With 1.5 billion people estimated to be travelling every year by 2020, it’s becoming increasingly important to consider our personal contribution to sustaining the natural and cultural wonders of out planet. We've put together a guide of how to do so in the cultural hotspot of India.

Wildlife Tourism

India is home to two-thirds of the world’s tigers, but they are still under serious threat from poaching. Through visiting one of India’s dozens of national parks, including Bandhavgarh National Park, you will be supporting vital conservation efforts.

Take a look at Travel Operators for Tigers, who work with national parks, communities and visitors to advocate responsible tourism practices in wilderness areas. For example, they have developed a rating system that measures the ‘footprint’ of lodges and hotels.

Avoid riding elephants

What appears to be a fun, once-in-a-lifetime experience, actually causes immense trauma and pain to the elephants. Captive elephants are brutally exploited to provide tourists with a ride. Why not try out another exciting activity instead, like white water rafting at Dandeli.

Cultural Sensitivity

It’s hugely important to show respect to India’s cultural and religious beliefs. Ensure you dress modestly; both men and women should keep their legs and shoulders covered, especially when visiting rural villages or religious sites. Also, it’s actually cooler to cover yourself in light cotton because the sun isn’t directly hitting your skin.

Take the time to learn about the local culture, observing the customs and etiquette, and perhaps learning a few phrases in the language to talk to local people.

Giving Gifts to Children

If you want to donate items while in India, it may be better to give them to the school to distribute, rather than to the children directly. Although handing out pens and pencils is done with good intentions, it can actually drive children to skip school and hang out in areas visited by tourists because they know they’ll get gifts.

Dan Green Photography

Consider donating money to a charity or registered NGO instead, for example the Govardgan Eco-village has been recognised by the UN for promoting sustainable tourism.

Shopping

Support the local economy and buy authentic handmade products from markets, villages and small-scale souvenir shops. Spending your money on silk, wood carvings, pottery and silver jewellery from local artisans will help support the fragile economy and keep the traditional crafts alive. It also offers a great opportunity for you to gain an insight into the local way of life!

 

Here at SAFE, our ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign is raising money to build a community education centre for the displaced Dalit community in Mugaiyur, Southern India. To donate or find out more about our charity work overseas and in the UK, visit our website.

https://www.thesafefoundation.co.uk/appeal/buy-a-brick-campaign