When Entrepreneurship is All About Development In 8 years, they have have achieved a current turnover of over Rs. 5 crores/month.

By Baishali Mukherjee

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Entrepreneurship is often known to be a powerful tool in creating jobs. But the definition of entrepreneurship gets an extra edge and dimension when it gives rise to more and more entrepreneurs in what can be called a domino effect. Doing exactly this for last 26 years is Kolkata based, Asit Biswas, the owner of Help Tourism, a tour operator and destination management consultant specialising in East - and North East India.

Building community led enterprise

Help Tourism regularly conducts campaigns for sustainable development at local levels and encourages activities that confirm community development through tourism entrepreneurships.

"Linking Protected Areas and World Heritage Sites with people's livelihood by giving them ownership through tourism is a first step towards meaningful and sustainable conservation. Since 1991, we have supported various communities in the region in creating and establishing quality tourism destinations with a unique local flavor. We provide the local communities with training and consultancy enabling them to build up capacity and safeguard ownership and link them globally. The local communities takes ownerships of the projects and are creators of micro enterprises," shares Biswas.

Presently Help Tourism is working with 30 conservation-and-community based tourism projects in East - and North East India and has partnered with more than hundred community groups. The organization involves local people into community tourism initiatives between the Protected Areas of the East Himalaya and helps them to create extension forests.

Pioneering work in responsible tourism

Help Tourism is a pioneer in responsible tourism and has been operating wildlife holidays camp, expeditions, exploratory tours, birding holidays, safari trips, documentary trips, and custom-made signature trips (mostly for small groups) in some of the most critically important and less-travelled protected areas and heritage sites in the East Himalaya countryside.

"The eastern part of India is blessed in its natural features primarily because of the presence of the Himalayas. We are taking efforts to enter the virgin areas using tourism as a tool that opens the global window in the extremely marginalised locales. The arrival of tourists helps to eradicate the feeling of isolation and poverty, and the appreciation from visitors develops a sense of pride in the local people. The economical benefit and administrative attention brought in by the visitors balance the rich traditions and conservation initiatives by the local communities. The process of balance in resources, initiates peace," explains Biswas.

Biswas narrates the top four innovations brought about in creating community enterprises-

  • From violence to peace through community owned tourism- this has changed community conflict to community cooperation and peace.
  • Reducing forest dependence of the local communities and opening up avenues for nature-based tourism by the locals.
  • Setting up tourism demonstration project and motivate local communities to set up their own tourism business and engage them in protection of forest corridors.

The impact on the development index

Initiatives by Help Tourism have turned declared poachers and terrorists into protectors of nature and social leaders for change towards better. "A radical change is instrumental in the youth force, which now takes pride in conserving their traditions and relate themselves globally, hence the end of isolation. The visit of international travelers attracts the attention of local administration, who tries to bring in development activities for the destinations. It's a holistic and sustainable development," affirms Biswas.

Baishali Mukherjee

Former Freelancer

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