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How Rascal Voyages Is Turning Conservation Into A Luxury Travel Experience


Please enjoy this excerpt from an interview with Steve Ebsworth, founder of Rascal Republic which helps to promote its ocean conservation initiatives through a number of ventures, including during their charters onboard luxury yacht Rascal. Thank you to our team member, Alexa Steele for the interview!

There are two ways you can go about capitalizing on the public’s growing concern over the global climate crisis. You can exploit it with “see it before it’s gone” tour packages that contribute to the degradation of delicate ecosystems.

Or, you can be a part of the solution.

Steve Ebsworth, founder of Rascal Republic, has firmly planted himself in the second column.

“If you’re not doing conservation and sustainability in this day and age,” says Ebsworth, “then you’re going to fall behind. I don’t think people should look at it as marketing anymore. It’s just the way to operate. And if you’re not operating in that way then you’re out of date.”

Ebsworth’s philosophy, Create In Order To Conserve, is at the heart of his entire business. Whether it's operating the world’s highest alfresco bar or developing luxury villas, Rascal Republic puts conservation and sustainability at the fore.

One of their most intriguing projects is the Rascal Voyages Exploration Series. Their maiden yacht (also named Rascal) is a 30 meter (98.5 ft), hand-crafted, ironwood and teak ship with five above-deck, air-conditioned, en-suite cabins equipped with flat-screen TVs and Sonos music systems. Purpose-built to explore Indonesia’s remote islands in comfort and style, she was inspired by Ebsworth’s genuine appreciation for the beauty of this land.

Unfortunately, after launching Rascal, Ebsworth and his team discovered that the region’s marine environment was not as pristine as they first thought. “There was ocean pollution, including plastic pollution. And there was the destruction of reefs,” he says.

Rascal Voyages had already committed to operating sustainably—forgoing plastic, hiring locally, sourcing local food, and responsibly managing their waste. But taking it a leap further, they partnered with Conservation International (CI), a non-profit environmental group that uses science, policy, and partnerships to protect nature for the benefit of all.

And so the Rascal Exploration Series was born.

“A typical voyage on Rascal costs about $10,000 per night for 10 people,” says Ebsworth. “Then, for the Exploration Series, guests pay about $12,500 per night.” The difference goes directly to Conservation International to support their work.

For the price, intrepid travellers can join the CI scientists as they conduct research on local marine life and create marine protected areas. These surveys take passengers into waters so remote that most tourists never get to see them.

“We’ve done about half a dozen of these voyages,” ways Ebsworth “and we’ve identified about 25 new species of fish and a new species of walking shark.”

Guests can get as hands-on as they like. They may choose to participate directly in the research, or simply sit back, drink in the Instagramable scenery, and enjoy unparalleled hospitality from Rascal’s VIP crew.

“It’s an amazing experience. Very, very powerful. A positive experience,” says Ebsworth. And he believes that’s the key to spurring even more interest in conservation. Because when people have positive experiences they happily spread the news and support the research that needs to be done.

When asked if the Exploration Series has had a positive impact on his businesses, Ebsworth explained:

“Yeah. Experiences such as this—you’d probably call it impact tourism or holidays with a purpose or purposeful tourism—I think it’s the new luxury. I think people are bored with 6 and 7-star resorts. They’ve done that; they’ve been there."

For the full interview, please click here.

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