Did you know that Sodha Travel is a member of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), the largest and oldest ecotourism organization in the world? Through the years, Sodha Travel has maintained a commitment to sustainable business practices. This not only applies to the administrative elements of our company but also through Responsible Tourism: leaving the destination a better place than when you found it. Our team continues to seek new ways of incorporating sustainability and conservation in the travel industry.
In celebration of Earth Week, Sodha Travel is offering a $200 credit toward any custom package in Kerala. Kerala is considered the heart of eco and sustainable tourism in India, and the diverse landscape includes palm-fringed beaches, hill stations, tea plantations, backwater canals, and wildlife sanctuaries. Select our popular Sublime Kerala itinerary or customize a private Kerala tour. This special was originally valid on reservations made by April 26th, but due to demand, we have extended the credit until April 30th!
Last October, I had the privilege to be a panelist at the Environmental Symposium at Lewis and Clark College. The symposium was about ecotourism in South Asia and its impact on tourists and locals, as pertaining to the economy and environment. My fellow panelists also discussed the impact and authenticity of sustainable tourism in other regions of South Asia. If you are interested in learning more, check out the video here:
Remember, the $200 credit is only valid until April 30th, so contact a Sodha Travel Destination Specialist to plan your Kerala tour!
As India continues to be ranked one of the most favorable travel destinations worldwide, hotel chains are busy developing newer and more creative accommodations. Looking ahead, 2011 is going to be one of the most exciting years for unique properties, catering to both budget and luxury travelers. Here are a few of my most anticipated additions to the Indian market:
Rasa, Jaipur: Opening in March, the Rasa seamlessly blends modernity, luxury, and ecotourism. There will be forty tents with glass-wall facades and a private outdoor pavilion. Located adjacent to the 16th century Amer Fort, the futuristic Rasa also serves organic produce grown on site. The nearby nature sanctuary offers hiking and bird watching, all within close proximity to Rajasthan’s capital and Pink City, Jaipur.
Radisson Hotel, Haridwar: As much as I love Haridwar, a holy city on the Ganges River, there are very limited first-class accommodations that cater to the more discerning traveler. The Radisson will have 16 suites and 113 rooms with a variety of upscale facilities, including an all-day dining restaurant, specialty restaurant, bar, club lounge and tea lounge.
Park Plaza and Park Inn, Delhi: It is hard to believe that Delhi, India’s capital and one of the three cities on the Golden Triangle tourism circuit, has a limited number of reasonably priced moderate hotels in favorable parts of the city. But for this reason, I am very pleased to see three new properties opening in Delhi: Park Plaza New Delhi Dwarka, Park Plaza New Delhi Nari Nagar, and Park Inn Delhi CBD Shahdara. Park Plaza is an upper mid-scale brand that offers modern design in a comfortable atmosphere, while Park Inn is the slightly less upgraded counterpart. Both are highly recommended by travelers, and one of my clients calls their breakfast buffets “the best in India.”
Banasura Hill Resort, Wayanad: Though Banasura is already operational, I encourage travelers to experience this ecoresort before the popularity detracts from its charm. Banasura is located in the misty hills of Wayanad in the Malabar region of Kerala. It is also Asia’s largest “Earth Resort” and awarded the Greenest Destination in the Nilgiris Biosphere. The main resort is built entirely from mud, and the villas are constructed from rough hewn stone. Very impressive, considering the luxurious finishes and spacious rooms – not to mention a mud structure in an area known for heavy rainfall.
Viewing wildlife in its natural habitat is truly exhilarating. Imagine a sunrise safari in an open-air Jeep, searching the terrain for a glimpse of the rare Bengal Tiger. Or, why not explore the dense forests while riding on the back of an elephant?
In our Jungle Book tour, enjoy a spectacular adventure through India’s National Parks: Jungle cats in Ranthambore, Sambar in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Bengal Tigers in Bandhavgarh, and Leopard in Kanha. Kanha National Park is also the popular landscape depicted in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. By car, jeep or elephant, discover the diversity of India’s Northern wildlife. Be sure to bring your camera!
Reserve this tour in the month of November and receive $300 off per couple! Please contact us for additional details.
Sodha Travel is proud to be a member of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). TIES unites conservation and communities through sustainable travel, and their mission is to “promote responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” We encourage you to learn more about their organization – the largest and oldest ecotourism organization in the world. We also invite you to discover ways to incorporate sustainability and conservation in your own travel itinerary.
In 2010, the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) will be held in our own city of Portland, Oregon. We look forward to attending the conference and learning more about “greening” the tourism industry.
I just finished reading a wonderful book by Amitabh Kant titled Branding India: An Incredible Story. Although the publication is currently unavailable in the United States market, I was fortunate to have a friend send it from India. The book explores how India developed and expanded its tourism platform after 2002, including the launch of the Incredible !ndia campaign. As Kant states, “How do you bring a magnificently diverse country – with twenty-eight states, seven union territories, eighteen official languages, and 1.2 billion people – under one brand?” Quite an accomplishment.
One of the topics Kant discusses is the promotion of Responsible Tourism: people who believe in leaving the destination a better place than when they found it. Kant writes, “Responsible Tourism will contribute by maintaining both the natural and cultural heritage of the destination, conserving the living culture of the people and attracting the right kind of visitor.” Many travelers in the United States also brand this type of travel Eco-tourism, although the technical definition of Eco-tourism is environmental and not cultural preservation. With a growing interest in green/sustainable energy, many are also requesting tours that incorporate these same elements in their travel package.
Intention and action are very important components of Responsible Tourism. However, I also believe it is the information we share upon returning home after our travel experiences. Not liking particular components of a destination, ie hotels, weather, crowds, etc, should not be expressed as disrespect for cultural practices. We all have our preferences and enjoy different activities. Some prefer luxury accommodations and scheduled touring while others prefer modest accommodations with a leisurely itinerary. However, there are times when people return home from a trip, not just to the Indian sub-continent, and talk condescendingly about a particular culture. I feel it is our responsibility as international travelers – or global participants, as I like to call it – to try and see the beauty in traditions, even if they are a complete reversal from our own. I personally find that 99% of the time, there is a deeper meaning as to why people did not like the country. It had nothing to do with the cultural aspects, but was instead something else. In the end, let us try and appreciate the diversity itself without judging the why or how. And, most importantly, let us responsibly communicate these opinions from a place of consideration.
If you are interested in packages that promote Responsible Tourism, please let us know!