New Delhi: Kaadumane Homestay, near Joida in Karnataka has romped home as the Best Wildlife Stay, winning the gold under Outlook’s Responsible Tourism Initiative for the Year 2019.
Narasimha Bhat (right) receiving the Outlook Responsible tourism award from Belinda Wright.
The three-acre wilderness “hideaway” attracts deer, gliding frogs, flying squirrels and 65 species of birds. Started in 2007, it is home to 109 species of fruit trees, 19 species of citrus, 46 species of bamboo species and many other medicinal plants. Apart from this, the Forest Eco Foundation has set up a special honey park and a wildlife eco-shop for sale of pure natural products in a bid to provide livelihood opportunities for rural folk and farmers.
This homestay has chosen not to expand, despite the growing demand, and “demonstrated how a small tourism business can create significant conservation and local economic development benefits”.
The India Responsible Tourism Awards are part of the World Travel Market (WTM) World Responsible Tourism Awards, which in addition to the global awards in London and India includes awards programmes in Ireland and Africa. The family of awards share the same processes and criteria and have the same objective -- to protect and preserve the country’s heritage, be it a monument or an art form, an endangered bird or a musical tradition. The selection process is strict and includes on-site inspections, elaborate cross-checks of claims, etc as also checking for sustainable and replicable models, good customer service, responsible tourism ethos and so on.
Belinda Wright, the Director of the Wildlife Protection Society, who is one of the judges on the award selection committee, presented the award to Narasimha Bhat Chapakanda at a ceremony in New Delhi. Kadumane was selected the winner out of a total 200 entries.
“This year's selection process was really challenging," said the chairman of the selection committee and Honorable Professor of the Manchester Metropolitan University, Dr Herald Goodwin.
Wildlife enthusiast, Narasimha Bhat Chhapakhanda and owner of Kadumane, is an entrepreneur who has been involved in wildlife, environment, agriculture and tourism for the last two decades. He has been spreading the message of environment conservation to over 20,000 students and is himself too actively involved in the movement. Using the mode of street plays, he has also been part of Janajagriti campaigns to take conservation to people’s doorsteps.
Kaadumane was also awarded the prestigious National level Karl Joyce Best Wildlife Conservation Award in 2018.