21 Apr 2023

How Locally Curated Experiences Empower Communities

Environmental, economic, and socio-cultural threats–the deeply concerning outcomes of mass tourism - have left an indelible imprint on the most alluring destinations. It is not unknown that in some places where tourism has gone out a whack, travellers have even encountered some form of hostility from the locals.


The avenues that the sustainable tourism movement has opened have given an excellent impetus to tour operators to rethink their portfolio of programmes to diminish their negative travel footprint and provide more wholesome, holistic experiences by roping in the locals.

While this situation may still be in its infancy, it holds the promise of blossoming into one of the world’s most powerful contributions to protecting our environment from the negative aspects associated with travel.

That said, the number of agencies providing a wide spectrum of ethical travel programmes across different geographies, with minimal negative impact, is on the rise. Operators, such as Distinct Destinations and Alphonso Stories, for example, are reaping the benefits of being the early birds–lots of repeat business as consumers themselves in larger numbers are choosing to go the sustainable way when visiting a holiday destination.


What has given a further boost to their operations have been the like-minded people they have partnered with–hoteliers, transporters, art and crafts experts, guides, etc.

Positively giving back to communities, to enhance their socio-economic living conditions, and helping protect their land, has certainly become more streamlined with these kinds of partnerships in place. Sustainable living practices regarding the communities, and in areas like hygiene, water, waste and sanitation in these reimagined travel programmes, have resonated beautifully with the responsible traveller looking to making a positive difference during their visit to a place.

Supporting the locals gives them a great sense of contributing to noble cause — of creating income opportunities, respecting their customs, and culture and not indulging in any activities which will be detrimental to their environment. Even vulnerable villages and the forest ecosystems of the wildlife habitats of endangered species have benefited from these carefully curated travel programmes.

Important holidays hubs across India–from Jodhpur in Rajasthan to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, from Alleppy in Kerala to Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu, are reflecting the benefits of tours that are carefully positioned to drive the ‘go local, buy local’ agenda. This not only ensures consumer spend pushes the local economy by supporting local businesses and buying local products, but also helps generate employment. The ripple-like effect of even the smallest of such acts can, in the long run, contribute to the upliftment of the local community (including artisans, entrepreneurs, suppliers), empower women and the youth, give a fresh lease to dying arts and crafts, boost production, which are critical to the local economy.

Keeping in mind the consequences of invasive actions in natural and cultural environments, the responsible traveller is increasingly choosing outfitters whose programmes focus on encouraging the guest to embrace the local culture, history and heritage of the community — while creating the grounds for a holistic connection with the destination.

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