operating ships that pollute, but also from depositing bunches of tourists into pristine, undeveloped areas, sometimes leading to what we call overtourism.

“Sometimes I do get a bit distressed when I go to places that maybe I was 20, 30, 40 years ago that have been perhaps overdeveloped, overused, and that does honestly disturb me,” said Lindblad Expeditions CEO Sven-Olof Lindblad on stage at Skift Global Forum in New York in September.

Among the slow-burning, long-term effects of ship pollution and overtourism, Lindblad has also been vocal about the broader issue of climate change.

“I lamented the idea that we as the United States were leaving an important forum and an important conversation with the idea of exiting the Paris accord,” said Lindblad. “We needed to rebalance our relationship with natural systems.”

You can watch the entire interview above, or consider reading more coverage of Skift Global Forum.

About his advocacy for climate change, Lindblad said, “Several people said ‘just shut up and organize travel.’ … We absolutely cannot shut up because we’re dealing with a global crisis.”

Yet, Lindblad still believes in the educational value of travel, especially when it comes to his own tours, for which he has a longstanding partnership with National Geographic. Beyond education, he also noted that wilderness and remote locations are an age-old tonic for life’s anxieties, or even permanxiety, as Skift refers to the traveler’s contemporary state of constant worry.

“Exposing people to these places is more valuable than the downside of doing that,” said Lindblad. “So I can go to sleep with a good conscience as a consequence of that. But it’s not all good.”

Lindblad said his company continues to work on achieving greater fuel efficiency and minimizing environmental impact.

At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation for panels such as this, as well as solo TED-like talks on the future of travel.

Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2018 events.


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Tags: cruises, lindblad expeditions, sgf2017, skift global forum, video

Photo credit: Lindblad Expeditions CEO Sven-Olof Lindblad spoke on stage about climate change at Skift Global Forum in New York in September. Skift

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