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RT Awards Maharashtra

June 9, 2020
Olivia Holcombe
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Responsible Tourism Award Winners for Maharashtra, India

WRTA 2017 Best for Poverty Reduction SDG 2 and SDG 8

 

Farm of Happiness or ‘Aanandache Shet’

www.farmofhappiness.com

IRTA 2017 Gold Winner, Best Responsible Tourism Property

The concept is simple, a homestay on a 20 acre organic farm. Tourism is an additional income stream for the farm, a farm diversification, a way of bringing attention and some

glamour to agriculture, providing an introduction to the concept of natural farming and eating consciously; a way of providing an authentic taste of rural life for an urban population which has lost connection with the land. The judges were impressed by the way in which the ethic of responsibility informs all of their practices and its impact in engaging with urban youth and local youth who see a more promising future in agrotourism and organic farming. The organic practices on the farm, the traditional stay facility, the ‘no-alcohol’ policy, the hard core local cuisine are steps towards using tourism to encourage locals and tourists alike to be guardians of their environment and the local culture.

 

Grassroutes Journeys

www.grassroutes.co.in

IRTA 2017 Silver Winner, Best Innovation by a Tour Operator

Grassroutes Journeys offers an experience of off-grid, rustic and authentic holidays with rural people and tribes an opportunity to experience age-old Indian traditions and lifestyles. Their objective is to reduce rural migration to cities, to conserve biodiversity, revive local arts and craft and change the aspirations of both the villagers and the guests. They work with 500 families in 10 villages and report a 30% increase in average annual household income for those families through 6,000-8,000 days of employment in the tribal villages in which they work.

 

Reality Tours and Travel, Mumbai

www.realitytoursandtravel.com

IRTA 2018 Gold Winner, Urban Neighbourhood

Reality Tours and Travel was created in 2005 by Krishna Pujari and Chris Way. Their objective was to show the positive side of slums and to break down negative stereotypes about its residents, and Dharavi, in Mumbai, in particular. In 2007 Reality Tours set up a Community Centre in Dharavi to provide English and computer classes. In August 2009, the NGO Reality Gives to provide education; they have trained 15 local women to provide training in English, computer and soft skills to 400 students using child-centered and interactive teaching methods. They have engaged with 130 children through a variety of sports programs. Reality Gives is funded by donations from travellers and Reality Tours & Travel which gives 80% of their profits, about 30% of their revenue, to support local development projects in Dharavi. To date that amounts to Rp100, 000,000. Around 15,000 people go with Reality Tours into Dharavi led by local people. The tours provide employment for 50 people and for their clients provide an authentic experience and contribute to breaking down harmful stereotypes of slum areas and increase the pride and confidence of local people. Recently the co-founder, Krishna Pujari, was featured in the World Travel and Tourism Council’s “Transforming Our World” series.

In 2012, they were recognised as overall winners of the Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM, London. Since then they have expanded to Rajasthan and Kerala by offering multi-day tours and in 2014, they began working with the New Delhi slum, Sanjay Colony.  The initiative has been replicated in Metro Manila by Smokey Tours. Just short of 85% of clients reported that their perception of life in Dharavi had changed. Independent research by a Durham University student found that 79% had a positive view of Reality Tours, only 5% had a negative view, the remainder were either neutral or did not know of them.

 

Maachli

www.maachli.in

IRTA 2018 Gold Winner, Best Boutique

At Maachli in they offer guests an immersion in nature, an opportunity to be rejuvenated by listening to the rhythmic sound of nature, they aim to “tune man’s cord with nature.” They offer village themed cottages raised above coconut, beetlenut, bananas and spices. Guests engage in the practical and cultural life of the village, and in agriculture and nature. Maachli offers a boutique farm stay; guests are provided with an opportunity to indulge in abundance in a preserved forest where in the last 15 years they have planted 1,000 habitat friendly trees. 90% of the staff are female and local sourcing and recipes ensure that additional incomes are created for many villagers.

 

No Footprints, Mumbai

www.nfpexplore.com

IRTA 2020 Gold Winner, Best Tour Operator

The concept that drives no footprints is simple but the impact is significant. While in rural areas visitors can relatively easily connect with indigenous communities and their culture, this is much more difficult in cities. No Footprints enables visitors to connect with the communities which have made the city what it is over generations, to meet with them, and to hear their stories. No Footprints offer opportunities to meet with Parsees, Bohris, the East Indians and the queer community. The judges were particularly impressed by their Queer Day Out tour, the community curates and leads the tour ensuring its authenticity. When homosexuality was decriminalised in September 2018, No Footprints created a unique experience. “… a full day of flirting with various aspects that frame queer lives of persons in the city. Travellers gain insight into the Queer culture of the city. Its legacies, politics, dirt, the gossip, pleasure culture, oppression faced by the communities, the lingo, the fashion, the conflicts and more!” No Footprints is archiving oral history and creating employment for five walk leaders, two artists and five drag artists. Their food tour has been placed in the top 20 best food tours in the world in the UK's Guardian and they achieve very high scores on TripAdvisor.

 

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