The advent of community based tourism can be said to have started with the early mountaineers and explorers (who were highly empathetic towards their porters and helping staff, their intrinsic relationship being affected by the extrinsic adverse environments into which they often treaded). While their role was limited to being loyal customers, or a small charity from time to time in money or kind, the focus on community based tourism was the seed behind the concept of sustainable tourism, as anything that had to be sustained needed to enrich the very source which it harnessed.
Responsible tourism as a concept gained popularity as tourism started getting its due as one of the major factors affecting the ‘socio’-economic climate of a region, not discounting the environmental impacts. It began to be considered as something more than leisure, something which could impart ‘value’ and ‘preserve’ through cross-cultural interactions. The models were successfully tried out in tribal Africa Central America and South East Asia, and from there it moved to other developing regions.
In India, the concepts of sustainable and responsible tourism, though lingering for a long time, took a boost at the turn of the millennium, with tourism being recognized as an industry in most states and given a berth in the ‘growing sector’ conglomerate. Trying to trace the development chart backwards to small agrarian based systems, it was realized that such economies could easily be supplemented with tourism products.
We can trace the genesis towards early mountaineers and explorers, who had a very intimate working relationship with their porters and other allied staff, owing to the extreme conditions they traversed in.
AHAN was conceived feeling a sincere need to understand the changing dimensions of such forms of tourism, especially in the Himalayas and adventure tourism as a niche, and to make an honest effort in formulating methods to enhance the level of awareness the amongst local communities, thereby improving the ‘community pride’ and consequently the standard of living.