The ICRT India network was founded on 5th July 2017 India’s partner of the international ICRT. Our objectives are to
- assist Responsible Travel Practitioners or start-ups, who are focused on doing positive work in the field of Responsible Tourism in India;
- promote the idea of Responsible Tourism
We promote the concept of Responsible Tourism as defined in the Cape Town Declaration.
India has huge potential to develop Responsible Tourism and there are many parts of the country, which can offer some of the most unique experiences and opportunities for travellers to understand local life and to immerse in the rich traditional and cultural heritage. In addition, they are also contributing to the local economy which creates stronger positive relationships between the guests and the hosts.
However, the way to promote such tourism practices is only possible when efforts from public and private sectors are collaborated to create something for the betterment of the local communities. If each effort, works independently without any consultations from each other, there is no collective responsibility created in Tourism. ‘’Responsible Tourism is only possible when each stakeholder takes the responsibility of its impacts’’.
There are many good examples of positive work in the field of Responsible Tourism in India. ‘Kerala Responsible Tourism’, has been working positively towards the aims of helping the local communities and ensuring the benefits from Tourism reaches the wider community. There are such similar examples of Responsible Tourism initiatives in India, like Village Ways, which has been working in several parts of the country to develop and promote Village Tourism and create positive impacts through positive Responsible Tourism practices. Since there are many such ideal concepts, which exist in India and which can set as a good source of guidance and assistance to new initiatives, the ICRT India network will help link such experiences to those who are genuinely interested in making a difference to spread the movement of Responsible Tourism in India. ICRT will also try and bring together public and private sectors to promote joint efforts towards the growth of Responsible Tourism in India.
The Outlook Responsible Tourism Initiative by India’s leading publishing company, the Outlook Group, has also been making an effort, since 2015, to mainstream ethical tourism in India, and build a sense of community among responsible travel businesses in the region. Apart from their annual awards and conference with global experts, they run regional workshops, consumer awareness campaigns on print, digital and TV platforms, and research projects, among others.
The India Responsible Tourism Awards, part of the World Responsible Tourism Awards are run by Outlook India.
ICRT India will work closely with ICRT internationally and will take their guidance on the different programmes and projects, which they undertake from time to time.
The founding members of ICRT India network are Soity Banerjee, K. Rupesh Kumar and Manisha Pande. They will be responsible for all work undertaken by ICRT India.
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Founder Members of the ICRT India Network
For 15 years, as a travel and food journalist, Soity Banerjee has contributed to the BBC, Outlook, India Today, Outlook Traveller, Mint Lounge and the Indian editions of National Geographic Traveller and Lonely Planet Guidebooks, among others. More recently, as the Project Editor at Outlook Responsible Tourism Initiative, Soity and her team have been working with public and private stakeholders to effect change by gathering and sharing knowledge, mapping best practices in India (and South Asia); hosting an annual conference with local and international experts; conducting prestigious awards and state-level workshops; running awareness campaigns for consumers through TV, print and digital platforms; investing in research and advocacy to help shape policy in the long run. As a 22-year-old media company with several respected publications, Outlook hopes to catalyse change in the fastest growing sub-region (for tourism) in the world and demonstrate to more business owners that responsible travel companies can be profitable.
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Joined the family business of running a hotel inside the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary in 2002. In 2004, Manisha and her husband along with other friends co-founded ‘Village Ways’ to help sustain the villages of the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand , which were under serious threat of outmigration due to lack of livelihood opportunities. Currently holding responsibility as ‘Managing Director’ in Village Ways, Manisha has been working in the field of Responsible Village Tourism for the last 13 years. She has closely supervised the development of ‘Village Tourism Enterprises’ in villages of Indian Himalayan region (Uttarakhand state), Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Kerala and also the overseas project in Nepal. She has also has been working closely with the marketing team based in UK to link the Village Enterprises to the market, which is crucial for the sustainability of these projects. She is also involved in holiday product designing, pricing, sales and other commercial aspects to help the overall administration of the business. Under the guidance of ICRT UK (Professor Harold Goodwin), she has been working on impact studies and has developed a simple system for collection of data from the communities who are engaged in Tourism activities. These studies have helped to show the economic impacts up to household levels. Manisha has also been working on government projects related to consultancy for development of community projects and also on training. Village Ways has set up a training centre in the Binsar Sanctuary (Uttarakhand), where training is provided to those interested in engaging responsibly in tourism activities in their villages.
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Rupeshkumar Kumaran Nair (K.Rupeshkumar), has played an eminent role to develop Kerala as one of the leading Responsible Tourism Destinations in the world. He was an active participant in the mass movements against the unscientific and unethical development of Tourism in Kerala, especially in Kumarakom. He was also a part of the mass activities that demanded alternative tourism activities in Kumarakom becoming part of the Kerala Responsible Tourism movement from 2007.
Rupesh has since worked as State Responsible Tourism Project Coordinator, Destination Coordinator of Responsible Tourism, State Level Responsible Tourism Field Coordinator, Saparya Tourism Project Coordinator, Alapuzha Backwater tourism master plan Field Coordinator, Kumbalangi and Alapuzha UNDP marketing plan coordinator., and as the Kudumbashree Consultant and Resource person ( Women Empowerment project by Govt: Of Kerala), People’s Planning campaign Resource Person, and member of the monitoring committee of National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme& National cleanliness mission. Rupesh is currently the State Responsible Tourism Mission Coordinator of Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission.
Rupesh developed a new tour package model Village Life Experience as part of Kerala Responsible Tourism which converts traditional livelihood activities as Tourism products. These packages have been recognized by the Govt. of India, as the best Rural Tourism Initiative. Drawing on this experience he developed PEPPER (People’s Participation for Participatory Tourism Planning and Empowerment through Responsible Tourism) ,
2008-9 Kumarakom was awarded national award for the best Responsible Tourism Initiative in India by Govt. of India while he was the Destination Coordinator of Kumarakom RT project and the PATA Gold & Grand award. Responsible Tourism activities under the leadership of K.Rupeshkumar has also achieved UNWTO Ullysses award for Innovations in Public Policy and Governance, PATA Gold & Grand awards , PATA CEO Challenge Award, WTM Highly commended award , and other 6 National awards. Kerala RT Mission won the Outstanding Achievement Award in the Indian Responsible Tourism Awards.