Exclusive Interview: Veteran Conservationist Toby Sinclair

Exclusive Interview: Veteran Conservationist Toby Sinclair
A London-born Scot, Toby first drove out to India in 1974. Credit: Official Website/

In an exclusive conversation with us, veteran conservationist, documentary filmmaker, and responsible tourism advocate Toby Sinclair talks about sustainable tourism, its need, and more

Kartikeya Shankar
December 30 , 2022
02 Min Read

Veteran conservationist, documentary filmmaker and responsible tourism advocate Toby Sinclair probably knows more about tourism in India than anybody else. Sinclair's romance with India began in the 1970s when he became the second foreign tourist to visit Ladakh after it was made accessible to foreign visitors in 1974. We reached out to Sinclair to understand his take on the concept of sustainable tourism, its need, and more.

What's your understanding of the term 'sustainable travel'?
You could call it sustainable if you give back more than you take. But it would be best to look at a raft of parameters: water, land, waste, staff, the local community, and power consumption.


Many people are engaging in debates and discussions about sustainable solo travel. But what about travelling sustainably with family? Is it possible?
All forms of travel can and should meet specific responsible minimum standards. There is no reason why family travel can't. In fact, this is likely the most important. Parents can expose children, and children can educate parents.

As per you, what are some of the tips and tricks to travel consciously with family?
Family travel can be a nightmare for parents and fellow travellers. But it reflects how children are brought up and what they are exposed to. Not everyone has the income to indulge in expensive trips, but we all have a responsibility to host communities, the environment, and our future. For a start, we should consciously patronise companies and properties that try to 'give back'.

Can a trip be 100 per cent sustainable?
Probably not, but that should not stop you from trying. You can buy carbon offset for flights (although I'm not convinced how this works) and visit properties that follow specific rules and meet minimum standards.

What about travelling by air? How can the carbon footprint of aeroplanes be reduced?
It's essential to reduce air travel. It can't be avoided, but we have learnt how to live with Zoom and Teams instead of face-to-face meetings. And if your journey is 4-8 hours away, why not take a train? Remember, discovering your own country is more important than a shopping trip to Dubai.

Any last comments?
Be aware of what we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. Consume less and buy locally. Patronise responsible products, operations, retail etc.

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