A tourism and hospitality project that engages the local community is a big piece in sustainable and inclusive travel. While for many of us visiting rural areas, forest reserves or communities in the fringe of urban centres is a break away from our routines, for the community it is their day to day living. Planned well with community as a centre of the travel experience, engaging the community can be a win-win. While for a traveller or a hotel owner you will be seeing the destination through the eyes of a local, this can mean economic benefits and job creation that mitigates urban migrations.
Many of the hotels in RARE tell stories of the local people who were involved in building the hotel who then stayed on to be a part of the operations team at the resort or lodge. Many of our hotels employ anywhere between 60-70% of their staff from the local community and empower then with the requisite skills. Teaching and helping local boys and young women learn hospitality skills for service, housekeeping, guiding on village walks and nature walks helps the local economy. Another intriguing aspect how local every day skills contribute to the character of the hotel project is women from the village helping out in the kitchen, or helping in plastering the floors in the typical smooth mud coating with their palms and decorating open spaces with floor art, décor during festivals, etc. are small nuances that work both ways in establishing a very local and inclusive character to the experience and providing jobs and empowering the community with skills.
Buying locally from farmers, craft centres and using local skilled workers like tailors, carpenters, gardeners, potters and masons in setting up and operating hotels in rural areas helps in creating jobs and in keeping the population from migrating to cities and towns.
Community engagement is complete without being backed by fair wages and supporting the team with retirement benefits, short term loans, education of the children, medical facilites etc. In a well-run enterprise that recognises the role communities can play in establishing the character of the hotel, the owner-hosts and their families literally play the role no less than a benevolent corporate institution.