Max Sinclair is CEO of Eco Companion, a company that exists to help people find their perfect sustainable holiday in nature. In this exclusive Q&A, he talks about what inspired him to start up the business, and the key points he’ll be covering in his session at BTTS18.
What inspired you to start Eco Companion?
After working for years in the mass tourism industry at large corporations like Travelzoo I felt that my excessively ambitious nature just needed more of a challenge. I thought about what I wanted to do with my life and settled into the view that my ultimate goal is to deliver as vast a positive impact as I possibly could!
Eco Companion is the perfect vessel to allow me to achieve this goal. We are on a mission to create a place for nature in tomorrow’s world through inspiring the average person to enjoy true eco-tourism! This mission is one that many others have already tried in various forms, but no one has executed well enough and to the scale required.
When I deliver on the vision I have for the business, we will be able to drive the entirety of the nature tourism industry towards a more sustainable approach. When you consider that the nature tourism industry makes up 20% of the total tourism market and tourism is the biggest industry in the world, that is pretty much as big a positive impact as you can dream of!
How has ecotourism grown in the last couple of years?
Ecotourism has continued to grow at a considerable rate now for the past 20 years. There is a huge demand now from travelers to have their experiences delivered in a way that will impact the local environment, economy and culture in a positive way. So that means real active conservation work on top of just minimising energy use, for example.
More and more of the world see now there’s an urgent need to change the way we act, and to save the planet we depend on. So more and more Brits are passionately invested in trying to actually do something about it.
What are the key points you’ll be covering in your session at this year’s BTTS?
I’ll start with a quick look at where it all began and then what the eco-tourism industry looks like broadly speaking today. I’ll shed some light on the habits of the average eco-tourist. Plus I’ll take some time to consider the ‘green elephant in the room’ that is greenwashing and the impact it can have. I’ll then finish with the big opportunity that I see for the UK in particular within the ecotourism industry.
What do you hope visitors will take away from your session at BTTS?
I hope they leave the session with a fresh view of just how much demand there now is for sustainable nature tourism, and the huge opportunity that it represents to whoever takes the leap.
Do you think ecotourism has a strong future in coach/group travel?
It definitely can be an effective format if done right. As with any model you use, there is generally a huge spectrum of quality. From the worst end, it can be polluting and destructive to the local area and make the lives of local residents worse, and from the positive end, it can be an extremely environmentally efficient way to allow for groups to see the natural world and at a price that’s realistic.
Max Sinclair’s session on Is Ecotourism right for the UK? will take place on March 21, at 3:15 – 4pm.
British Tourism & Travel Show returns to NEC Birmingham on 21-22 March 2018. For further information and to register, please visit www.tourismshow.co.uk. (https://eventdata.uk/Visitor/BTTS2018.aspx?TrackingCode=BTTSPR)