This Ecoclub Ecolodge™ Ecolabel Desktop Audit Report was prepared by the Ecoclub Ecolodge™ Ecolabel Administrator based on material provided by the Proprietor of Desia Ecotourism Bed and Breakfast. The Ecoclub Ecolodge™ Ecolabel Auditor has reviewed the report and is satisfied that the accommodation facility meets the requirements for the award of the Ecoclub Ecolodge™ Ecolabel. The report was approved on 25 May 2020 and Desia Ecotourism Bed and Breakfast is hereby accepted and certified as an Ecoclub Ecolodge™ through 25 May 2023.
0.1. Applicant Name & Surname: Yugabrata Kar
0.2. Official Name of Property: Desia Ecotourism Bed and Breakfast
0.3. Official Name of Company: Heritage Tours
0.4. Applicant's Official Role in relation to the Property being Rated: Owner
0.5. Name(s) of Person(s) or Company that is the legal owner of the Property: Yugabrata Kar
0.6. Since when has the Property been under the current ownership? 2012
0.7. Accommodation Type & Size: BNB
0.8. Property Address (actual location): At Bantalbiri Village, near Matamput, PO-Machhkund, Koraput District, Odisha State, India
0.9. Business Contact Address: Heritage Tours, At Mayfair Beach Resort, C.T. Road, Puri-752002, Odisha, India
0.10. Property Website(s)/Blog(s): https://desiakoraput.com
0.11. Property Location - Map Coordinates: Google Maps (18.5728842 82.5117609)
0.12. Is the Property currently operating as a tourism accommodation facility with all legal tourism/tax/local permits/licenses? Yes, we are approved by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India as a Bed and Breakfast. (A copy of the certificate is attached.) Also approved as Desia Eco Tourism Motel by the Department of Tourism, Government of Odisha. Registered with MSME (Micro Small Medium Enterprise, by Government of India).
0.13. Period of Construction: May 2011 to November 2014
0.14. Year of Last Major Renovation: 2018
0.15. Date of first operation as an Accommodation facility: 1st of November 2014
SECTION 1 – Criterion 1: “Minimise your Environmental Impact.”
1.1. Property Siting: Based on our research and experience on Tribal Tourism as a tour operator, we realised that tribal tourism in the conventional way (staying at near by city hotel and making day excursion to the tribal area) does not bring any benefit to the local community .Also over the year ,we learned about the importance of practicing Responsible Tourism which motivated us to initiate this project at this remote location of the Koraput valley which aims to empower local community by making tourism a tool.
1.2. Nearest village or town, population and distance from the property: Nearest village is Bantalbiri village which has 40 houses and is a small village with population of about 150 persons from various community like Godaba tribe, Harijans etc. It is about 1 km from the property and this village is the contact point for the project Desia.
1.3. Property Design: Property is designed by a renown artist from Santineeketan, West Bengal who is known for contemporary building style which has a touch of local tribal house design and at the same time comfort of modern living.
1.4 Property Construction: Property is constructed mostly using local materials such as stones, clay, lime, wood, teracotta tiles. Toilet fittings, glass for doors and windows, tents, electrical fittings are some of the materials which were procured from nearest town Jeypore. The construction was carried out by the local villagers under supervision of the designer artist and few skilled professionals from his team.
1.5. Property Renovation & Maintenance: We have added 5 deluxe Swiss tents with attached toilet to increase the capacity as the demand increased.Also we have added 5kva solar panel for total electrical supply, 1000lt solar water heater for hot water
1.6. Compliance with Zoning Requirements: Approved by the local village authority
1.7. Biodiversity Conservation: We take upmost care for protection of bio diversity and has policy of Plastic Free.
We encourage the guests to plant a tree as a memory of their trip to Desia and we look after the tree.
We have adopted nearby waterfall to keep this place free from plastic garbage, bottles as lot of picnic goers used to throw their garbage in nature.We have installed adequate numbers of waste bins and we periodically clean those bins.
1.8. Greenhouse gas emissions: We do not have any access for such monitoring.
1.9. Environmentally preferable purchasing: We make our purchase from local farmers and do not buy products which can generate plastic (package).
1.10. Local & organic products: We promote local products and also we grow some vegetables organically at our own campus.
1.11. Pesticide avoidance: We strictly avoid use pesticide in our farm. Instead we use compost from cow dung which we procure from near by villages.
