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Home Business Government’s top innovation agency backs flight-free travel by funding Byway alongside industry leaders

Government’s top innovation agency backs flight-free travel by funding Byway alongside industry leaders

by maria


Byway closes £1.1 million in funding from Innovate UK and angel investors to drive growth in  sustainable, flight-free holidays

London, 6th July 2021 – While the travel industry has been hit

hard by the pandemic, traveltech startup Byway is growing fast

thanks to a surge in appetite for unique and environmentally

friendly travel. Following a successful first year, Byway, the world’s

first flight-free holiday platform, has announced £1.1 million of

funding from an Innovate UK SMART grant as well as Founders

Factory and angel investors. Angels include founder/CEO of Viator

and Rome2Rio, Rod Cuthbert, slow travel guru Ed Gillespie, and

former Chair of Visit Britain, Christopher Rodrigues CBE.

Byway is building 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.

Byway offers hyper-personalised flight-free holidays that take travellers away from the  crowds by train, bus and boat, built in just a few clicks. This funding will accelerate Byway’s  growth, expanding the technical, customer experience and marketing teams (there are  currently five open roles) and extending its groundbreaking flight-free dynamic packaging  technology, which allows holiday makers to instantly create slow travel holidays built to their  preferences.

Since launching in mid 2020, over 7,500 trips have been built with Byway’s dynamic trip  builder, a technology that allows flight-free travel to scale in a way that’s not been possible  before. As travel opens back up, the business, certified a Pending B Corporation, is scaling  rapidly with customers more than happy to take the scenic route, evidenced by a 100% five  star review record to date.

Cat Jones, Founder and CEO of Byway, 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.”

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.”

Byway packages up complete ABTA-protected holidays, built by matching an intricate  understanding of each traveller’s wants and needs with its deep knowledge of slow travel  gems across its destinations in the UK, France, and Italy.

Nicky Borasinski, who travelled with Byway to the Isle of Mull, Scotland and has booked a  second trip later this year, added:

“We originally booked with Byway because the pandemic meant we couldn’t travel  internationally and we’d been looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint, but  we had such a great time that slow travel holidays will now be firmly part of our lives  for years to come.”