‘Let’s Unravel Travel’ Series
Our latest dispatches series brings you stories from positive grassroots initiatives and a personal account of some not-so-good tourism activities happening on the ground. Amy, Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Initiative’s latest recruit, shares some first hand experiences from India.
Sadly this is the last in the India series, but we’ve enjoyed sharing these personal accounts of responsible and irresponsible tourism examples…we’re going to do more! Watch this space. .
Praise for the goodies!
Reality Tours & Travel (Mumbai, India)
Slum tourism can be a little controversial, but I really believe that Reality Tours have hit the nail on the head and developed an inspirational responsible tourism model. Reality Tours are based in the popular Colaba district of Mumbai and they deliver eye opening city tours delivered by local people. 80% of their profits are reinvested into community initiatives, including the development of an educational community hub in Dharavi slum. Their tour to the settlement of Dharavi ensures that no photography is taken, visits do not intrude on people’s lives, money is spent within the community and that these ‘real Indian’ experiences are mutually beneficial to visitors and locals. They’re dedicated to paying their guides a fair wage and provide exciting employment opportunities for young people. More information (link to website).
- Reality Tours gets stuck in with local events and has recently hosted music classes for youngsters and events to celebrate World Woman’s Day
- They give guests tipping tips to ensure fair pricing strategy and to avoid embarrassment
Some things that have got me worried…
Trekking guides without correct equipment or training in Kerala (India)
Chembra Peak is Wayanad’s highest peak, nestled in a beautiful corner of Kerala. A trekking guide is compulsory. However it’s disappointing to see untrained guides taking people into fragile environments with no mobile phones, first aid kit, torches, jacket nor appropriate footwear – worse still, no food and no drink for themselves. Tourism needs to realize the huge potential that well trained guides can have in educating guests about local culture and environment as well as delivering practical steps to protect their natural assets.
The need for Responsible Tourism and Wild Asia
These positive stories highlight the need for responsible tourism everywhere in the world and showcase that tourism can be a force for good. These are just a small handful of inspirational schemes that are out there. But the benefits to local people speak for themselves. Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Awards recognises best practice in responsible tourism, rewarding businesses by giving them the recognition they deserve. More information on our Awards.
Wild Asia has been championing responsible tourism for over ten years. But we know that in many destinations there is still a lot of work to be done. Wild Asia can provide bespoke training courses for tourism operators to raise awareness on how to reduce environmental impacts or ensure local communities benefit from tourism. The sad stories of poor tourism development show troubles from the top and bottom. Wild Asia continues to work with industry level groups to influence how tourism operates and travelers must remember to take responsibility into their own hands. Please get in touch if you are a tourism business and would like to enquire about responsible tourism training.
(Photos: Amy McLoughlin, except image of family Dharavi slum: credit Reality Tours)