Slow-travel specialist Byway Travel has closed £1.1 million in investment to drive growth in its offer of sustainable, flight-free holidays.
Funding has come from government agency Innovate UK through the form of a UK SMART grant, as well as Founders Factory and angel investors including founder of Viator and Rome2Rio, Rod Cuthbert, slow-travel expert Ed Gillespie, and former chair of Visit Britain, Christopher Rodrigues.
Byway is a dynamic packaging specialist aiming to build a new type of holiday focussed on slowing down the journey, personalising the experience and keeping the carbon footprint to a minimum.
Its mission is to bring sustainable leisure travel to the mainstream, building a vibrant travel ecosystem away from tourist hotspots and boosting local economies.
Founder Cat Jones said: “Our tech-driven approach to slow-travel is not just about providing holiday experiences grounded in travelling through, rather than flying over, but about accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable travel. The past year saw the world forced to slow right down. Emerging from lockdown, many people are now choosing slower, more sustainable holidays that take them away from the crowds and help them enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
“We’re taking the time, and the work, out of planning and booking off the beaten path trips by train, boat and bike – and the reception we’ve had has been glowing. Our personalised, experience-based approach and on-demand WhatsApp support means holidaymakers get to spend a whole lot of time enjoying their trip and none at all managing multiple tickets, complicated timetables, and changing travel restrictions.”
Byway, certified a Pending B Corporation, says the funding will accelerate its growth, allowing it to expand its technical, customer experience and marketing teams, and extend its flight-free dynamic packaging technology.
Since launching in 2020, more than 7,500 trips have been built with Byway’s dynamic trip builder, which provides trips with Atol protection.
Angel investor Ed Gillespie said: “Our investment in Byway is not just about a great bet on a company with a superb founding team and obvious traction, but also about supporting a future of reducing carbon emissions.
“Aviation is a massive contributor to climate change, and over-tourism is a huge ecological issue. Tourism can be restorative to both the people on the trip, and the places they visit. That’s a future I want to invest in.”