Ayu Tripathi is the Manager of Aahana Resort at Jim Corbett. She talks about her experience on managing the issues related to environment and tourism management. Aahana was awarded “Best Premium Wildlife Lodge of India”. Also, for the last three consecutive years, it has been awarded the “Top 25 resorts in India” by Trip Advisor.
1-Ayu, please introduce yourself to our readers!
I am Ayu Tripathi and I belong to the beautiful lake city of Nainital in Uttrakhand. I did my schooling from St. Mary’s Convent in Nainital and later joined Sri Venkateswara College in Delhi to complete my graduation in Sociology.
Growing up close to nature has made me love nature and all its creations. Currently, I am living my dream. I am working with my father in running our resort called Aahana – The Corbett Wilderness, which both of us are extremely passionate about.
2-How did you come up with the idea of setting up a resort?
I wish it was my idea! My father always dreamt of creating something which married nature and had a positive influence on the socio economic climate of the region – and Aahana was the result of that dream.
3-Over a period of time, the tourist activities near these famous parks and sanctuaries have increased. It has created an adverse impact on ecology and livelihood. What’s your comment on this issue?
I can understand why some people have that point of view, and the solution in my view lies with responsible tourism. Our national parks need be managed with a degree of responsibility and at the same time provide superior hospitality for our guests – both national and international, as that generates revenue for its upkeep. After all the best way to encourage people to appreciate the value of wildlife is to interact with it and a positive ecosystem of nature and supportive infrastructure is the key to economic growth of the region.
In my view, the Corbett authorities are actively discouraging the encroachment inside these parks. Also tourism not only generates the much needed funds to maintain these habitats, but, also in the first place gives people, the reasons to protect wildlife and be compassionate towards it.
4-What is different about your resort, Aahana?
Aahana is one of the only eco-friendly resorts in Corbett which offers luxury with responsibility. The resort has been built on a barren piece of land which today with a lot of hard work, natural soil treatment and indigenous knowledge of the locals has been converted into an extended habitat to local species of flora and fauna. We truly believe in sustainable tourism and have taken a lot of measures to minimize our carbon footprints. Today some of the interesting things that we are doing in the resort are rain water collection, solid waste management, organic farming, we don’t use pesticides inside the resort rather we have grown natural mosquito repellent plants; also we recycle 100% water which we use in the resort through an eco-friendly process.
5-How are you supporting local people with the help of your resort?
Well we are locals too and it’s been a wonderful journey working with our neighbors and others in the village from whom we have got immense support and love from the very inception. We truly believed in indigenous knowledge and we also wanted to give a very authentic experience to our guests. So today, more than 95% of our staff belongs to the region. We buy all our food locally and have often invited local chefs during festivals to cook regional delicacies. We have a nature shop that promotes local handicrafts and art and culture. To engage our guests and connect them with our culture, we often conduct special cultural events which include dance and music. A lot of decorative items and other furniture used in the property has been made by local artisans. . The last five years of respect and love from our neighboring villages (recently the local villagers bestowed us with an award for making a difference in their lives!) and our guests continued patronage have increasingly reaffirmed our beliefs that we are on the right path.
6-You have been providing compensation to the victims of man-animal conflicts. Can you share your experience regarding this?
It’s the local community and their economy which suffers the most from these conflicts. There have been so many instances when we see that elephants attack the fields right before the harvest is ready or a leopard takes away the cattle. In these cases it becomes critical to prevent the locals from retaliating, so I feel it’s very important to link their economy with the forest. Providing compensation is one part of it, but, I strongly believe what works better is to create employment linked with the forest.
When people know that their economy is directly linked with the jungle and its animals they have incentive to protect the animals and also they get an additional source of income. So I see that as a win-win situation.
7-How do you make sure to have a sustainable and holistic approach towards the environment?
The Aahana family believes that responsible luxury is a livable motto and needs to have tangible actions that support its cause. What has further encouraged us is the support we have found from among our employees as it is their home we are talking about (95% of our staff is local).
We have achieved this promise through a combination of nature and technology innovations, none of which are new but none of them have been put into practice in one place at one time.
The construction of the resort has been done keeping in mind the ecological norms and regulations, the rooms have been constructed in a manner that there is plenty of natural light entering during the day. We do not cause any kind of noise pollution. All of electronic gadgets are 5 stars which have minimal environmental impacts.
Also we have employed a lot of other eco-friendly techniques like rain water collection, solar lighting and heating; solid waste management, waste water recycling and others to live up to our goal.
Analysis wishes you best of luck for your future endeavors!
You can reach Ayu at: firstname.lastname@example.org