Pioneering Responsible Tourism in Odisha
Grass Routes shares an innate responsibility toward our planet and its people. This is nurtured through our responsible tourism practises aimed at respecting local people, places and their diverse cultures. All Grass Routes journeys contribute to Odisha's natural and cultural heritage in the following ways:
ENVIORNMENT – its easy being green!
We include local transport wherever possible to minimize the need for extra vehicles on our roads and waterways. We’re even selective about the type of local transport – we’d prefer a manual pole boat over a mechanised boat any day!
For short distances we use bicycles. We like to avoid main roads where possible and take the less travelled country roads through paddy fields and villages.
We pick up rubbish we find enroute in Bhitarkanika and Simlipal National Parks. We conduct ‘Clean Up the Beach’ initiatives at Chilika Lake. This is done jointly with our travellers.
We maintain safe and appropriate distances when observing wildlife. We do not intrude on the animal’s space or disturb their natural movements. Afterall animal behaviour is best revealed in its natural state!
We discourage purchase of seashell souvenirs.
We encourage a no bird-catching policy in and around Chilika Lake and support reformed poachers seek alternative livelihoods.
We limit printing or brochures & business cards. Our promotion is solely through our website (no copies on CD’s either reducing e-waste).
We provide our travellers with guidelines on appropriate environmental practises during their stay with us.
We provide purified drinking water to eliminate the need for plastic bottles. Travellers are encouraged to bring their own durable water bottles to refill. We also encourage the hotels we use to provide this facility for their guests.
We follow the ancient walking tracks set out by indigenous people centuries ago. Following their footsteps keeps erosion to a minimum.
We use fresh local organic fruit and vegetables for our camp meals and encourage organic farming practises.
We use gas for cooking as it is a cleaner fuel than wood.
We stay close to villages and consult the communities on appropriate bathing spots (downstream from water collection points) and practises. This information is relayed to our travellers.
We ask travellers to use biodegradable soaps, shampoos and insect repellents to keep our rivers and waterways clean. Natural products are locally available and we provide opportunities for travellers to make these purchases; many buy in bulk to take back home!
We dig a sewage pit at camp, burn our paper waste and add biodegradable waste to assist the decomposition process. Our Local Leaders carry a tent peg (which doubles as a makeshift shovel) on our walks.
SOCIAL – its all about respect …
We limit the size of our groups to minimize environmental and social impact.
We provide our travelers with guidelines on local culture and etiquette to help them best adapt to different social environments.
We do not camp IN villages. We camp a respectful distance from the village. We enjoy social time in the villages we stay close to without encroaching on their space or disrupting their daily routine.
We implement a ‘think before you shoot’ camera policy and emphasize the importance of making a connection with your subject first.
Utilizing & Developing Local Skills
We employ Local Leaders to bridge mutual understanding and respect between travellers and local communities.
Where possible we employ local residents in the villages we visit as local guides in addition to the Local Leaders that accompany travelers throughout. We encourage, develop and promote specialized local knowledge and skills.
We provide training and skills to local residents in the villages keen to become local guides.
We support local craftsmen, weavers, dancers, musicians and performance artists to maintain their traditional cultures. We give special importance to revitalizing traditional folk art forms that have been neglected and in danger of slipping into oblivion.
We support reformed poachers seek alternative livelihoods.
We provide our Local Leaders with Eco Tourism, Hospitality, Environment Management and Leadership training. We also provide them with information on Eco Tourism, Environmental and Sustainability issues.
Local Leaders are provided with First Aid training.
Community Partnership & Participation
We invest a lot of time building relationships with communities. Every journey provides us an opportunity to build friendships, create awareness and generate mutual respect and understanding.
We invest in capacity building among Local Leaders, guides, drivers, boatmen and village representatives. We all meet regularly before, during and throughout the season to provide platforms for discussion and encourage active participation, input and ideas.
The projects we support are not tourist initiatives, but use tourism for funding, support and community interaction.
ECONOMIC - Sustainable Livelihoods
We source service and products locally retaining revenues in our communities.
We employ locals only. A passionate Local Leader accompanies all our journeys.
We source services locally; we employ local resident guides, taxi drivers, park rangers, chefs and oarsmen.
We encourage alternate sources of income (such as trekking guides, assistants, oarsmen and park rangers) to wildlife smugglers and poachers.
We choose small-scale locally owned and managed hotels and restaurants.
We source products locally in markets. Fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood, herbs and spices are all bought direct from the cultivators themselves. Natural soaps and shampoos, oils and insect repellents are purchased from local vendors.
We provide a supplementary income for the local communities who live on the fringe of mainstream society. This includes local indigenous communities, fishing communities, craftsmen and women and artisans.
10% of our annual profit is benchmarked for sustainable development within our communities. We maintain lasting relationships with the projects we support and are always looking for new initiatives.
Grass Routes | Orissa Tour | Tribal Tour | Puri | Responsible Travel | Sustainable Travel