This article was published by our friends at The International Ecotourism Society, who have agreed to its republication here. View the original article on their Your Travel Choice blog.
In the beautiful region of Wayanad in Kerala, India, where dense jungle carpets the rolling mountains in the Western Ghats, lies a magical hidden gem. The quiet village of Thrikkaipetta in the heart of this breathtaking region is a beacon for community spirit and an inspiration for ethical tourism.
Rural Wayanad’s delightful climate and rich biodiversity make it a vastly agricultural population (almost 50 percent of the inhabitants rely on farming for income). Like many places across the globe, farming here has been hit by financial strain due to declining market prices for crops. This problem has resulted in devastating problems for the Wayanad farming community, and very sadly resulted in suicides.
The community here, proud of their land and culture, have created a cooperative that generates additional income for farmers, empowers local people through job creation and provides ethical tourism opportunities.
Thrikkaipetta’s Bamboo Village was initiated by local people who are passionate about improving life for the community. It is a community-led bamboo nursery, using the resultant materials to create traditional crafts, food products, for environmental protection and as a tourism attraction. Visiting their bamboo workshop is like stepping into Santa’s grotto! It is incredible to see so many local people employed, busy creating a huge selection of products.
As the Bamboo Village has gone from strength to strength, it became clear that the tourism offer here could be expanded and provide an even greater opportunity for additional income. Local responsible tourism campaigning NGO, Kabani, has partnered with the Bamboo Village’s management, Uravu, and the groups pulled together their expertise on agricultural life and how best develop a tourist infrastructure that would offer enriching tourist experiences and improve the lives of local people.
Today tourists from across the globe can come and enjoy the Bamboo Village’s ethical homestays. Visitors can enjoy a tranquil location with a friendly local family, feast on traditional home cooked food and fruits from their homestay’s plantation. Guests can also join an eye-opening village tour, learning about the diverse crops growing locally and participating in cultural exchange events.
In addition to the unique learning experiences, guests can rest assured that 50 percent of the money paid for their cozy homestay is being reinvested into the community they have enjoyed getting to know. This money is helping to develop a community fund that provides crucial training for villagers (such as organic farming and healthy living education), youth projects and sustainable tourism development.
Blair Coburn from the UK recently stayed with a family in the Bamboo Village. “The opportunity to stay with a local family was a privilege. It was fantastic to know that my stay not only helped my wonderful hosts, but was helping to support the wider community through their training and development fund. I particularly enjoyed getting to shop for unique bamboo products, they made wonderful gifts to take home, and at the same time buying them has directly helped the women who made them.”