Things Budding Hospitality Professionals Can Learn From Desia’s Crowdfunding Initiative
Posted on 1 October, 2016 by Team Wishberry
In November 2014, Yugabrata Kar took the plunge of developing Desia, an ecotourism camp focused on nature conservation and enhancing the lives of the local tribes. This ‘responsible tourism’ venture of Yugabrata in the picturesque Koraput valley of Odisha was financially supported through a bank loan. Post two years of sustainable operations, the social entrepreneur recently resorted to crowdfunding for financing further development of the camp. His crowdfunding campaign successfully raised INR 3.65 lakhs, majorly funded by the satisfied guests of Desia.
Hailing from the holy city of Puri, a popular tourist destination, Yugabrata was always fascinated with travel. This fascination pushed him to study tourism and hospitality management in spite of acing an engineering diploma course. Even his first professional gig involved regular travel. As a sales engineer in the agriculture division of a reputed company, he was required to travel to many remote villages for selling agricultural pumps. During these visits to the local tribal villages, he noticed a serious issue of the local culture fading away due to poverty and technology.
Explaining this scenario, Yugabrata said “On my visits to these remote areas, I noticed two things - one is the local culture fading away due to the introduction of technology such as mobile phones and televisions in these areas, and the second thing was the locals immersed in poverty due to the fading demand of their traditional source of livelihood. The youth in these communities were reluctant to pursue their ancestral profession and were getting more attracted towards the regular city jobs.”
Opting for Responsible Tourism as a Profession
Witnessing this dying local culture and grievous impact of poverty on the local tribal people encouraged him to quit his job and dedicate his life to enhancing the lives of these people through tourism. Along with Desia, even his other two ventures - tour operating company Heritage Tours and restaurant WILDGRASS are based on the principle of responsible travel and focus on empowering the local tribes. Yugabrata modestly mentions that, “It's my passion for tourism that made me venture out into this field, wherein today I am being able to create employment for more than forty people through my various tourism projects.”
Desia Eco Tourism Camp
Desia Eco Tourism Camp is aimed at motivating the local tribes in the Koraput Valley, especially the youth, to hold on to their ancestral traditions and culture. This purpose is achieved by creating a source of livelihood for them through tourism. Also, the appreciation and respect shown towards the culture by travellers visiting from across the world creates a sense of pride amongst the local people for their traditional way of living. Along with creating direct employment for the operational staff, Desia also functions as a marketplace for these tribes, living below poverty line, to sell their handmade and hand-crafted goods to the tourists.
Crowdfunding Campaign funded by Satisfied Guests
Tourists visiting Desia, get to absorb the beauty and serenity that nature has to offer in Koraput Valley and at the same time experience the rich cultural heritage of various local communities. The satisfaction level of these tourists with this experience can be measured by the overwhelming success of Yugabrata’s crowdfunding campaign on Wishberry to build a travel lounge in the camp. As Yugabrata narrates, “the positive response wasn’t surprising at all. We have managed to build a strong bond with our guests owing to our efforts of offering specialised and best quality travel experiences to them.” This long lasting relation of Yugabrata not only exists with domestic travellers but also internationals guests.” These visitors from outside India ended up contributing 40-50% of the INR 3.65 lakhs.