By Vaishnavi Joil
The pandemic had been a rough time for the tourism industry with complete lockdowns and travel restrictions, which left a lot of people from the sector unemployed. The pandemic particularly hit the Tier-II and Tier-III towns that survived on traditional jobs with no options for work from home.
In terms of travellers, the past two-three years of a sedentary lifestyle had made the average traveller much restless, and now, with the lockdown opening up, people are already eager to start travelling. In a lot of people, this has triggered the preference for “Active Holidays” where people are looking for an adrenalin rush, shaking of lethargy, to feel of thrill while they are now planning their outings.
Off-beat travel destinations are landing on the consideration list of the millennials and the Gen Z while they are making their travel itinerary. And with many opting for hybrid work culture, they are even able to pack a holiday destination (with enough Wi-Fi connection) while at work along with the excitement of thrill is an added bonanza. And while the travel bug is getting people to explore new destinations and thrilling experiences, for the locals, it means new opportunities for employment and possibly a career.
There have been several off-beat towns and quaint beaches and hill stations that have seen a sudden rise in travel interest. In India, while Delhi, Goa, and Kashmir, may remain the favourites but it is the not-so-popular locations like Devgad in Konkan, Maharashtra, Mawlynnong in Meghalaya, or Khajjar in Himachal Pradesh, which are finding the takers. These destinations are providing a huge scope for the tourist to have immersive experiences.
Active holidays packed with options for cycling, nature trails, trekking, surfing, scuba diving, zip-lining, bungee jumping, etc., may not be completely wild and adventurous but certainly, those that give one thrill and excitement and a sense of achieving some milestones of physical goals. For example, Devgad in Konkan, Maharashtra today packs fun and thrill with zipline, surfing & water sports along with backwater explorations, mango trails along with the delectable culinary experience that adds value to the idea of a holiday.
From homestays and local eateries offering the best in authentic cuisine, to providing service for guided tours and sightseeing, locals are also gearing up to meet the demands of the tourists. However, adventure tourism, in particular, is offering some serious skill development and employment opportunities for those willing to learn. The best part about these employment opportunities is that they do not require any academic qualifications and can be learnt on the job.
- Volunteers and support staff: Most adventure activities, be it easy or moderate to difficult ones, require a team of support staff and volunteers that ensure all the types of equipment – harnesses, and safety details, are well functioning and secure. This is particularly important for activities like ziplining, bungee jumping, river rafting, etc., where there is a high dependency on the tools and equipment.
- Guides for treks and off-roading: When off-roading or mounting biking/ cycling, there is no one better than the locals to guide the way and ensure a safe and uneventful journey. As guides, they can also enrich the experience of the travellers by introducing them to lesser-known facts and insights about the destination, some unique sights, places to eat, etc., while also ensuring they have a fun adventure on the way.
- Instructors for specialised water sports: One area which is opening up long-term opportunities for locals is that of being instructors for specialised water sports like surfing, scuba diving, etc. India has a long and rich coastline, but such water sports activities are very few. As surfing and scuba diving gain popularity, it is also opening up avenues for local youth to become certified instructors and have a significant careers as instructors.
- Women instructors and safety guides: This is an important avenue as a lot of women are stepping up to take on roles beyond that of handling homestays or local eateries. And it is also working for women tourists seeking adventure experiences as they feel more relaxed with women instructors and volunteers. This is also a great opportunity for women to become self-reliant and financially empowered to not an only ear for themselves but to also add to the family income.
Tourism has always been a huge booster for the local economy and employment. However, adventure tourism in particular is also offering unique skill development opportunities in addition to employment and is becoming a coveted option for youth who would otherwise have to re-locate to bigger cities, taking up menial jobs. And while adventure tourism and active holidays as a concept are catching up in the post-Covid-19 era, a lot of travel entrepreneurs are also paving the way for local upliftment through training and employment, allowing these smaller towns and villages to become self-reliant.
The author is Co-Founder of Flying Konkan Zipline Adventure Sports.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETTravelWorld.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETTravelWorld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.