Village Ways shows how sustainable tourism can bring new life and optimism to remote communities threatened by a lack of economic opportunity and the migration of young villagers. It all came about through the conversations of hotelier Himanshu Pande with rural development friends about concerns for the future of the local Himalayan communities. An India-based enterprise was set up around a team formed of development and rural tourism specialists including Richard Hearn, the founder of Inntravel, with whom we are delighted to be working.
The first areas to benefit from Village Ways’ help were the Binsar
Wildlife Sanctuary and Saryu Valley
in 2007. The financial support and tourism expertise they received enabled villagers to build and manage authentic guesthouses in the heart of their communities. Some were trained in the skills of housekeeping and hospitality, and as English-speaking guides who share their knowledge and passion for their community and introduce visitors to the people they meet during their stay.
Village Ways then went on to help communities in other parts of India, namely the deserts of Rajasthan
, the spice hills of Hulgol in Karnataka
and the backwaters of Kerala
. Again, they are working with remote villages and using local knowledge and skills to create sustainable enterprises which provide social, economic and environmental benefits where they are needed most, and which promote cultural understanding by encouraging guests to participate in daily village life.
Most recently, in 2013, Village Ways teamed up with the Sailung
region of Nepal, in the hope of halting the flow of local people heading abroad in search of work.