IRTA 2020

The Winners


Overall Winner - Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Project

The judges were impressed by the scope and scale of the Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Project, and its deep investment in the local community at the basti. The project is a great example of how responsible tourism can indeed create better places to visit and better places to live in.

Judge’s Choice Award - K Rupeshkumar, State Coordinator, Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission

K Rupeshkumar has played a prominent role in developing Kerala as one of the leading Responsible Tourism Destinations in the world. He was an active participant in the mass movements against the unscientific and unethical development of Tourism in Kerala, especially in Kumarakom. He was also a part of the mass movement that demanded alternative tourism activities in Kumarakom become a part of the Kerala Responsible Tourism movement from 2007. Rupesh is currently the State Responsible Tourism Mission Coordinator of Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission.


GOLD: Takam Nabum, Chairman of the Ghora-Aabhe Society in Arunachal Pradesh

Takam Nabum leads the conservation efforts as the chairman of the Ghora-Aabhe Society in Arunachal Pradesh, which works around Pakke Tiger Reserve and leads the Nyishi community to be the forest’s guardians. Under the Society’s stewardship, led byTakam Nabum, the Nyishi community has taken the first concrete steps towards establishing and effectively enforcing fines and hunting regulations in the Reserve Forests adjoining Pakke.

GOLD: Jibi Pulu, Conservationist in Mishmi, Arunachal Pradesh

Jibi Pulu runs Mishmi Hill Camp an eco-birding camp in the Roing region and also runs the Mishmi Hills Conservation and Protection of Endangered Wildlife. Jibi is passionate about educating people on the adverse effects of dams on the Dibang river. He has also been working for many years in the area of animal protection and conservation, in a region and community where hunting has been the way of life for centuries. Over the years he has helped the community embrace conservation using the tool of eco-tourism.

SILVER: Paras Loomba, Founder, Global Himalayan Expeditions

An electrical engineer by profession, Paras has merged technology and tourism to create local entrepreneurial models for remote areas advocating sustainable tourism solutions. He came up with the idea of Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE), which is an organisation that brings micro-grid based solar-powered light to some of the remotest villages of Ladakh, promoting ‘impact’ tourism. GHE has influenced more than 41,000 lives with almost no carbon footprint. GHE has so far electrified over 100 villages.


GOLD: Koh Hee, Mayabunder, Andaman & Nicobar Islands

A native Karen family home built in 1948, Koh Hee offers an immersive experience into Andamani and Karen life. John and his wife Doris have established a strong connection between the landscape and communities and are working to strengthen them. The judges also recognised their efforts to encourage others in the community to register homestays, without expanding their own.

SILVER: Tanhau Homestay

The judges wanted to recognise that not only has Tanhau made sustainability and support to the local community a priority, and invested in the landscape through conservation and constant rewilding, it has also encouraged others in the area to adopt similar practices and change the narrative of tourism at Jim Corbett National Park.

Ones to watch: Eshab Homestay and Ecoharryman’s Homestay


GOLD: No Footprints

The judges found it interesting that in a dense metropolis like Mumbai, No Footprints found and focused on very small, unusual, interesting cultural and social issues, and encouraged inclusivity. The judges were particularly impressed by their Queer Day Out tour, with the Queer community curating and leading the tour ensuring its authenticity.

SILVER: BuDa Folklore

Buda Folklore has a strong focus on Karnataka. Backed by over 40 years of field research, BuDa’s folklore tours explore folk living and its relevance in the modern world. The judges also appreciated the facilitation of interactions between urban travellers and the indigenous communities in unique ways, like playing kabaddi in the monsoon-washed mud together. They are also developing local crafts and empowering the community, with local artisans facilitating their tours.

Ones to Watch: Holidays in Rural India and NotonMap.


GOLD: Glenburn Tea Estate & Boutique Hotel

Planted on a hill across the river Rungeet with the Kanchenjunga watching over it, the organic tea estate and colonial bungalows at Glenburn celebrate history and local splendour. The judges were impressed by their commitment to support and empower the local community. They support three government primary schools, and a scholarship programme that has 50 estate children enrolled in private schools in the region.

SILVER: Neeleshwar Hermitage

A secluded retreat in a relatively underexplored region of North Kerala, Neeleshwar Hermitage combines luxury and responsibility in the best possible ways — many of which are entirely replicable. It has used natural and local materials and the services of the local craftspeople in its construction. Also, over 90% of the workers are locals and the hotel has ensured full insurance for all their workers, including day labourers.


GOLD: Shivya Nath

Shivya is one of India’s best-known travel writers today, and with good reason. The judges felt that her writing is personal, practical and emotive without being sentimental. Her connection with a wide audience and her insistence on travelling and living sustainably, while telling the stories of communities in some of the remotest parts of the country, sets her apart from the rest.

SILVER: Anshul Kumar Akhoury

The judges felt that Anshul Akhoury’s greatest strength as a communicator was that he “says it as it is – and doesn't hold back on writing about the negative aspects of a destination”. His candour and persistence only add to the impact of his writing on responsible tourism.

One to watch: Dominika Haragrova


GOLD: Mud on Boots Project by The Sanctuary Nature Foundation

The main objective of this innovative Mud on Boots Project, which is run by The Sanctuary Nature Foundation, is to fund and empower grassroots-level wildlife conservationists in India. They are currently supporting Project Leaders, working in a diversity of landscape and on different conservation issues in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Chattisgarh.

SILVER: Preserving What’s Precious Project by the Corbett Foundation

The judges felt that the Preserving What’s Precious Project by the Corbett Foundation is a holistic approach to tiger conservation in a vital but remote 2,000 sq km tiger corridor connecting Bandhavgarh and Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserves in Madhya Pradesh.

One to watch: Devalsari Environment Protection and Technology Development Society


GOLD: Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Project

The judges were impressed by the scope and scale of the Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Project, and its deep investment in the local community at the basti. The project is a great example of how responsible tourism can indeed create better places to visit and better places to live in.

SILVER: Himalayan Farmstays

Not only do the Himalayan Farmstays offer an opportunity to experience the rural Ladakhi way of life, it has also been working with its sister organisations like HIAL to create sustainability solutions for resources like water and energy for the region at large.

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Disclaimer:We have tried to ensure the operators listed here are responsible towards local communities and the environment. We, however, urge travellers to do additional checks when choosing an experience/accommodation.