SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN NORTH-EAST INDIA
Our holidays are meant to make the world we live in a better place. Professionally, we have done so by applying sustainable tourism policies in our operations. These methods have been implied after careful research and based on tools and resources developed by the leading tourism councils of the world such as The Travel Foundation and United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Our current integrations are:
1. PROVIDE A VALUE TO THE CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL HERITAGE, SO LOCAL PEOPLE PRESERVE AND PROTECT IT.
This is a very important aspect of any responsible tourism initiative. Especially in a place like Northeast India where more than 200 tribes and religions coexist, each with their own intricate and valuable cultural and historical heritage. If local people know that a part of the reason travelers visit their area is because of the historical sites, the songs, the festivals, and their way of life, then they are more likely to want to preserve and protect these aspects of their society, rather than change them with western ways or migrate into urban culture.
In Northeast India, the recent two decades have witnessed the loss of indigenous culture and migration of local population to urban areas. This has been mainly due to the lack of income opportunities in the villages. But tourism is slowly changing this. We have personally witnessed how travelers are helping in the preservation of the many cultures of the region. Local people are today more conscious and proud of their heritage, and have begun to take steps to ensure the preservation and protection of this heritage.
As part of our commitment to sustainable tourism, we help our guests understand the local customs in a progressive manner. This is because, at times, local people can be offended by a tourist’s behavior, irrespective of whether done unintentionally, such as nudity or immodest cloths, excessive consumption of drugs or alcohol or disregard for sacred places. Instead, by using our progressive approach, we promote proper waste disposal, electricity and water conservation, and gaining from the knowledge of our guests, thus leaving a positive footprint on the places we and our guests visit.
2. PROVIDE A VALUE TO THE NATURAL HERITAGE AND BIODIVERSITY, WILDLIFE AND WILD PLACES, SO LOCAL PEOPLE PRESERVE AND PROTECT IT.
As tour operators based in one of the world’s most important biodiversity area, it is our responsibility and passion to ensure we play a part in the protection and preservation of the natural richness of Northeast India. When a guest visits an area for the rivers, wildlife, wild places, landscapes, flora or fauna, the local communities who reside within these areas are encouraged to preserve and protect the natural richness. Promoting small scale but exquisite wildlife tourism in the region is a key way of spearheading conservation initiatives. Through our tours which deal with natural places, we are actively supporting the wildlife departments of the region and bringing sustainable income to the communities who reside in these places. This has resulted in a positive impact throughout the region. The biodiversity of the region is safer today then a decade back. The wildlife departments have been recruiting more guards and the villages have been witnessing sustainable development. Whenever possible, we leave an impact on the places we visit. This is done in company excursions where our founders and guides interact with local communities and educate them about the importance of conservation and the value of wildlife. We’ve also been using Social Media to promote the region as an exclusive wildlife destination and at the same time, raise a voice against environment crimes in the region such as logging and poaching. The channels we use regularly are Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Forums and YouTube. In the future though, we have all plans to open community based wildlife tourism projects where the communities will actively engage and be educated in conservation projects.
3. CHOOSING LOCAL, MAKING LIVES BETTER
In order to meet our aims, we feel it is important we actively support local services providers over large business based services. We achieve this by – 1) Encouraging local unemployed youths to become freelance tour guides, provide them the according training and then using their services. 2) Using the services of locally run accommodations for our tours, and the same time, encourage others to join in. In many of the places you visit, you will notice we use the services of home-stays, local family owned guesthouses, community guesthouses and small family run hotels. This is a major way we are contributing to our sustainability objectives and at the same time helping travelers have a genuine local experience. 3) Using the services of local car-hire providers and supporting others in opening up their own small agency. 4) We’ve observed that hotels and tourist centers engage in selling souvenirs made thousands of miles away. Due to this, we promote the use and sell of authentic crafts made from local resources which provide income to local communities. We also encourage local women to participate in the production of arts and crafts, which we then help sell. This also gives our guests an opportunity to help by buying such products.
4. SUPPORTING LOCAL GOOD CAUSES, RAISING FUNDRAISERS – GIVING BACK
As per our sustainable tourism objectives, we’ve decided to play an active part in supporting local charities. This is done by – 1) Hosting an annual fundraiser which is dedicated to having a large scale positive impact on sustainability and conservation. We generously contribute to this fundraiser from our annual profit and also encourage our staff, guests, families and local businesses to donate. 2) 1% from each tour we sell goes to a local or global charity. We have researched and selected a few charities for this initiative based on their relevance to our responsible tourism objectives. We also provide our guests an option to choose the charity they would like their tours to contribute to. 3) Since Northeast India is prone to floods and few other natural calamities, whenever such an event occurs we try our best to help the needy. In the floods that ravaged Assam in 2012, we were involved in donating used cloths and household items to the displaced population.
More information on our responsible & sustainable tourism policy, including our workplace initiatives, can be read here.