Outlook Traveller asks eminent personalities from Bengal about their favourite Pujo memories
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Access to tourism has progressively expanded over the past few years and the advent of social media has changed the ethics of travel in ways unimaginable. Tourist destinations worldwide received 369 million international tourists in the first four months of 2017 alone, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. It is estimated that tourism will continue to grow at an average of 3.3% annually until 2030. and that is why we thought it would be nice to tell you how you can contribute to making travel more ethical and sustainable. You can plan your holidays in a manner that leaves a lasting impression on you and on the places and people you visit.
Ditch The Tried and The Tasted
Try the local cuisine. One can only marvel at what different combinations of indigenous crops tossed in locally procured herbs and spices can do to make a new destination feel familiar. While you're on a holiday, it might be a good idea to take your taste buds for a ride too. It is worth it.
Find Yourself a Home
There are several community-run and individually-owned homestays that are hosted by local staff and families. Armed with humble means, limited resources and plenty of warmth, such accommodations find innovative and eco-friendly measures to ensure their guests have an authentic homely experience. You can take pride in your reduced carbon footprint on being told that your hot bath early morning was supplied for by solar panels.
Cycle or Stroll
Try not to hop from one prescribed destination to another in a motor vehicle. In that case, you will lose out on the opportunity to see what a day in the life of a denizen looks like. Take a walking tour of the place you're at. Or even better, rent a bicycle. Allow yourself to pause at any given spot. See what they sell at the bazaars; what colour flowers blossom on trees that line their alley-ways; what they decorate their homes with; what their children play with.
Live Like a Local or With One
Get a local talking and be prepared to be stocked with their local legends. Ask them about the folklore they tell their children, the secret ingredient that makes their curry taste distinctly delicious and their hacks to keep their cattle content. In case you're lucky, they might also teach you the beat to a local song on a home-made percussion instrument. There are quite a few villagers who routinely host travellers. You only have to ask nicely.
Hand-Pick The Hand-Made
Nothing resonates socio-cultural heritage of a place more than its handicrafts. Local artisans source materials and motifs from their immediate environment to produce a stunning range of aesthetics. Each can be traced to its region by identifying their technique and depictions. From dhokra jewellery of Madhya Pradesh to worli textile prints from India's east coast, each handloom and handicraft is a locally motivated product. What better to remind you of a land you once visited than its portrayal by a local artisan?
Let The Animals Be
We were meant to co-exist. We have our towns and cities to ourselves so the least we could do is to let them be in whatever that is left of their homes. Let them roam about freely, without interference in their habitat. Take your safaris, but watch them from afar. Interact with them if you sense that they feel like it.
Gift yourself a more fulfilling holiday, a lasting experience.
Be a traveller, not a tourist.
Follow www.responsibletourismindia.com for stories about ethical travel
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