Intrepid Travel


When international borders closed, Export Finance Australia was able to provide financial support to ensure Intrepid Travel can prepare for rapid growth once global travel resumes.

Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, and founded in 1989, Intrepid Travel has grown from carrying 47 customers in its first year to offering trips to more than 100 countries on all seven continents. In 2019, the business – the largest adventure travel company globally – carried 460,000 customers on unique trips across Australia and around the world.

Intrepid Travel’s approach to travel is distinct in that it puts sustainability at the forefront, and that’s what the business has done for more than 30 years.

“We're trying to benefit all the stakeholders that interact with Intrepid, including our people, our customers, our partners, the communities and the environment,” explained James Thornton, Intrepid Travel CEO. “It’s a new and emerging view of business; that business can actually be a force for good.”

Navigating the challenges of an industry on hold

Historically, Intrepid Travel had always been self-funded, running a profitable business from day one through reinvesting funds into the organisation and being financially conservative.

“That stood us in good stead going into COVID-19, but the pandemic has impacted all travel businesses,” James said. “It doesn't matter how strong the balance sheet is, the reality is that as a result of the pandemic, our revenues have been hugely depleted.”

The business started talking to the Government about what options might be available for successful Australian-owned travel companies that have been impacted by the pandemic. This is when Intrepid Travel connected with Export Finance Australia.

“We're aiming to become the world's first purpose-led $1 billion-dollar adventure travel company,” James said.

Export Finance Australia's support will be critical in helping us position the business for rapid growth once international borders reopen.

James Thornton, CEO, Intrepid Travel

Anticipating a travel boom

Looking ahead, James expects to see huge demand for travel and a rapid bounce back in tourism once international borders reopen.

When the pandemic brought the industry to a halt, more than two thirds of Intrepid Travel’s customers chose to take a credit note enabling them to travel in the future. The business has also expanded its offering in Australia to cater to domestic tourists.

“We've got more than $40 million of credit notes, or customers who are ready to either book their trips or who have rebooked their trips for travel in 2022 and beyond,” James highlighted.

“Every person we talked to is desperate to get out and have travel experiences when it's safe and secure to do so.”

“As a global leader, and with the support of Export Finance Australia, Intrepid Travel is well positioned to meet those future demands.”