As travel begins to resume in many places around the world, travellers are dreaming of their next adventure and the meaningful impact they want to have on local community development once it’s safe to travel again. The 2020 Sustainable Travel Report by Booking.com, reveals that travellers want to continue making considerate choices by heading to less-visited destinations and selecting alternative modes of transport to get there. The report suggested that almost 96% of Indian travellers identified sustainable travel as important to them, while 76% said they were more determined to make sustainable choices when looking to travel again in the future. 97% of Indian travellers also mentioned that they planned to stay in eco-accommodation. Furthermore, witnessing the impact that tourism has on the environment while on vacation has resulted in 73% of travellers making more eco-friendly choices in their everyday life. Booking.com shares a list of experiences in India that have been carefully selected from the alumni network of the Booking.com Booster accelerator program. Meghalaya Experience the unseen splendour of Meghalaya with NotOnMap, an Indian start-up that strives to protect and promote the cultural heritage of India. As we live in a hyper-connected world, travelling to Meghalaya will open you up to the realization of thousands of people who still live in uncontacted tribes, completely cut off from modern civilization. Travellers visiting Meghalaya can immerse themselves in local life and experience the authentic culture, food and real hospitality of Meghalaya. NotonMap creates inclusive experiences for travellers where they can engage with the local community as well as to conduct predefined activities and workshops for young and old alike. As one of the winners of the 2019 Booking Booster Accelerator Program, this sustainable tourism startup is a one-stop solution for varied rustic and rare destinations across Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Orissa and Kerala amongst others. Goa Travellers looking forward to ‘eating food with a local, like a local’ when planning their next trip to Goa, can discover hidden local cuisines of the city with Authenticook. Authenticook is a platform for home chefs to hone their knife skills and showcase their culinary expertise, providing a window to their customs, traditions and cuisine that would otherwise not be available to the outside world. Travellers can easily book their seats online and join the adventure of a unique culinary social experience. Founded in 2015, this startup endeavours to transcend all boundaries, providing the best local homemade food, hailing from different parts of the country, prepared with love and passion by local families. This sustainable tourism startup won the 2017 Booking Booster Program and now connects travellers with home chefs hosting cooking lessons, breakfasts, lunches and dinners in Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Jaipur. As they say, it’s all about bringing people together over awesome culinary experience. Jaipur There is nothing more fun and adventurous than travelling by road. With Sakha Consulting Wings, travellers get an incredible opportunity to experience the beautiful city of Jaipur with a woman driver by their side. Run by women, Sakha is a social enterprise providing safe transport solutions for women by women in four Indian cities (Jaipur, Delhi, Kolkata and Indore) and creating well-paid employment opportunities for women as professional taxi drivers and chauffeurs. By booking a drive with Sakha, travellers can not only feel safe but feel empowered to be able to experience a ride alongside these women on wheels. Sakha Consulting was awarded a grant during the 2017 Booking Booster Program, for its responsible development of the trail and the organization’s commitment to protecting and maintaining it, while also connecting with local communities to create job opportunities. Ladakh Travellers wanting to create a meaningful impact as they travel can explore their next expedition with Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE), a sustainable tourism startup that aims to create a fertile environment for collaborations between the participants and the local communities to enable future growth. Through GHE, a 2018 Booking Booster alumnus and grant recipient, travellers can bring solar energy to a remote Himalayan village and end ages of darkness for the village community, creating tangible social and environmental impact. As and when it’s safe to travel again, travellers can sign up for various expeditions and meet highly passionate and driven change-makers who are champions of sustainability and creating a positive impact with their decisions. Since 2013, GHE has been working towards bringing solar energy access to remote mountain communities by taking travellers on Impact Expeditions.
When the time is right to travel again, travellers can plan a trip to these destinations where they can not only learn new skills but also get immersed in local cultures for a more authentic and meaningful experience. Travellers looking to make more sustainable travel decisions in the future, can bucket list these start-ups and explore these destinations when it’s safe to do so.