Focus Areas

Alternatives in Tourism

The National Consultation on Alternative Practices was held on August 28, 2021. Participation on the panel was from across various geography of India and from different niche practices.     

Walking Culinary Tours  

Anubhav Sapra from Delhi Food Walks represented the walking tours niche. They are a culinary tourism company that specializes in food walking tours across Delhi. These initiatives have been crucial in documenting and representing the food culture of Delhi to travelers as an experience.  
Anubhav has recounted his entrepreneurial career, which began with him writing culinary blogs as a hobby and progressed to him leading tourists on walking tours to learn more about what he wrote. Along with his YouTube channel, his walking food tours have grown to all states in India. According to him, the popularity of walking tours is due to the fact that the attention is equally on gastronomy as it is on the culture.

Pandurang Taware, founder of Agri Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) was also a Speaker on the Panel. ATDC is a company that facilitates agricultural tourism in the Indian state of Maharashtra. ATDC helps farmers across Maharashtra to adopt agri-tourism as an alternative means of diversifying business opportunities and securing a viable livelihood.  
Pandurang is known as the Father of the Agri Tourism Concept in India. “Agritourism is about enabling the tourist to live an alternative life of a farmer, participate in agricultural activities, ride in a bullock cart, take a tractor ride, fly kites, eat real cuisine, dress traditionally, learn about the local culture, listen to folk songs and dance, and buy fresh farm products to help the farmer sustain his farm and support the family” according to Pandurang.

Dr. Tathagata Neogi is the Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Leader of Immersive Trails, a purpose-driven company based out of Kolkata, India, that converts ethical, in-depth research into immersive experiences. Immersive Trails is a purpose-driven company that makes travel and learning more accessible and enriching by translating in-depth, ethical research into immersive virtual experiences.  
In 2017, Neogi and Chelsea McGill launched Immersive Trails, according to him. I was there during the COVID19 limitations and lockdown, which offered us a chance to pivot, allowing individuals who were confined to their homes to travel digitally via their immersive experience. Neogi believes that technology and virtual space will play a significant part in travel in the new normal. We can provide value and a different experience by properly utilising the virtual. He went on to say that virtual and physical travel will not exist in isolation. These will be tightly intertwined, with each adding value to the other.  

Waste Management in Tourism  

Etosha Chatterjee represented the Waste Warriors, which is a non-governmental organization that works extensively on waste collection, waste management consultancy, event waste management in the tourism hotspots destinations of Himachal Pradesh and, Uttarakhand such as Dehradun, Dharamshala, Corbett National Park. They are also working in tourism waste management destinations such as Goa and other parts of the country.  
As a result of its proclivity for overconsumption, tourism generates a significant amount of trash and pollution. While tourism contributes to the world's garbage problem, it can also contribute to its solution. Through an awareness programme, volunteerism, and the development of a system for sustainable garbage collection and disposal, the Waste Warriors have been trying to keep the major tourist destination clean.

Accessible Tourism  
Neha Arora founder of Planet-Abled represented the accessible tourism segment in the consultation. Planet Abled as an organization provides accessible travel solutions and leisure excursions for people with different disabilities. Planet Abled exclusively customizes tours according to the different abled travelers so that they are fully able to enjoy and thus create a platform for inclusive tourism.  
According to the World Health Organization, over one billion people – almost 15% of the world's population - live with some sort of disability, ranging from mobility and cognitive impairments to vision and hearing impairment. Furthermore, disability affects more than 2 billion individuals. Born to parents with disabilities and the personal challenging experiences faced in traveling, she realized a huge gap existed in the Indian Society regarding accessible tourism. This lead to her starting Planet Abled where she and her team are working towards making accessible tourism mainstream.

Community Tours  
Curtain Call Adventures, founded by textile designer and Northeast native Julie Kagti, offers personalized and customizable excursions for small groups throughout India's Northeastern states. The goal of Curtain Call is to help the traveler experience the destination like a local.  
Julie has stated that the local community's support has aided her in bringing together the community tours. The most significant effect she has observed as a result of her programme is that women from rural communities have participated in providing tourists with opportunities to learn about their culture through cuisine or storytelling sessions. She went on to say that community tours are a long-term solution for empowering rural communities by giving them an alternative source of income.

The National Consultation was an excellent discourse in which numerous alternative practitioners gathered to explore their respective specialized areas. The lack of representation of such practitioners at the national and policy levels was also brought up during the conversation. Furthermore, the conversation emphasized the significance of a collaborative platform for practitioners to engage in more long-term improvements for ethical and equitable tourism.