Taking rural tourism closer to the community
Sometimes a sudden inspiration can make a difference in the lives of many.Deipankar Sharma
Germination of an Idea-
It came as a thought out of the blue to Debasish Das, co-founder of one of India’s leading travel portal My Jungle Trip. North Bengal has all the potential to become a tourist hotspot particularly in the realm of rural home-stay facilities. Although inhabited mostly by economically backward families, the place due its authentic rustic setting holds the promise to attract tourists seeking a serene rural ambience.
An avid traveler like Debasish who spent his childhood in Dooars felt that something can definitely be done to empower the local community to achieve economic growth by way of rural tourism. However, he realized that it would not be possible to initiate the process single-handedly.
Leaving his thoughts in the backburner, he reached out to people to get some lead. He was almost on the verge of discarding his vision when he met his long time friends - travel consultant Tamal Goswami and Subimal Bawali, a hospitality and cruise specialist.
It was a sort of get-together for the three of them as they met after quite a long time. After catching up with each other’s wanderings through the years, Debasish propped his idea of providing a fantastic business proposal to the local inhabitants so as to empower them to earn a sustainable living with respect.
It was a simple project. Local community members can rent out any livable space at their disposal to foreign and domestic tourists and earn a sustainable living.
Tamal and Subimal backed Debasish’s idea and the three plunged headlong to take the idea further. It was not an easy task as there were lot of nitty-gritty’s to handle. An extensive survey and sprucing up of available facilities, formulating packages and handling traveler bookings, etc were immediate requirements. Since the local inhabitants with their laid back lifestyle were not attuned to modern travel infrastructure, Debasish decided to do the initial hand-holding through his travel portal.
Rural Home-Stay Gets Underway-
Authentic sources were consulted for necessary inputs. Local community members were sensitized with traveler friendly tips as well as other formalities of the travel and hospitality industry.
Considerable time and effort was spent and now this rural home-stay project is picking up strength. Owners are getting the feel of how any unused space at their disposal can be used to get additional income.
Powering with Technology-
Since use of technology is paramount in the modern tourism industry, a mobile app has been developed to help travelers to book these rural home-stays. Apart from that an online home-stay booking inventory system is also being developed.
Intervening for a Cause-
“The concept around which we started this rural home-stay is simple. We would act as a channel to pass the benefits of rural tourism directly to the local communities. On many occasions, due to lack of awareness and technology, people fail to benefit from rural tourism related schemes launched by respective state governments. That’s where we decided to intervene,” says Debasish Das, co-founder of My Jungle Trip.
“We have passed on our expertise to these people. We are giving regular training on aspects like customer registration, handling travel queries, planning and customizing the itinerary in tandem with preferences and needs,” says travel consultant Tamal.
Hospitality and cruise specialist Subimal adds “Today the vacationer wants a wide range of destination options and unexplored rural destinations can be a terrific option”.
“We are just trying to assist the backward communities by facilitating the promotion of the home-stay so that they will be benefitted in the long run,” says a confident Debasish.