Equitable Tourism Options (EQUATIONS) is a research, campaign and advocacy organisation. We study the social, cultural, economic and environmental impact of tourism on local communities. We believe that tourism should be non-exploitative, equitable and sustainable. A question that has been central to our work and directs much of it is 'Who Really Benefits from Tourism?'
Our Method of Work:
Research and Analysis - Our research focuses on the impacts of tourism. Under its ambit, the broad areas which we research on are the economic, social, cultural, environmental, and legal and policy impacts. We also critically analyse tourism development at 'destinations' on how it impacts the lives and livelihood of local communities, their social milieu and their environment.
Campaigns and Advocacy - We initiate campaigns and support people's struggles, against unjust, undemocratic and unsustainable forms of tourism. We advocate people's concerns with local, regional and national government and lobby for change. Our advocacy aims for decentralised democracy and we believe that communities should have a decisive voice in the access, control and ownership over their livelihood, natural resources and common resources. We try to ensure people's experience and aspirations influences tourism policies.
Networking - We build networks of people; grassroots organisations, local communities, activists, researchers, trade unions, legal and policy experts, who are concerned, as we are, with ensuring that tourism planning, policy and implementation is equitable, people-centred and just. We rely on our network partners to build our perspectives from the ground.
Brief about Programmes:
Institutions, Policies and Tourism Models (IPT): The Institutions, Policies and Tourism Models programme aims to influence tourism policy, models and practice by the leadership of local communities for greater sustainability and local benefits. We strive to form a national tourism platform that serves to debate, discuss and influence tourism development and its institutions in India, facilitate the formation of people's policies on tourism and its allied sectors so that a bottom-up and people-centered approach to tourism development is effected and to build a body of knowledge on alternative tourism models. The programme works with the learning and contribution of all other programmes in order to consolidate these experiences and leverage them to influence institutions, polices, processes and models of tourism.
Economics of Tourism (EoT): The Economics of Tourism programme aims to ensure that the economic policy and tourism regulation in the country delivers benefits to local communities. We work to develop an understanding of tourism economics, highlighting local and regional impacts of tourism on the economy. We monitor the tourism industry and forge strategic linkages with informal and formal sectors within the industry and influence national trade and economic policies related to tourism to prioritise local economic benefits, community rights, benefits and regulation of tourism.
Ecosystems, Communities and Tourism (ECT): Our programme on Ecosystems,Communities and Tourism aims at engaging people on tourism’s impacts & policies on ecosystems and communities and explore their linkages including culture, livelihoods and their access to natural resources. We work on local, national and international level policies and processes to critique current models of tourism; all of which have a bearing on ecological sustainability, biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods.
Governance, Law and Tourism (GLT): The Governance, Law and Tourism programme aims to ensure that Local Self Governing Institutions (LSGIs) and communities play their roles as per the constitutional mandate to regulate tourism development. We work with rural and urban LSGIs to exercise their rights and to develop guidelines and mechanisms to strengthen local regulation of tourism and to ensure that they play an active and decisive role in tourism development. We also believe in advocating with central and state governments for LSGIs to have more powers of enforceability over regulatory aspects at the local level, in preventing dilution & strengthening of legislative measures to ensure sustainability, regulation, and safeguarding of communities' rights in the context of tourism. The programme additionally looks at the implications of the increasing number of para-statal bodies being set up and the extent to which they subvert decentralised decision making which is the at the heart of local self governance.
Society, Culture and Tourism (SCT): The Society, Culture and Tourism programme aims to ensure that people's perspectives and demands related to social and cultural needs/ rights/ concerns are highlighted and acknowledged by the tourism sector/industry. Our work examines the interactions, issues and impacts between tourism and varied society groups (women, children, students, youth, adivasis, LGBT, caste based groups & urban communities). We endeavour to bring in people’s perspectives and demands related to social and cultural needs, rights & concerns in tourism & related legislations, policies and plans.
Tourism Resource Centre (TRC): The Tourism Resource Centre aims to inform society about and influence its perception of tourism and its impacts. We strive to provide updated, timely information and analysis on tourism trends and developments, to a wide range of external and internal stakeholders. The programme provides research support to ensure quality of content and to maintain consistency. We engage with the media to build perspectives on critical issues in tourism. Another important aspect of the programme is communicating on the issue of tourism to people at large who are also the tourists.