Tourism in India is a gargantuan business (market). We have seen innumerable startups emerging in this sector, growing at lightning pace and achieving new heights. We, at YourStory, understand the potential of the travel startup market, and hence recently we launched TravelSparks, a platform for showcasing emerging startups in the travel sector. One such niche startup in this huge domain is Greener Pastures. Greener Pastures is different than the other travel startups in the sense that, this company offers travel options towards Northeast India only. It is an ecotourism outfit that promotes tours and adventures to exotic destinations around Northeast India. Greener Pastures' passion is to ensure that tourism is responsible and plays a part in benefiting local communities and safeguarding the environment. If we see the map of India, it is easy to notice that Northeast India is only connected to mainland India through a small forty kilometers wide corridor called the Chicken's Neck. This, combined with formidable terrain and armed struggle of the forgone days, has left the region much inaccessible to the outside world. Naturally, much of Northeast India's mountains, rivers and forests are still very remote, virgin and sparsely populated. This has created a magnificent display of nature at its best; incredible biodiversity which environmentalists throughout the world recognize as highly important. Moreover, it is the people of the region who make travelling in Northeast India an unforgettable experience. More than two hundred ethnic tribes reside in the region, different from the cultures of mainland India, these tribes trace their ancestry to faraway lands in Mongolia and Southeast Asia. They follow unique cultures closely intertwined with nature, live simple sustainable lives, and can be regarded as of the most easygoing, welcoming and charming people of India. Intoxicated with tribal hospitality, it is no wonder that the people visiting this region leave after feeling right at home. Much intrigued by the thoughts that might have occurred to the man behind this endeavor, we asked Vaivhav Todi, Co-Founder, Greener Pastures, about his entrepreneurial journey, "I became an entrepreneur early last year I would say, with Greener Pastures, my first enterprise. The main motivation would be Northeast India. Being born there, I have always been overwhelmed by the beautiful landscapes and the many fascinating tribal cultures that inhabit the region. Naturally, I always wanted to do something positive for the region, and make the world aware about the beauty of Northeast India. Being a travel enthusiast, I knew eco-tourism if implied responsibly can really help a lot, and that is how Greener Pastures began."
The team at Greener Pastures consists of passionate locals. A network of independent guides and small service providers are used to ensure the benefits of tourism are distributed evenly among many communities, rather than employing fixed individuals. Other than that, they have a resident guide Pavan, a transport desk and a technical guy.
Vaivhav lists out the reasons that motivated him to take up travel as a profession. He shared with us that he loves traveling and was looking of ways to make a living related to it. "Also, as the world becomes more and more reachable due to modern means, people everywhere are increasingly looking to travel to beyond and far reaching places," he adds. He believes in the fact that traveling is a self-enriching experience, and the fact that the a large number of people also believe in the same has kept the industry thriving. "Lastly, travel in Northeast India is all the more exotic. A whole lot of people are interested in visiting the region but the lack of knowledge and resources come as discouraging. Travel in Northeast India is still a new and growing segment, which makes it interesting, as we get to offer some very unique experiences to our clients," adds Vaivhav.
For a small startup, Greener Pastures has received a decent amount of traction till date. Vaivhav adds how they have been flooded with continuous inquiries for the experiences and have been fortunate to receive guests from all around the world and India. "We have made partnerships with some specialized and some leading travel business from India and abroad who have shown keen interest in our products. A lot of focus has surprisingly come from within Northeast India, as we have had people commend us for trying to make the region more accessible to the whole world," adds Vaivhav.
Travel is an ever growing industry consisting of many large companies who have a lot of resources at their hand. This makes it challenging for small and more specialized enterprises such as Greener Pastures to compete and get noticed. Another challenge for Vaivhav and his team is to change people's perception about Northeastern India. "Since the region has seen hostile activities for the last few decades, many still see Northeast India as a insecure destination. This shouldn't be happening. There are a lot of places in the region which are absolutely safe and it is important that these places get recognized for their stunning virgin vistas and charming cultures," says Vaivhav.
Greener Pastures has forged relationships with some leading travel companies such as getyourguide (Germany), muchbetteradventures(UK), and GoIbibo (India), and thus expanded globally. Recently in August, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, invited Greener Pastures in an event showcasing the most inspiring startups of India. "A more personal achievement for Greener Pastures has been the positive response we have received from the many tribal communities who are involved in our tours. They have appreciated our efforts to bring sustainable progress to their villages and have been graceful enough to open their hearts and houses to visiting tourists," says a proud Vaivhav.
Excited? Plan your next trip to the Northeast with Greener Pastures!