5 Ways You Can Be Vocal for Local in the Travel Industry

The looming terror of a worldwide pandemic, nationwide lockdowns, and crashing economies have pretty much taken over the headlines everywhere. While India is trying to fight a gruesome health threat, the economic slowdown due to the lockdown has inevitably taken its toll on almost every industry we are familiar with. And the travel and tourism sector, amongst a few others, is one of the worst-hit. So, you can imagine that these times have been especially difficult on the States and small towns that majorly rely on tourism, such as Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, and Himachal Pradesh amongst others.

So how do we deal with an appalling crisis such as this one? How do we lessen the crushing weight of bankruptcy on smaller local travel businesses? The answer is simple- by going vocal for local, as our Prime Minister suggested recently. A concept long known before push came to shove, ‘vocal for local’ encourages people to shop from more homegrown brands over international companies to support the national economy.

The mantra can be applied by a traveller as well, by taking care of the little choices they make with each trip. Here are a few small changes you can bring in your future travels to support the local economy and help a family earn a living after a long spell of a financial crisis.

Be a hero for the locals

Be it the small hilly towns up North or the breezy beach ones down South, every place has its own industries flourished by the locals that live there. From shawls of Kashmir to the coffee of Mysore, locally-owned shops best showcase the true identity of any place and contribute a major chunk of revenue in the tourism industry. By buying from local shops, you not only promote them but also purchase authentic products special to that particular place. It’s a clear win-win.

Local vendor shops in the mountains.
Just a warm exchange of smiles on narrow lanes in the mountains as you encounter people with simplest of lives.

Explore your own backyard

I often hear people say, “I’ve finally saved enough money to go backpacking across Europe.” And trust me, I’m all for international travel, but I think it’s more reasonable to explore your homeland before taking up adventures outside, especially under the current times, don’t you think? Dominated with cultural anomalies, India happens to be a cradle of dazzling activities and experiences too. To give you a perspective, bungee jumping in Rishikesh, riding through the phenomenal valley of Spiti, and exploring the treasures of Rajasthan are a few experiences sought not only by Indians but by travellers from across the globe.

Moreover, India has the knack of catering to all kinds of travellers, be it backpackers, luxury seekers, hippies, and so on. The diversity and expanse of our country and the subtropical climate further bless us with a variety of destinations, so take out your maps and start dreaming already!

Local lives are filled with inspiring stories and simplicity.
Local lives have a lot to offer when it comes to sharing experiences. All you have to do is sit back and listen.

Traditional is exceptional

Imagine waking up to the cheerful chirping of birds, followed by a faint sound of a nearby stream. Treat yourself to a delicious home-cooked lunch that introduces you to a culture you never knew, as you witness archaic traditions unfold all around. A completely different side of travel awaits you when you make different choices such as choosing homestays over hotels or eating at local restaurants instead of the giant fast-food chains of other countries.

In fact, our ZostelX homes are curated keeping in mind the authenticity of the overall travel experience they offer. They are homes of locals that are polished to enhance the hospitality they provide you with. With every stay, you end up directly helping a family or two that run it. And in return, you get to be an active part of a local community that will cherish travellers like you for years to come.

Local mountain food prepared by the in-house family.
Amongst the many advantages such homestays have, enjoying a warm homemade breakfast easily tops the list.

Embracing Indian Brands

Every fanatic backpacker, hiker, and traveller out there needs specific gear to go on their supposed adventures. Gear such as a hiking stick to necessities such as a durable backpack or toiletries even, India-based brands are swooping us off our feet with their variety and intention to keep the environment safe simultaneously.

Sports brands such as Cliff Climbers and personal care brands like Khadi and Biotique can come in handy for your travel shopping. Moreover, every region produces something or the other that you can take back. For example, you will find umpteen shops selling locally made hair and skin care products as well as winter wears, jams, and more. Similarly, Rajasthan has local shops selling bohemian clothes to fantastic silver jewellery, Southern states are famous for their spices and dried fruits, and so on. So, keep an eye out for such shops, where, by buying a souvenir or a gift for a friend, you may unknowingly help a family tremendously.

Daily Executions

Not just while travelling, but you can choose to help local businesses in daily life too and the possibilities are endless. Here’s how:

  1. Start off by looking for homegrown brands that need support and try to adjust with your preferences for a while. Help them grow by purchasing their products from apparels and cosmetics to personal care and more.
  2. Choose local vendors and organic farms over repeated runs to big supermarkets for groceries, vegetables, and other everyday usage items. This way, you help a small family survive.
  3. Since online shopping is the need of the hour and recommended too, try to pick from a plethora of Indian websites to shop online from.
  4. There are several NGOs and NPOs simultaneously working on producing masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers. Support such local bodies by purchasing necessities from them.
  5. Lastly, promote local brands on social media as much as you can. If you happen to use or are a fan of one or multiple such brands, give them a shoutout. It genuinely helps them.
Small local shops are the life of India.
Help out local businesses in anyway that you can. Afterall, they're the ones who introduce you to a new city in the best way possible.

Spread the word

Words are powerful. Only when they fly from one mind to another and ye another, can they reach millions and make a difference. If you happen to be/know an avid traveller or a local business that needs help, spread the word. Educate people personally or through social media and be a helping hand. Recommend local brands. Give them ratings. Promote them on various platforms. Go the extra mile. Let us all help each other grow beautifully.

Note: With no intention to diss foreign brands and their presence in Indian markets, I think it’s important to shed light on this topic and help people understand how their individual choices can help an entire community thrive. To be honest, I think it’s needed now more than ever. There is a huge chunk of our society that depends on us to sustain themselves in such catastrophic times. All we can do is consider helping them out by doing our bit, no matter how small our effort is. :)

Zostel’s Travel for Tomorrow

Zostel has constantly worked in collaboration with the local community, and their participation forms a crucial pillar in delivering experiences that we are known for today. All our staff is locally recruited, we collaborate with local businesses for experiences such as adventure companies, cab drivers and guides, and on top of this, our ZostelX Homes support local families in offbeat and small towns by providing them with a direct source of income.

And today, when the entire travel industry is in shambles due to a worldwide pandemic, Zostel hopes to pioneer the way to help local businesses that are most affected by it. With Travel for Tomorrow, we’re welcoming onboard local partners who wish to connect with a loyal community of travellers to help them out. So, if you wish to support us and our partners, do check out our Backpacker Package and Zostel Credits system, where you can avail dorm and even private rooms at never-seen-before rates. With small efforts, we are trying our best to help the industry stand back up on its feet, one good deed at a time. And with this read, we hope you are bracing for it too!

Writer, Kanak Kundlani.