Cambodia Investment Review

E123: Vanda Horn on Solo Landscapes Business Model & Eco-Tourism Growth in Cambodia

E123: Vanda Horn on Solo Landscapes Business Model & Eco-Tourism Growth in Cambodia

Cambodia Investment Review

On episode 123 of the Rising Giants podcast,” Max Thornton and Dominic Kalousek sat down with Vanda Horn, the Co-Founder and CEO of Solo Landscapes, to discuss the growing eco-tourism industry in Cambodia. Solo Landscapes is an adventure tour operator that caters to explorers and nature lovers, emphasizing environmental sustainability and community engagement.

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Vanda Horn’s journey into the world of eco-tourism began with a personal blog documenting his travels across Cambodia. “I always enjoyed traveling,” Vanda shared. “Starting a personal blog about my travels led me to work with tour agents to bring more nature lovers to these beautiful areas in Cambodia. We launched Solo Landscapes around 2020, right during the COVID-19 pandemic when international travel was restricted. Initially, it was just small weekend groups, but we soon realized there was a growing demand for eco-tourism. This prompted us to scale our business.”

Unique Experiences That Highlight The Country’s Natural & Cultural Heritage

Solo Landscapes offers various trips across Cambodia, providing unique experiences that highlight the country’s natural and cultural heritage. “Our business trips offer destinations with a lot of different experiences,” Vanda explained. “We get many bookings through social media, which helps people understand more about Cambodia’s history and protected areas. Our tours provide a different experience compared to self-planned trips, with more activities throughout the day. This is especially popular for team trips and solo travelers looking to meet others.”

Discussing the broader eco-tourism market in Cambodia, Vanda noted a significant shift during the pandemic. “There was a growing interest among Cambodians to explore their own country because they couldn’t travel abroad. This trend led to a surge in domestic tourism, allowing locals to reconnect with their culture and heritage. Unlike traditional tourist hotspots like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, our tours require more time to reach, but we also offer shorter day trips from Phnom Penh.”

Vanda Horn, the Co-Founder and CEO of Solo Landscapes.

Solo Landscapes tailors its routes based on customer feedback, gauging the level of activity preferred. “We offer a preset list of activities, but for private groups, we can customize the experience,” Vanda said. “Some of our most popular activities are exclusive to the locations we visit, and we provide full services.”

The Domestic Market For Travel Is Thriving, Especially On Weekends

The company currently employs four full-time staff and around seven freelancers, running trips weekly. Reflecting on their commitment to eco-tourism, Vanda emphasized, “We aim to leave the areas we visit as we found them. Providing jobs to local people helps prevent activities like wildlife poaching and deforestation. We work with various organizations and the government to preserve wildlife and promote sustainable tourism.”

Read More: Success Of Cambodian Eco-Tourism Highlighted By International Award

Vanda also highlighted the potential for team-building activities in the eco-tourism sector. “There’s a good market for soft adventures that facilitate team-building and developing relationships among employees. Many companies are showing interest in this.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Vanda shared plans for Solo Landscapes. “The domestic market is thriving, especially on weekends. We are exploring new spots and have many loyal customers. We also plan to expand outside Cambodia, offering trips to Laos and Vietnam. Additionally, we’re developing a unique booking platform to promote our company and provide loyalty benefits for regular customers.”

In closing, Vanda offered advice for those entering the eco-tourism industry. “Go to communities that need support and develop trust with the people there. It’s essential to care for those you work with in remote areas of the Kingdom.” Solo Landscapes continues to thrive by balancing business growth with a commitment to environmental sustainability and community development, setting a benchmark for eco-tourism in Cambodia.

Listen to the full podcast here.

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