Sustainable growth has been highlighted by the boss of Intrepid Group as the “biggest challenge” facing the global travel sector.

Chief executive James Thornton made the comment as the adventure travel giant revealed a third consecutive year of record growth in revenue, profit and customers in 2018.

The multi-brand Australia-based global operator saw an 18% rise in gross revenue to A$402 million.

Earnings [ebtida] rose by 22% year-on-year to A$16.1 million as more than 430,000 passengers carried across its four tour operator brands.

The figures were released within the group’s 2018 annual report.

It outlined challenges faced including the impact of political events on destinations such as Myanmar and Cuba, expansion into the Chinese market, the slow strategic implementation of an FIT-themed product range, as well as a “steeper than expected learning curve” for new destination management companies in Iceland, Japan and Costa Rica.

Thornton said: “The biggest challenge facing our business and our industry is sustainable growth.

“While growth is nice, it creates a dilemma for anyone who loves travel.

“Over-tourism is a real concern for our industry. We need to work together with communities to provide innovative product that creates better places to live and travel.”

Reviewing the year, Thornton said: “While it’s difficult to admit the things that didn’t go to plan, we firmly believe that transparency makes us a better business.”

However, he described 2018 as the company’s best year ever.

Thornton added: “Our growth has put us in a healthy financial position which is allowing us to further scale our business. We’re also growing the positive impact we’re having as a purpose-led business.”

MoreIntrepid Group revenue soars to £228m