50 Degrees North was founded in 2010, at the tail end of the global financial crisis. Since then the company has grown from a small family company to a global business with over 50 employees and offices on 3 continents. Getting where we are today has been a long road, and a great achievement. We are well on our way to establish our business as one of the leading Nordic destination specialists globally offering boutique
and high end travel experiences above the 50th parallel north. As an established business, we have also become more serious about our impact on the planet and have been rolling out a scheme of giving back.
The global pandemic came as a shock to the industry. It not only halted operations, but also our ability to give back. However, two years in hibernation has given us time to re-think our strategy and further develop as a business. And I am very pleased to say that we have emerged on the other side stronger, and a blossoming Nordic destination specialist and tour operator. The 2022 calendar year has seen us return to profitability, and we have built our business back up with now just over 50 employees in 2023 across our 4 offices in Minneapolis, Vancouver, Melbourne and Lillehammer.
During the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, 50 Degrees North signed the Glasgow Declaration, solidifying our commitment to the planet and our impact on it. In May 2022, we received the Travellife Partner Award, in recognition of our efforts towards sustainable travel and Corporate Social Responsibility. In 2023, we continue on this path, as we are submitting our application to become a certified B-Corporation, we are giving away 10% of our 2022 after tax profit (approx. NOK600,000) to a selection of charitable organisations, and we have introduced volunteering schemes for our employees.
Although we are experiencing exponential growth, 50 Degrees North is still a proud family run company with a very Nordic culture where passion, authenticity and trust form our pillars of success. We are excited about the future of tourism, and are keen to co-operate with the industry to fight for real action for the future of our planet.
--* Tietse Stelma, CEO and Co-founder of 50 Degrees North *
Our Key Values and Sustainability Policy
Spreading wealth by promoting less visited destinations and local places, as well as promoting travel in low season (i.e. as an antidote to overtourism)
Supporting local people and their businesses to ensure socio-economic benefit and sustainability for local communities (i.e. rather than multinational corporations)
Preferring partnerships with operators who adhere to strict environmental, quality and safety standards set by recognised national certification schemes (where available). For example, choosing Nordic Choice hotels which are certified in accordance with the ISO 14001 environmental standards.
Promoting low emission transport options, e.g. the use of trains and other public transport, electric vehicles, electric snow mobiles and ships with a strong emission reduction strategy
Respecting the limitations of the destinations by minimising our impact on local nature, wildlife and culture
Actively contributing to the preservation of local nature, wildlife, cultures and landscapes
See our Sustainability Policy here.
On the 25 May 2022, we received the Travellife Partner Award, recognition for the long-term efforts and frontrunner position of 50 Degrees North Nordic regarding sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. 50 Degrees North Nordic complies with more than 100 criteria, related to an operators’ office management, product range, international business partners and customer information. The Travelife standard is covering the ISO 26000 Corporate Social Responsibility themes, including environment, biodiversity, human rights and labour relations; and is formally Recognised as in full compliance with the UN supported Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.
Our Climate Action Plan
During the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, 50 Degrees North Nordic, along with 300 other tourism companies, became one of the founding signatories of the Glasgow Declaration. Here is our plan forward. Here is our plan forward.
Our Impact Report
Sustainable tourism and responsible travel are at the forefront of the 50 Degrees North philosophy. We aim to create and maintain sustainable business practices that not only provide economic benefits for the local populations in our destinations, but also respect and protect nature, cultural heritage, and local values, with the aim of preserving all of these for future generations.
As part of our commitment to our climate action plan, we have published our 2022 impact report. Read our IMPACT REPORT 2022 here.
Our Carbon Labels
We are one step further towards our goal with the release of carbon labels on our tours. On 35 of our most popular and iconic experiences you will now find it’s carbon footprint, which is an overview of how much carbon that particular trip generates from what is included, such as the accommodation, transport, meals, activities and even the tour guide. By 2024 we plan to publish the footprint of every one of our tours.
By measuring and sharing details of each tours carbon footprint it not only allows us to see where reductions can be made, but it helps our customers to understand the impact of that tour.
Find out more here about our Carbon Labels.
Our Green Offices
We aim to source local products and services as part of our daily office procedures. We use local printers and buy locally. We have a ban on single use coffee cups in our offices with a 50DN Keep Cup fund.
50 Degrees North promotes partnerships with local businesses in the destinations we travel rather using international chain hotels or companies. This also means that the people you meet on the ground are locals who know their area better than anyone and can take you deep under the skin of their home country or region. A good example of this is our Beautiful Norway tour, which is motivated by our desire to distribute wealth and employment opportunities more evenly by introducing travellers to areas, hotels, and service providers outside of the traditional and extremely busy routes. And the good news is that the experience is all the more wonderful and authentic for it.
Tips for Travellers
Visiting the Arctic - Svalbard, Greenland & Iceland
The Arctic Environment is home to many unique and vulnerable species and habitats. Help us protect the Arctic from the impact of alien species by, where possible, brushing, hoovering and cleaning clothes and any equipment prior to departure, paying particular attention to outerwear and footwear. This is in accordance with the request of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.
- 65% OF ALL TRAVELERS SAY THEY USE MORE BOTTLED WATER ON VACATION THAN THEY DO AT HOME
- 70% OF ALL TRAVELERS SAY THEY DON’T TRUST TAP WATER IN THEIR DESTINATION
- 80% OF ALL PLASTIC BOTTLES END UP IN LANDFILLS OR IN THE OCEAN
It is time for a change, as in the Nordics, buying bottled water is completely unecessary. Tap water across the region is clean and potable. Bring a waterbottle on your trip, and you will always have freshh and clean water available FOR FREE. That will help keep our environment pristine.
#kranavatn (Iceland) #kranvann (Norway) #kranvatten (Sweden) #postevand (Denmark) #vesijohtovettä (Finland)
Recommendations regarding overseas travel & long flights
As Mark Twain famously wrote, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." We agree that meaningful, authentic travel is a fundamentally eye-opening experience that advances understanding and tolerance of other cultures.
However, when flying long distances to what will hopefully be a once-in-lifetime kind of extraordinary holiday (our specialty), we recommend researching and considering which airlines are the most fuel efficient prior to booking your flights.
We also recommend compensating for travel related carbon emissions by making environmental donations (“carbon offsets”) to reputable, usually not-for-profit organisations. Below are some suggestions:
Australia & NZ: Greenfleet
US: CarbonFund or NativeEnergy (Native American)
Europe: For example MyClimate (Switzerland) or Atmosfair (Germany)
Furthermore, we also recommend public transport or independent drives over flying while in the destination. You get a much deeper understanding of the landscape of a country through the window of a train / ferry / car than you do by flying over it.