1.12: Environmental Management System: Being in remote location (with out proper power, internet) we do not have any possibility to measure the impact of environment. However being small as an advantage, we ensure that we do not pollute the local environment which needs a management. Our approach is sustainable living in harmony with nature.
1.13: Appliances/Devices Maintenance: We have to depend upon the nearest town Jeypore which is 55 km from our place for maintenance of appliances. We use solar system for our light and hot water system, We practice to reduce the waste generation and minimum use of plastic .For example, we do not use plastic water bottles or packaged drinking water bottles instead we have installed RO WATER FILTER for pure drinking water purposes. We encourage plantation and guests are encouraged to plant a tree as a memory of their visit.
1.14. Lighting: We have installed a 5kw solar back up plant which is the main source for Lighting.
1.15. Heating: We have a solar water heater.
1.16. Cooling: Natural cooling as we are about 1000mt high in the valley. However we have some Fans (ventilators) for cooling the rooms during hot season.
1.17. Cleaning: We do our own cleaning. We use natural cleaning materials and avoid use of chemicals for cleaning purpose
1.18. Water Management: We have our own tube well to supply water to the over head tank which in turn distribute water to the rooms. We use RO type water filter for drinking water and do not supply packaged water in plastic bottles (instead we have glass bottles and declare that our water is safe to drink).
1.19. Rainwater & grey water recycling: Not Yet.
1.20. Irrigation: Natural irrigation in traditional method.
1.21. Composting: We have compost pits for food waste where as other waste are transported to the city on each fortnight.
1.22. Pool Management: We do not have a pool.
1.23. Species used in outdoor planting: Local fruit bearing trees, some local flowers.
1.24. Paper products: Not much in use.
1.25. Durable goods: N/A
1.26. Beverages provision: Local coffee and drinks. We have coffee plantation in our region and the coffee collected are rich in aroma. Most of the coffee goes out from the region for export purpose as the locals do not have a coffee or tea drinking culture.We procure the coffee seeds from the farmers , roast them manually and use it after manually grinding by using filter coffee makers which is very much liked by the guests because of its rich flavour and aroma
1.27. Detergents & Toiletries: Purchased from nearby city. we use herbal shampoo and soaps as toiletries for our guest and refill them at the dispenser fitted in the toilet as we do not use plastic pouches or small bottles in the room to provide toiletries which creates lot of waste after checkout. Hence refilling from large bottles ( branded natural products ) For example: Aloe Vera, Patanjali etc
1.28. Used Textiles & furniture: Not in use.
1.29. Cooking: By Gas.
1.30. Waste Prevention: Minimise the food waste. we cook according to the order or reservation .From experience , we learned the quantity to be cooked and ensure that we donot have to store them.If for any reason more food is being cooked , we provide the same to the staff than stroking it for the next day as we believe in fresh food.
1.31. Waste sorting & recycling: Wet waste used to make compost where as dry waste stays in a bin which is being transported to near by city each fortnight.
1.32. Insect, pest control: Not in use.
1.33. Noise Protection: Not required as we are in a very quiet location.
1.34. Smoking Policy: No Smoking in Public areas nor inside the room. However a guest can smoke at his/her private sitting area.
1.35. Environmental Transport Use and/or Promotion: We promote local/public transport for excursions. Hiking, bicycle rides are available for the guest. For long distance, we promote train journeys.
1.36. Accessibility by public transport: The nearest train station is Koraput (55 km, north) and Bheja (30 km, south).
For Bus, Jeypore is the nearest best bus station which connects to all major part of Odisha or neighbouring state which is about 50 km from our place.
However there is direct bus connectivity from Jeypore (twice a day) and Visakhapatnam (once a day) to our camp.
In fact you can stop at the front of our gate if you are coming by bus from the nearest town, Jeypore, which is about 55km from our location and Visakhapatnam which has one service per day (about 220km from Desia).
The nearest official bus stop is Machhkund which is 6km from us or Lamptaput which is 13 km away.
It is worth mentioning here that the locals have created a bus stop in the name of Desia which is just in front of our gate. We are planning to make there a shade for people to rest and wait for the bus with some drinking water facility.
1.37. Consumption Monitoring: Not yet.
1.38. Staff Training: All our staff are from nearby village and they do not have formal educational background .We arrange in-house training for them at the site and also some of them were sent to a hotel management college for basic training on house keeping , production etc. In fact, they learned most being at the camp and now their service capacity is noway less than any star category hotel .(Please see the trip advisor reviews where we have almost all reviews are five star). We also send them to our office at Puri and to our restaurant at Puri during off season to learn English and the basics of cooking.
