Intrepid Travel has launched a campaign that aims to improve vaccine access and education, mandate vaccines for travellers and tour leaders while also donating money (via The Intrepid Foundation) to support global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The company, in a release on Aug. 5, pointed out that only 0.3 per cent of vaccine doses worldwide have been administered in low-income countries – “a number that must be corrected to save lives, restart economies, and meaningfully rebuild the tourism industry.”
Intrepid’s global vaccine equity campaign has begun mobilizing their 23 operational offices across five continents to offer on-the-ground support ranging from logistical and transportation resources to training and education.
In Cuzco, Peru, for example, Intrepid started offering free transportation to a vaccination hub for trekking porters and their families, as well as accommodation.
Intrepid’s Deputy Operations Manager, Maritza Chacacanta, also began advocating for a new site to be opened closer to the porters’ communities.
At the start of July 2021, Intrepid had 0% of porters vaccinated. When the new site opened in Calca, that number jumped to 80% by August 1, 2021.
Efforts have also begun in Sri Lanka, where Intrepid’s Regional General Manager of Asia, Anu Karunatilaka, who is based in Colombo, hosted an information and Q&A session with Professor Neelika Malavige, a member of the World Health Organization’s technical advisory committee and the International Society of Infectious Diseases, to provide tour guides with access to quality information and education about COVID-19 vaccines.
Globally, Intrepid has offered paid vaccination leave to make it easier for all staff to receive vaccinations as soon as they are eligible.
The Intrepid Foundation has committed to raise AUD $100,000 for UNICEF Australia, including an upfront kickstart donation of AUD $50,000 to their Give the World a Shot fundraising appeal.
UNICEF is leading the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation ever on behalf of the Global COVAX Facility, which will see two billion vaccine doses delivered in 190 countries to those who need them most by the end of 2022.
One hundred percent of donations will go towards universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, supporting COVAX in their mission to vaccinate 30 percent of the global population by the end of 2021.
Vaccines = mandatory
Intrepid has introduced a mandatory vaccination policy for all travellers and tour leaders from September 1, 2021.
(Until now, Intrepid required either proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours).
Even with those requirements, 94% of travellers on Intrepid trips since May 2021 have been fully vaccinated, which will now be a requirement.
“We are introducing a global vaccine mandate to not only ensure the safety of our travellers but the safety of our tour leaders, their families and the communities that we visit,” said James Thornton, CEO of Intrepid Travel, in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the reality is that access to vaccines is not equal globally, and we cannot responsibly require leaders to be vaccinated if we don’t also help to advocate and improve their access to them.”