From architecture to guiding, outdoor education to tourism, with a degree of self-deprecation Trent Yeo says he “wandered with purpose” into the tourism industry.
Ten years down the track, what he’s achieved in setting up pioneering zipline company Ziptrek Ecotours, in tandem with multiple roles in industry organisations, events and working groups, on boards, as a speaker, facilitator, participant or host, is now being recognised.
This week he has been named a finalist in the prestigious New Zealand Tourism Awards in the Emerging Tourism Leader category, recognising his work as an outstanding tourism professional.
The Queenstown-based multi-award-winning Zipline Ecotours is celebrating ten years in business this year, as the pioneers of ziplining in New Zealand and a recognised leader in business innovation, eco-tourism and sustainable business practice.
At its heart, it’s an eco-tourism company, aiming to educate and inspire others towards long-term environmental and sustainable practices. And Trent could not be more proud of what the company has achieved.
“Ziptrek Ecotours is now woven into the Queenstown’s deep tourism heritage,” he says. “Tens of thousands of people every year now hear a story of humanity’s link to our natural world.
“I am passionate about travel as a multiculturally influenced Chinese-Malaysian-Australian proudly in Aotearoa. The effect of empathy of places and people through travel is profound, and tourism has to be of ‘net good’ for the individual, community and planet.”
Trent says the value he brings to the wider tourism industry is as a generalist, a collaborator and with connections outside tourism.
“I’m optimistic and macro-focussed, simultaneously patient and impatient about delivering with more impact. I’m in tourism because it counts, because tourism is an investment in people.
“This may seem grand, but the emotional component of tourism is the most powerful aspect of tourism; the experience economy. We must transform thinking around humanity’s role in sustainability.”
Much of Trent’s value to the industry is through tourism and across other sectors, such as technology, startups and future focussed projects.
Forty percent of his time is spent on unpaid work, direct and indirect tourism and ‘extracurricular’ work on a national or local level, as a business leader and citizen.
“I’m very proud to be a finalist in the awards and to be a part of this amazing industry of people in Aotearoa,” says Trent. “There are some outstanding finalists in all categories and I’m looking forward to the awards night in October.”