1.39. Information for Guests: We recommend guests to read our website to know more about Desia before arrival. Also on arrival , we introduce them to the crew and our manager provide the guests adequate information regarding the concept of this project, the Dos And Don"t etc.
Our local guide provide all relevant information on culture, people and activities. Also we are highly recommended in the Lonely Planet guide book which provides basic information about us.
1.40 Anything else you would like to mention in this section? We engage various activities with locals to bring benefits of tourism for more people from the community. For example, we run a coaching tutorial for students for better education where 30 students participate, a Shop to sale local products which is run by the local women and the profit goes to them, we have given cows-goats etc from our profit to support livelihood for poor family in the village and so on.
SECTION 2 – Criterion 2: “Respect Human Rights, Labour Rights and Animal Rights.”
2.1. Complying with all local health and safety regulations? We take upmost care for safety and health of our guests by maintaining hygiene and standards. We do not have any mandatory regulations related to health and safety because of the remote location and small size. There is a local hospital 13km from our place and a small health center at about 2km.
2.2. Access for all? Yes we are open to all casts, religions and genders. Since we do not have many stairs to climb, the physically challenged guests can also manage if they have an attendant.
2.3. Respect local communal and indigenous rights? Yes it is the core of our business philosophy and we ensure that our guests, our actions and our team always respect the local culture, people and tradition. We always brief our guests about their right approach to the community when they visit villages. Our guides are also trained in this aspect and ensure that we never intrude to someone’s privacy while visiting their villages .Photography with consent , not giving money or any kind of gifts to children , proper dress code are some of the examples of our responsible tourism practice.
2.4. Decent work conditions? Yes. We provide salary and work condition as per the govt regulation .We ensure that all the staff are paid in time and their salary complies govt specifications based on skill.
We also offer them 4 days paid off per month and 15 days of earned leave per year.
We have ensured all of them and for their family with EMPLOYEES STATE INSURANCE for their health insurance .
2.5. Equal opportunity? We have equal opportunity for all. We have 9staffs working with us and out of them we have four women staff.This shows that we provide equal opportunity for all.We have no discrimination on salary base on gender.
2.6. Prevention of employee harassment? We do not have any such issue. we have not such issues as all the staff are from one community
2.7. Equal employment opportunities to local residents? It is totally run by locals.
2.8. Health insurance and Pension? All our staff are covered with health insurance though government agency.
Please find a copy of the Employee State Insurance (ESI) for a member of staff below:
2.9. Paid Leave? We provide paid holidays and weekly a day off.. Members of staff are entitled to four days of paid leave per month and 15 extra days in a year. For practical purposes they are almost free for 4 months as our business is very seasonal .
2.10. Maternity Leave? We have not come across such situation. If required, we shall extend the maternity leave with paid salary, as prescribed by the government.
2.11. Paternity Leave? Not applicable.
2.12. Wage Levels? Our salary standard Is the best in the locality and more than the normal pay in agriculture. We pay our employees round the year even though our operation is about 6 months. We comply with government statutory rules for wages.
2.13. What is the total you paid for wages last year? We ensure minimum wages rule as set by Government and all the staffs are paid accordingly. It is about 800,000 INR per year
2.14. What is the average wage, the highest wage, and the lowest wage? The wages range from Rs 80,000 to Rs 120,000
2.15. Average and maximum working day, and work hours per week: 48 hrs per week approximately. We do not have such hourly basis of calculation. During the high season, the average working hours is 12 hrs per day whereas in the low season it can be 3 hrs per day.
2.16. Do you employ your staff all year round? Yes we employ them year round (10 persons) and we hire a few extra workers from village as per the work requirements.
2.17. Do you employ immigrants? Are they permanent or temporary employees? Are they offered the same remuneration & benefits? No.
2.18. Do you employ trainees? No, not yet.
2.19. Do you use volunteers? Please explain what tasks they are given? We had one international volunteer who worked with us for one and half years. Her job was to ensure hygiene, professionalism, sustainability, guest relations and communication.
Did your international volunteer train any member of your staff and in which field(s)? Yes, she trained our staff on language, hygiene, guest service, house keeping, environment care etc .
2.20. Do you offer concessions to elderly visitors, students, young visitors, or nationals? Yes, depending on the situation - for example, we do not offer any discount during peak season as we have limited places to stay.
2.20.1 Do you have a fixed discount for these categories, or on a case by case basis? We offer special discounts for students and elders on a case to case basis depending upon the season. .
