Untamed Escapes

Oct 18, 2023 | Case Study

Untamed Escapes
Ecotourism operator
Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory

Untamed Escapes have greatly transformed since owner Craig ‘Hassie’ Haslam bought what was known as ‘Nullarbor Traveller’ in 2004. Branching out to include the brand ‘Xplore Eyre’ to capture shifting outback adventurer markets, Hassie connected travellers with diverse environments and experiences across South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

From deepening connections to the environment to engaging in conservation, responsible tourism has always been the crux of Hassie’s mission. But through the team’s incredible efforts, they realised they weren’t platforming their eco credentials well enough.

Soon, they were struck by a pandemic and plenty of time to reflect. They looked to expand, branching into wellness retreats as they continued showing travellers their part of the world, all while ensuring their eco credentials received the right recognition.

The new and improved Untamed Escapes was launched in 2021, and a wave of transformative experiences in nature continued to capture the hearts of travellers wanting to connect with regions across Australia.

Notably, Untamed Escapes’ launch also marked the start of a new conservation journey. Regenerative travel was now front and centre as they championed what they had always done; putting place, community and nature first on their tours.

Hassie’s regenerative roots began in 1999 before there was even a word for it. Back then, they owned a property on the Eyre Peninsula where his wife, Jo, proposed they start planting trees.

“Over the next 20 years, we revegetated over 1,000 acres of bushland and were also the first tour operator in Australia to offset 100% of our carbon footprint internally. While we are no longer carbon neutral, through our Regenerative Action Plan, we will be heading towards being net positive in years to come.”

This year they reached an incredible milestone, celebrating 10 years of ECO Certification with Ecotourism Australia and earning them a new title: Green Travel Leader.

“We received ECO Certification 10 years ago as it aligned with our ethos and the Environmental Programs we were already doing on our then 3000-acre accommodation property on the Eyre Peninsula,” Hassie states. “It gave us a formula to move forwards towards understanding the positive impacts of our programs as well as a formal auditing and reporting process.”

Hassie says ECO Certification has helped them communicate their environmental conservation initiatives to their customers and suppliers by adding credibility, but it’s also been an important part of their redirection to regenerative experiences.

“The other significance is it was an important step in the journey of us now moving beyond sustainability to regenerative tourism,” says Hassie. “This has been challenging as it involves a complete mindset shift to a different way of seeing the world, specifically a nature-based and holistic view.”

In 2022, Untamed Escapes hired a dedicated Regenerative Tourism Specialist, and a Regenerative Tourism Action Plan Manifesto is on its way to being launched later this year. When published, this document will be one of the first of its kind for a tour operator in Australia. A summary of the action plan will be available on their website, designed to inspire other businesses to work toward regeneration action.

“Regenerative tourism answers the question of how we can improve the natural places and communities we visit,” Hassie states. “It includes nature-based and holistic views and Indigenous wisdom, as they have lived with a regenerative mindset since the beginning of time.”

Their regeneration mission goes from strength to strength through key collaborations and education, and building partnerships with many local environmental organisations across the regions they operate in.

On the ground, Untamed Escapes educates their passengers on how to be the best traveller they can be to safeguard the environment. The team discourages single-use plastics and recycles everything they can, purchases locally, and organises and provides transport for community clean up projects.

Better yet, all their adventure tours include a conservation activity. Whether you are cleaning local beaches, tree planting, helping a wildlife rescue organisation, or engaging with Indigenous cultural experiences, guests know they’re in for a transformative, regenerative experience.

“For me, running a business in a responsible way is the right thing to do, just as much as picking up rubbish when you walk along the beach or down the street,” says Hassie. “It’s in my DNA, so it flows through to the way myself and my team run the business. I want Untamed Escapes to help shape and influence travel in Australia. That will be a challenge, but one I am keen to champion.”

Check out Untamed Escapes array of ecotourism experiences on the Green Travel Guide: https://greentravelguide.org/listing/untamed-escapes

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