Tip | Search useful information before visiting India: Responsible tourism, eco tourism and volunteer work

Photo and video recommendation: a voice from rural India worth being heard

Whether you plan a visit or seek to learn more about India’s rural life – perhaps inspired by the Gandhian social movement or Rabindranath Tagore – explore “a living journal, a breathing archive” in the Adivasi category of PARI: the People’s Archive of Rural India initiated by distinguished photo journalist-turned-activist P. Sainath, continually enriched by stories from all over India.

“In less than 200 years, photography has gone from an expensive, complex process to an ordinary part of everyday life. From selfies to satellites, most of the technology we use and spaces we inhabit rely on cameras. […] While photographic documentation can aid in shaping history, it can also be a window into the horrors of the past.” – Read more or listen to Butterfly Effect 9 – The Camera on CBC Radio Spark 26 May 2023 >>

New and “exotic” destinations are being promoted by the tourism industry all over the world. Responsible travellers and volunteers care about the welfare of local people. Some restrictions may prevent tourists from entering sensitive “tribal” areas of India. In other regions, the impact of tourism raises ethical questions. More >>

Too Many People Want to Travel: Tourism has surged in recent decades, causing large-scale environmental degradation, dangerous conditions, and pricing-out locals at major tourist sites.
Atlantic staff writer Annie Lowrey explains over-tourism and what we can do to fix it >>
More about Eco tourism | Tourism | Particularly vulnerable tribal groups >>

Search tips: checking the facts while planning a trip

  1. for different views, key “tribe eco tourism”, “eco tourism tribal”, “tourism benefits local community” and similar word combinations in the custom search window seen below
  2. add a particular state or place name (e.g. Andaman, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan)

For a list of websites included in a single search, see below. To search Indian periodicals, magazines, web portals and other sources safely, click here. To find publishing details for Shodhganga’s PhD search results, click here >>

Try the following in case Google Custom Search window or media contents are invisible here: (1) switch from “Reader” to regular viewing; (2) in browser’s Security settings select “Enable JavaScript”; (3) check Google support for browsers and devices | More >>


List of websites covered by the present Custom search engine

  1. Action for Community Organisation, Rehabilitation and Development (ACCORD) – www.accordweb.in
  2. Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) – www.atree.org
  3. Freedom United – www.freedomunited.org
  4. Government of India (all websites ending on “.gov.in”)
  5. Shodhganga (a reservoir of Indian theses) – https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in
  6. Survival International – www.survivalinternational.org
  7. Unesco – https://en.unesco.org
  8. Unesco digital library – https://unesdoc.unesco.org
  9. Unicef – www.unicef.org
  10. United Nations – www.un.org/en
  11. Video Volunteers – www.videovolunteers.org

Ethical and environmental considerations

Learn more: Bondage | Bonded labour | Childhood | Human trafficking | SlaveryZamindari >>
Human trafficking is a crime. To report in India, call Shakti Vahini
+91-11-42244224, +91-9582909025 or the national helpline Childline on 1098.

“As per a study on human trafficking, the state of Jharkhand has emerged as India’s trafficking hub with thousands of tribal women and girls being trafficked out of the state each year to Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and beyond [while] human traffickers are also involved in many cases of missing children.” – The Wire | Shakti Vahini | Tourism locations | Adivasi tribal bondage slavery trafficking (Safe search) >>

“Childline 1098 is a 24×7 emergency, free phone outreach for children in distress. It is one of the world’s biggest emergency helpline services dedicated to children, and is considered to be among the country’s largest emergency response systems” – The Hindu, 17 April 2022 >>

Whatever the purpose of your visit, be it as a member of a group of tourists, as a delegate or individual traveller, may it contribute to greater respect for local people. This naturally includes those living in precarious conditions for no fault of their own. Only then your visit may prove to be beneficial for any “tribal” community. It may contribute to the local economy, for instance by providing employment and supporting craftspeople; or conversely it may merely benefit “outsiders” (i.e. investors and  their representatives).

Does ecotourism – driven by Western environmentalism, aided by international institutions, and introduced in the South in form of a ‘development package” – amount to a new ‘Green Revolution’?

West Ghats near Kanyakumari in the Tamil Nadu – Kerala border region
Photo courtesy Davidson Sargunam >>

“Ecotourism is highly unscientific, unplanned, unregulated  and free for all, spoiling the ecosystems.” – Environmental Educationist Davidson Sargunam (email 3 May 2020 including photos, to illustrate the impact of tourism including animal health)

Under the pressure to address the problems of conventional tourism, a great number of ‘new tourisms’ were introduced in the 1980s and 90s – ecotourism, sustainable, community-based, fair-traded, responsible and others. […] Evaluations of pro-poor tourism projects that take a holistic and grassroots-oriented approach are very rare.” – Anita Pleumarom in “The Politics of Tourism, Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development” (accessed 3 May 2020)

There is very little evidence that ecotourism in its present form is sustainable […] Tourism is inherently an exploitative industry, both ecologically and socially and we need to accept that.” – Smrity Ramavarapu in “Ecotourism-a yay or a nay for conservation?” | Learn more >>

