For the first time, we are idle during lockdown, unable to arrange trips. An occasion to reflect on the future of tourism in a post-Covid-19 era.
How to be a responsible traveler in India
- Forget elephant rides at Amber Fort or Kaziranga National Park. Domestication of elephants often involves cruel practices which tourists don't want to encourage.
- Ban single-use plastics like plastic straws or polythene bags. Ask for paper or bamboo straws, or drink from your glass! Carry or buy a jute bag for shopping. Drink filtered water, as provided safely by many hotels and restaurants, and refill your bottle.
- Reduce and keep your waste till you can responsibly discard it. Many places lack a proper waste management system, while tourists generate way more waste than local residents, especially in rural or hilly areas. Be as frugal as you can, and carry your waste till you reach your hotel or the nearest city.
- Reduce your carbon footprint: avoid flights for short and medium distances. Some categories of train offer a high level of comfort over a half day journey: for instance the Gatimaan Express from Delhi to Agra, or any Shatabdi train. And for the intrepid traveler, an overnight train journey is a low cost edifying experience!
- Zero carbon? Cycle or Trek! Visiting congested Old Delhi by car can be a nightmare. If your health condition permits, why don't you cycle through narrow lanes and courtyards? A guide will be happy to share their love for the old city and its offbeat spots. Further, you can hike for a day as part of a road trip, or trek few days across Himalayan trails.
- Embrace Slow Travel: drive less, enjoy more. Classic sightseeing itineraries typically cover stops in less than two days. Pick less stops for your trip, and stay longer. Travelers who follow this principle end up more content than others, because they actually have time to wander off, improvise activities, and rest. Other travelers worry more about their tight schedule, in case of unexpected transport or weather disruption.
- Eat local produce and delicacies. Tasting local food is an integral part of your Indian experience. It also supports local farmers and reduces your carbon footprint. If you feel like having a pizza in Tamil Nadu, enjoy an Uttapam instead!
- Pay a fair price. Quality handicraft comes at a price in India. If the the product has been intricately designed, with high quality materials, and if the artisans have been paid a decent wage for their skills and work, the product won't be cheap. Don't negotiate a discount in exchange for tax avoidance. Bargain reasonably, and patiently. We will send you more shopping tips before your trip.
- Support women-led initiatives: women account for only 12% of the tourism workforce in India, a very low rate. But tourism has the potential to provide women with more opportunities, not only for workforce participation, but also for leadership roles and entrepreneurship. Support women who have started their own travel related ventures or who break stereotypes, like Pink Rickshaw drivers in Jaipur.
- Support community-based initiatives: many of you look for authentic experiences and opportunities to meet people. Try and promote grassroots initiatives where local residents aren't objectified in an ornamental role, but are actors of their own economic and cultural development through tourism. The language barrier can be a problem, but we are here to help you coordinate with your hosts and overcome this obstacle.
- Read, watch and discover more about your destination. We will send you suggestions of