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

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 >>

Search tips: checking the facts while planning a trip

  1. for different views, key “tribal tourism”, “exotic tribe tourist”, “tribe tourism benefits” and similar word combinations in the custom search window here
  2. add a particular state or place name (e.g. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Mizoram etc.)
  3. do the same here in order to search search select websites

Ethical considerations

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’?

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 Address : http://www.twnside.org.sg/title/eco2.htm Date Visited: Wed Jul 23 2014 11:33:47 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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)

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).

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

* See “Guidelines for regulation of the visit of foreign tourists in Tribal areas” published by the Government of Odisha (Orissa) on www.orissatourism.gov.in >>

** The safety of women tourists travelling alone has been debated by India’s Parliament and the press; for details, type “woman tourist”, “women tourism” and similar keyword combinations in the custom search field found here >>

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: http://www.equitabletourism.org/newsitem.php?AID=2948
Date Visited: Wed Mar 29 2017 17:26:51 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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. Such criticism can be characterised by the billiard ball model. […]

Source: 11.pdf Address : http://kerala.gov.in/docs/reports/vision2030/11.pdf Date Visited: Thu Jul 03 2014 20:50:05 GMT+0200 (CEST) [Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

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