Responsible tourism is an approach to travel that’s been around for a while now.
Its appeal has been growing — leisurely but steadily — perhaps because of its emphasis on “creating better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit”. A tenet that allows people and destinations the flexibility to choose practices and strategies that suit the local needs and environment.
In India, a motley crew of hotel and travel companies, home stays, NGOs and the odd State tourism board have piloted responsible tourism, with varying levels of commitment and success. At the same time, Indian travellers too seem to be showing a growing interest in ‘ecotourism’ if not responsible tourism.
And now, MakeMyTrip.com, India’s oldest and, arguably, largest travel portal has dipped its toes into responsible tourism with the Responsible Traveler Web site.
Responsible Traveler is positioned as “an extension” of MakeMyTrip’s corporate social responsibility activities. At the same time, it seems that the company also “recognized the need for an ecologically-conscious community of travellers, who love travelling and their planet, equally; and thus the forum Responsible Traveler was born.”
So what is it that Responsible Traveler will offer? The site itself declares: “From the time you start planning your vacation to the moment you step back into your condo; Responsible Traveler makes sure that it gives you the right ideas, tips and advice to help make your travel eco-friendly, with bare minimum impact on the environment.”
For the moment though, the Web site seems a little raw, without a voice of its own; like a work in progress. Actually, I guess it is still a work in progress as it seems to have gone live only a few weeks ago.
However, the possibilities are tremendous. At the very least, Responsible Traveler could become the definitive Indian or South Asian resource on responsible travel. Commercially, the site has the potential to evolve into an online responsible travel company; one that allows travellers to book responsible holidays in India and South Asia.
It would, in fact, be a logical move for Responsible Traveler to become a link between travellers and hotels and home stays that practice responsible tourism. Consumer interest in this space is growing and it currently has just about one player — Travel To Care. With MakeMyTrip’s knowledge and experience of the market, coupled with its marketing muscle, Responsible Traveler has the potential to grow into a game changer for responsible tourism in India and South Asia.