One of the most pressing issues being discussed globally regarding a post-COVID-19 scenario is the need to repurpose the hospitality industry towards more localised, resilient and sustainable frameworks. Sustainability is increasingly becoming a pressing issue for the hospitality business due to fear of food shortages caused by pandemics like this recent one, and extreme weather events (which are on the rise). Across the world, several boutique hotels and eco stays are aiming to stay authentic and connected with place, and provide guests with rich, local experiences. And by sourcing locally, several properties are able to support local cottage industries, farmers and communities. We are launching a three-part series where we speak to owners and managers of several such properties to see how they are planning the post-COVID-19 future.
Upasana Prakash, Lodge at Wah, Palampur
The Lodge at Wah has always strived to serve farm-to-table meals using estate-grown organic produce. In the future, one of the things we plan to expand on is our collaboration with small-scale individual suppliers for our produce. This translates into tie-ups to grow even more organic produce, which we will purchase directly from them. While milk and honey is already purchased from local sources, we want to expand the product list further to include spices, grains and even pulses. In this way, we will further reduce our carbon footprint, and be able to obtain high-quality produce by uplifting small farmers and supplies in the community.
We also plan to further promote the local arts by inviting artists to The Lodge and showcasing their talents and Kangra culture. Kangra paintings are well known for their miniature style of art, and we would like to invite the artist to display their works to guests. We have already identified folk singers and a cultural dance troupe, as well as a couple of artists to advance this goal post-COVID.
Marcus Cotton, Managing Director, Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, Pokhara
Tiger Mountain’s main planning for post-COVID-19 reopening is to ensure that both our staff (some 50% of whom are from the community) and the wider community in general are happy and confident for us to re-open. This will include inter alia any requests for changes in our operating style, especially in respect of interactions on village walks, etc. In the longer term, we foresee that this epidemic has, within the constraints of social distancing, probably forged a closer understanding and empathy with regard to the role of tourism businesses within the mainly agrarian community of the various settlements around the lodge. Our strong community support partnership programme is already fully community-based and led to ensure ownership and focus remains where it should be—in the community, not with the ‘donor’ business. We will continue this model focussing on how we can support and add value to the community’s aspirations.
Amit Sankhala, Owner, Jamtara Wilderness Camp, Pench
The biggest thing for any hotel to do is to keep everyone from the community employed throughout without any firing. We will do a lot more work in the coming months as the rest of my year will be focussed on grants. I, the Trustee of Tiger Trust, will be doing various philanthropy projects throughout MP. We are applying for various grants in the next weeks, as the funding towards environmental projects is growing. We will most probably partner with Last Wilderness Foundation for the Pardhi and the Mongiya communities, legal training workshops of guards in some parks, etc.