Travel Country Roads

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Travel Country Roads provides highly authentic and experiential tours of northeast India, a biodiversity hotspot and a region with one of the highest tribal populations. It was set up in 2013 as a partnership firm by Sunita Koch, a native of the region and Partha Datta, a wildlife enthusiast and expert on Northeast India. The tours are well researched and are a result of the promoters’ own educating travel experiences of the region. The tours range from jungle safaris in Kaziranga National Park, treks on living root bridges in Meghalaya, visit to the last of the headhunting tribes of Nagaland, tea garden stays, home stays in eastern Himalayan tribal villages, staying in stilt huts in Majuli, world’s largest river island and to the remotest corners of the region. We have enhanced access to experts and work with conservationists, wildlife experts and experienced and trained local guides.
Member since: 21 Oct 2014

How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...

Economic responsibility

Travel Country Roads is a local tour operator in north east India, a region consisting of seven states viz., Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. It is one of the remotest regions largely unknown to the outside world with tourist access to some of the states being granted only a couple of years back.

The region is characterised by poverty rates well above the India national average, by insurgency and counterinsurgency action, exceptional laws and constitutional provisions, and often-opaque governance structures. The figures for economic progression and industrialisation show a dismal figure. And any attempt at industrialisation of the region would mean exploiting the natural resources and contradict the efforts at conserving the ecology and environment of the region. Proper campaigning of the region's wide variety of physical and cultural products can bring a dramatic change to the present socio-economic situation of the region by generating income to the local people and creating employment. Tourism, thus, can act as a major catalyst for development in this region by focusing on the need for adoption of a sustainable tourism development strategy.

At Travel Country Roads we endeavour to bring in a positive economic impact in the region by doing the following:

Employment: We employ local specialist guides. This ensures knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff, thorough guiding and support of local communities as well as an up and close experience of the culture and people. This way we ascertain that the money goes directly into the local economy. The contribution of our local guides in the tours is invaluable as it allows guests to gain greater insight into the local customs and traditions through their contact with the locals.

Our guides work in good working conditions and we keep in mind the number of hours they work and are paid fairly. Accommodation: We emphasise on staying in eco- friendly houses and home stays as much as possible to minimise the burden of tourism. Our accommodation arrangements include homestays in the interior villages of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Assam, guest houses and lodges run by the local people and family run hotels. This ensures that our guests get to experience life the local way and the local people benefit economically and culturally from the social exchange.

Food: We encourage our guests to try the local cuisine which is simple, hygienic and prepared from locally procured produce.

We encourage our guests to buy directly from craftsmen and artisan rather than from big stores to ensure that the maximum benefit goes to them and thereby promote local arts and crafts.

Environmental responsibility

The North-East is the land of green belt of India, of forests and tribal people. The entire north-east region is rich in its natural resources-oil, natural gas, minerals and most importantly valuable forests. The world's largest river island 'Majuli' is situated in the heart of the river Brahmaputra here. The Kaziranga national park in the Jorhat district of Assam is the home for the world famous one-homed rhinoceros. The place of highest rainfall in the world "Mawsynram" is situated in Meghalaya. Though the North-East is an industrially backward region, the existing industries, deforestation and flood are causing serious problem to the environment in the region.

In spite of the existence of several forest laws and regulation the forest cover of the region is fast depleting to logging, deforestation and plundering by the insurgents. Flood causes severe damage to ecology, environment and hundreds of wildlife including the one horned rhinos perish in the annual floods in the region. The river island 'Majuli' is losing several hectares of land to Brahmaputra every year, thus the very existence of the island is under threat.

As a tour and travel organisation we realise that rampant tourism can also be a burden on the environment. We therefore, strive to reduce any negative impact to the best possible extant.

Transport: We use small vehicles accommodating 4-5 passengers in a trip. We use our own cars or hired cars that conform to emission standards and are regularly checked both for carbon emissions.

In places where there is scarcity of water and energy, we inform our travellers about the limited use of these resources.

For our wildlife tours we have wildlife experts, who are themselves involved in conservation efforts. Hence, while our clients' visit to the wildlife parks bring a positive economic benefit by way of entrance fees paid, our guides adhere to a number of strict guidelines not to in anyway disturb the delicate natural environments with safety of the clients being paramount.

We have a tie up with a local NGO called Manas Ever Welfare Society (MEWS) for our wildlife tours in Manas National Park. MEWS has been involved in wildlife conservation and various other programs engaging the local villages and communities. They have cottages and lodges in Manas National Park, home of the one horned rhino and also conduct jeep and elephant safaris. It may also be mentioned that this NGO consists of members who were poachers and extremists are now reformed and are involved in the conservation of the area and they have been doing a fantastic job.

Further, we also promote tours to lesser known destinations like Dibru Saikhowa National Park, Balpakram National Park, etc., where the local youths are involved in conservation efforts.

We are a paperless organisation- Our clients can do an online booking and need not carry any paper document. For information about our tours, the same is e- mailed to our clients and our in-office communication happens through e-mail.

Social responsibility

wide land passage and shares a border area of over 2000 km with neighbouring countries Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The region is known to be one of the ethnically and linguistically most diverse regions of South Asia- with each of the states having its distinct cultures and traditions. Since time immemorial, the region has been the assembly point of myriad communities, faiths and cultures. It is home to more than 220 different tribes speaking a wide range of languages.

North east India is a biodiversity hotspot with a rich tribal culture and heritage with over 200 different languages spoken. It is home to some of the indigenous tribal communities belonging to the Austro- Asiatic linguistic family. Various tribal communities of the region have very distinct culture and traditions which they follow strictly.

Our efforts are directed at developing positive attitudes between the tourists and the hosts by learning about the cultures and traditions of each other, reducing negative perceptions and stereotypes, developing pride, appreciation, understanding and respect and tolerance for each other's culture. The locals are educated about what to expect with the arrival of tourists, while taking care that it is not at all intrusive and only where the locals agree to participate. Likewise, tourists are briefed about the people and local cultures and traditions. This in a way also helps preserve the local traditions and handicrafts, which would over a period of time be extinct.

Through our website we have attempted to provide information about the destinations- state and towns visited in our itineraries, about the people, the different tribes and their customs, weather, precautions to be taken, travel information, etc.

At the time of booking, we send our guests information about the places to be visited in the tour including political situation, religion & culture, people, history, language and food. We provide information about how to reach the place, weather and precautions to be taken when travelling there.

Further, at the start of the tour, our tour guides give a small introduction about the place to visit- about the people, what to expect, general courtesies and there are places that are advisable not to move around without a local guide and we advise them accordingly.

Our tours are designed in a manner that it gives a lot of opportunity for our clients to experience the local way of life in a natural manner with trips to the local markets, villages, families and in return facilitate a sustainable economy. We support local attractions and local craftsmen, weavers and artisan. Our tours include visits to co-operatives and stores run by communities and tribal villagers, from where our guests can purchase souvenirs and the money goes directly to the local people.

We believe that while guests get a chance to experience new cultures and interact with new people when travelling to foreign countries, it is not an opportunity for us to impose our culture upon others. We encourage clients to be sensitive to the host culture through preserving and encouraging cultural and social diversity. We discourage display of traditional or cultural 'shows' for commercial purposes. We conduct tours during the festivals of the various tribes when the guests can get to see the display of the respective cultures and traditions.

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