Whilst eco-tourism attempts to fully integrate indigenous communities into the market-driven economic system, it keeps them as “archaeological”  pieces to stimulate the tourists’ nostalgic desire for the “untouched”, “primitive” and “savage”. Worse, irresponsible eco-tourism promotion features photographs and descriptions of ethnic women, giving credence to the false notions that they are willing and available to be discovered by tourists. Apart from resisting to take-overs of ancestral lands by tourism developers, indigenous peoples organisations and support groups have strongly denounced eco-tourism which has produced “human zoos”, as such practices abuse human dignity and involve socio-economic and cultural disruptions which amount to ethnocide

Source: Ecotourism: A new ‘green revolution’ in the Third World (Third World Network)
URL: https://www.twnside.org.sg/title/eco2.htm
Date Visited: Wed Jul 23 2014 11:33:47 GMT+0200 (CEST)

For up-to-date information by the Third World Network, visit
https://www.twn.my >>
Tip: to find information on India’s tribal communities, search its website (e.g. “India tribal”, “Adivasi”; for specific issues combine your search with search terms lime “ecology”, “biodiversity”, “education”, “Odisha”, “tourism”, “women rights” etc.)

More tourism and wildlife related tips

  • check the Categories “eco tourism” and “tourism” on this website: these are seen on the right side under “Browse more contents by category” in your internet browser (personal computer)
  • on a mobile device (smartphone), search for “eco tourism”, “nature”, “wildlife”, and “tourism”
  • updates are also found under Related posts (see below)

Practical and financial considerations

Keep in mind that restrictions for visitors apply to some of the regions inhabited by tribal communities. While planning your visit to a tribal community, please have a look at the following checklist:

  1. check the website of the Indian Embassy in your country
  2. note that the Government of India defines restricted areas from time to time (e.g. in some of the north-eastern states known as  and Orissa/Odisha)
  3. follow the travel advice for India issued by your government (e.g. the website maintained by the foreign ministry)
  4. India’s tribal schools and welfare organizations are required to follow certain procedures before accepting offers from foreign volunteers
  5. wherever volunteer work is an option, you may also want to make a contribution towards hospitality expenses

Chhattisgarh Tourism to Promote ‘Walk with the Tribe’ Experience
February 11, 2015

Chhattisgarh Tourism Board (CTB) aims to promote the ‘Walk with the Tribe’ experience, whereby visitors can go on a nature walk with the learned and local tribal people who have been living there for years. Talking about the same, Santosh K Misra, Managing Director, CTB, said, “With 80 per cent biodiversity and significant natural abundance, a major focus will be on promoting the ‘Walk with the Tribe’ experience, unexplored tourism circuits, and development of collaboration between the locals and the State Tourism Department. With this, major milestones like job creation in tribal sectors and improved standard of living can be achieved. We also seek to create vistas of awareness for international tourists whom we seek to attract with our engaging packages and specially designed tourism junkets.”

Source: Equitable Tourism Options (EQUATIONS) | Chhattisgarh Tourism to Promote Walk with the Tribe Experience
Address: https://www.equitabletourism.org/newsitem.php?AID=2948
Date Visited: Wed Mar 29 2017 17:26:51 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Related posts

A case study published by Kerala’s tourism authorities (excerpt focusing on the opportunities and pitfalls of tourism)

Tourism is one of the few sectors where Kerala has clear competitive advantages given its diverse geography in a short space ranging from the Western Ghats covered with dense forests to the backwaters to the Arabian sea. […] It thus, plays an important role in driving growth and bringing about economic prosperity. Tourism’s importance to the economy of Kerala also rests in its capacity to help bring about non-economic benefits. For instance, tourism can help in conserving/reviving past traditions; and promoting cultural heritage, cultural performances and festivals, etc. It can also reinforce a positive sense of community identity, which in turn will encourage local communities to maintain their traditions and identity. Further, tourism, particularly ecotourism, can place a greater focus on the conservation of natural resources by ensuring financial or in-kind support by the government, in recognition of their importance to visitor experiences. But, the benefits of tourism are not unequivocal. It is often seasonal and mainly generates part-time and unskilled jobs for local people. Further, if not planned carefully, tourism can be destructive of culture and local traditions. […]

Source: Report “vision2030” by Kerala Government
Address : https://kerala.gov.in/docs/reports/vision2030/11.pdf
Date Visited: Thu Jul 03 2014 20:50:05 GMT+0200 (CEST)
Backup file: Ch. 11 “Tourism” (PDF, 883 KB)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Find publications on these issues by reputed authors including Open Access (free download): Worldcat.org >>


Search for an item in libraries near you:
WorldCat.org >>

Related posts


Tips for using interactive maps

  1. toggle to normal view (from reader view) should the interactive map not be displayed by your tablet, smartphone or pc browser
  2. for details and hyperlinks click on the rectangular button (left on the map’s header)
  3. scroll and click on one of the markers for information of special interest
  4. explore India’s tribal cultural heritage with the help of another interactive map >>