Intrepid Travel splits from TUI

Intrepid's co-founders Geoff Manchester and Darrell Wade, with managing director James Thornton
Intrepid’s co-founders Geoff Manchester and Darrell Wade, with managing director James Thornton

The founders of Intrepid Travel have confirmed that they are ending their strategic partnership with Europe’s TUI Group.

The two companies join forces four years ago to form the PEAK Adventure Travel Group, but have now “mutually agreed” to go their separate ways. The main factor in the decision is believed to be TUI’s decision to focus on the “higher-end” of the adventure travel market.

Under the new arrangement, Intrepid’s co-founders Darrell Wade and Geoff Manchester will take back full ownership of the adventure travel brand they founded in 1989, as well as a portfolio of brands including Intrepid Travel, Adventure Tours Australia, Geckos Adventures, Peregrine Adventures, The Family Adventure Company and Urban Adventures, plus a range of destination management companies.

Wade will continue as CEO alongside James Thornton, the group’s first managing director.

“Over the last four years we’ve seen huge growth in the adventure travel sector globally. Whilst the formation of PEAK served all brands well at the time, we now recognise that we have different priorities and business philosophies,” said Wade.

“As a privately-owned travel company we will come out of this venture in a really exciting position. We’ve been observing emerging trends across the adventure travel sector globally, and now we can work quickly with our destination management companies and industry partners to grow the market for authentic local experiences that truly benefit both travellers and the places they visit.”

Intrepid take over 250,000 travellers in small groups to more than 100 countries on all seven continents
Intrepid takes more than 250,000 travellers in small groups to more than 100 countries on all seven continents

For TUI, a newly-created Adventure Specialist Division will replace PEAK, bringing together a collection of higher-end “experiential travel” brands, including Exodus, Headwater, TrekAmerica, Grand American Adventures and Sawadee (which previously operated under the PEAK umbrella), plus Quark Expeditions, Zegrahm Expeditions, International Expeditions, UK-based World Challenge and AmeriCan Adventures, a US-based DMC.

The new division will be led by managing director Hans Lagerweij.

“It has become apparent that two increasingly distinct styles have emerged and that the appetite for more unique, higher-end and active experiences will only increase over the coming years,” explained Lagerweij. “In order to best serve these markets and remain leaders within our fields we believe it is the right time to divide PEAK’s brands to concentrate on the adventure traveller’s changing needs.”

Wade said Intrepid would “continue to work closely with TUI to ensure that it is business as usual for our industry partners”.

Headquartered in Melbourne, the Intrepid Group handles more than 250,000 travellers per year in small groups, with itineraries in more than 100 countries on all seven continents.

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