It is common knowledge that entrepreneurship creates jobs in the market. When an individual starts a business, he needs people to help him to take his business forward. However, entrepreneurship takes a whole new meaning when it gives birth to more and more entrepreneurs in the market, much like a domino effect. Kolkata-based Asit Biswas has been doing exactly this during the last 26 years. He is the owner of Help Tourism, a destination management consultant and tour operator specializing in east and north-east India. Help Tourism regularly plans campaigns for sustainable growth at local levels and stimulates activities that lead to community advancement through tourism entrepreneurships.
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Speaking to Entrepreneur India, Asit says that they try to give local communities ownership of projects through tourism by linking protected areas and world heritage sites with people's livelihood. This, according to him, is the first step towards significant and sustainable conservation. Since 1991, his company has supported various communities in the region in developing and setting up quality tourism destinations with a distinct local flavor. Local communities are provided with consultancy and training, which enables them to build up capacity and safeguard ownership and connect them internationally. This way the local communities eventually become creators of microenterprises.
At present, Help Tourism is working with 30 conservation and community-based tourism programmes in east and north-east India, and has collaborated with more than 100 community associations. The locals are recruited by the company and are involved in community tourism initiatives between the protected space of the East Himalayas. The organisation also helps them in creating extension forests.
Help Tourism is a leader in responsible tourism and has been conducting expeditions, wildlife holiday camps, birding holidays, exploratory tours, documentary trips, safari trips, and customised signature trips for small groups in some of the most critical and less frequently travelled protected areas and heritage locations in the East Himalayan countryside.
According to Asit, “The eastern part of India is blessed in its natural features primarily because of the presence of the Himalayas. We are taking efforts to enter the virgin areas using tourism as a tool that opens the global window in the extremely marginalised locales. The arrival of tourists helps to eradicate the feeling of isolation and poverty, and the appreciation from visitors develops a sense of pride in the local people. The economical benefit and administrative attention brought in by the visitors balance the rich traditions and conservation initiatives by the local communities. The process of balance in resources initiates peace.”
Help Tourism's initiatives have converted declared smugglers and terrorists into guardians of nature and social leaders who strive for betterment and change. The youth of east and north-east India who are actively working with Help Tourism take immense pride in preserving their traditions. When international visitors vacation at undeveloped areas, it attracts the attention of the local administration who then try to come up with growth activities for those destinations. This leads to a sustainable and holistic development.