Invader from the Steppes

Milena Nguyen

May 21, 2015

Veteran Mongolia hand Andy Parkinson brings ecotourism savvy
to Hanoi


“Since when have you been interested in environmental sustainability?”

_DSC0121-001“Since… forever?”

Andy Parkinson, seasoned adventure travel and ecotourism pioneer, smirks at the question. To him the answer was too obvious. He qualified in Geography, Ecology and Sustainable Design. Having worked in or founded three companies in the field, Andy is kind of a true Earth-guy.

“Everything I do has an environmental sustainability angle, whether it is tourism, conservation or sustainable design.”

“Since I was little, I’ve been interested in outdoor and wildlife. I ended up choosing related study subjects. You know, I am not a city guy,” Andy said. “So Hanoi is an interesting challenge,” he uttered with a chuckle.

A Restless Outdoorsman in the Big City

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Andy, a soft-spoken Englishman with a calm presence and sincere look in his eyes, is a husband and a father. He came to Vietnam as an accompanying partner.

Andy feels happy about his wife’s work, his kids’ education. But, he added, “As trailing spouses, we have to deal more with the family, finding the school, the house. Then what do we do?”

His answers have been yoga at Zenith, crazy cycling trips with Hanoi Cycling Group, and the ClickSpace coworking community.

“ClickSpace is great. Get out of the house! I participated in a personal branding workshop and got some mentoring on marketing, which got me thinking.”

Thus a new chapter in Andy’s ecotourism career began.

Big Salmon, Big Landscapes

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“How tall are you?” He asks me.

“About 1.60…?”

“The salmon in Mongolia can get that big,” he tells me as astonishment still beams in his voice.

 Before Hanoi Andy lived for 13 years in Mongolia. For 10 of them he had his own fly-fishing business: Fish Mongolia []. But his ecotourism mindset wouldn’t allow him to stop at taking tourists to fish the country’s majestic rivers and streams. Andy also laid the foundations for numerous conservation initiatives to protect the Taimen.

In 2013, Andy sold Fish Mongolia to Nomadic Journeys, a larger ecotourism business that also runs a rival fly fishing operation.  Nomadic Journeys has just hired him back as a consultant. Working remotely from Vietnam, and with help from experts he met at ClickSpace, Andy is now helping them reinvent their business model and marketing.

Bringing the Lessons of Mongolia to Vietnam

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Andy is also maneuvering to apply his passion and consulting expertise to help Vietnam’s ecotourism sector. Despite increasing numbers of tourists and the country’s huge potential, he has found some tourism services in Vietnam underwhelming.

“It is possible to build a viable ecotourism company in Vietnam if you find your own niche and do that.” The way to succeed is to work with community and conservation, to pioneer and innovate instead of copying.

“I’m seeing what I can do to help tourism companies here with their marketing, business development. And then next is to formulate a new business model “

 Andy still misses Mongolia’s wild landscape. But not for long. “Nomadic Journeys has invited me back to Mongolia this summer,” he reveals with joy in his voice. He also considers offering a tourism marketing workshop at ClickSpace when he returns.

Andy is looking for a ‘Chief Editor’ for Nomadic Journeys. The role will include website copy, blog posts, and social media, on an ad hoc basis. Years of stories on exploring Mongolia wilderness are waiting to be told. He is also looking to connect with freelancers for website design projects he is working on.

Find out more or contact Andy Parkinson:

– Email:

– Linkedin:

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