2.21. What measures are in place to protect the local (or the indigenous) population from some adverse impacts of tourism?
By adopting Responsible Tourism practices, respect for local culture, proper briefing to our guests, being small (max 20 guests) and interacting with locals we try to protect from the adverse impact of tourism. We brief our guests about the local culture, tradition and how to be respectful. Each room has a sign with Dos and Dont's. See the picture below:
2.22. Do you undertake any injustice reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to injustice reduction? N/A
2.23. What is the minimum, maximum and average age of your current employees (excluding yourself and members of the family)? Minimum 20 yrs, Maximum 57 yrs
2.24. How many employees do you have (excluding yourself and members of the family)? Ten (10).
2.25. Is everyone accepted as a guest or are there any regulations / restrictions? We do not encourage big groups of party-making tourists who have no respect for the locals, nature or others privacy.
2.26. If How long have you (the Owner) been residing in the area and for how many months each year? I first arrived in the area 10 years ago. Normally I go at least once every month to the property and stay at least a week per month. Sometimes I stay longer depending upon the nature of work.
2.27. How are decisions taken and by whom? The staff take active part in the decision making process. We have a system of daily morning meetings where the staff discuss about their responsibility for the day, guest arrival /departure details, pick up/drop details and allot their jobs accordingly. Apart from this we hold discussions about future planning and projects to undertake to meet the goal of DESIA. To give a recent example of involvement of the team in decision-making: the team decided not to go for further construction work (as we were planing for one more room to replace the tents) as there will be very low tourism due to the Covid-19. They also decided to start some business locally (procuring tamarind and deseeding to sale at local market) to take care of part of their salary .The team just wanted some seed money to start this business .This is a true sense of self empowerment and ability to take decision during crises time.
2.28. Who has access to the Property’s facilities and its land and for what uses?
All guests, locals, govt officials and staff have access to the properties facilities. The services like accommodation , restaurant, local product shop are open for guests. However we run free teaching class for local students in our campus. We also have land for farming which is accessible by local farmers who look after it.
2.29. Do your employees belong to a labour/trade union? No, there is no such union in our location
2.29. Do you have an Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Policy? N/A
2.30. Policy towards Animals? We do not keep or use any animal in our property for tourism purposes.
2.31. Anything else you would like to mention in this section? N/A
SECTION 3 – Criterion 3: “Meet Real Local Needs and Reduce Poverty & Inequality.”
3.1. Who took the initiative to build this Property? Yugabrata Kar, the proprietor of Heritage Tours
3.2. Poverty reduction initiatives? One of the objective of this project is poverty reduction at the local community by making tourism a tool. This project has employed 10 persons from the village and all of them were living below the poverty line. Now their living conditions have improved a lot, thanks to the earnings from various tourism-related activities. Also many other from the community at the grassroot level get an indirect benefit from this project. (For example: local transport operators, local farmers, local shops, local musical group, craftmen etc.).
We support various small projects at the grassroot level for establishing their own business by providing cow, goat, money etc which aims to reduce poverty.
The shop "NONI" also supports a local women group to sell their handmade products directly to guests which brings them better earnings and reduces poverty.
Please find below some photos of local hand made projects made by local women and sold at the shop:
3.3. Inequality reduction initiatives? We do not have this issue here as in the tribal area everyone is equal and they do not discriminate.
3.4. Local purchasing policy? We procure all our vegetables, groceries from the local farmers/shop at the next village or from the weekly market. For other stuff like cleaning utensils, gas etc we have to depend upon the nearest city. We avoid plastic packages and procure in decent quantity so that we do not use more packaging material. We always insist on organic products and handmade products .
3.5. Number of rooms: 6 mud houses and 5 deluxe Swiss tents
3.6. Number of beds: 20
3.7. What is the total area of the land of the Property? About 3.5 acres
3.8. What is the total area of the rooms and common areas? About 1500 sq mt
3.9. What is the total building footprint (the part of the land covered by buildings)? 20% of the land is covered with construction whereas 80% of the land is free for farming, gardening, campfire and sitting area.
3.10. Number of employees (excluding yourself and members of the family)? 10 full-time employees and 4 extra part-time employees during high season.
3.11. How many employees are from the (nearest) local village? 10
3.12. Do your employees or the community own any shares or share part of the revenue? They share part of the revenue from Restaurant sales (20% of profits) and 100% profits from the souvenir shop.
3.13. What was the total turnover (total sales) in 2019? Rs 1,900,000 (approximately)
3.14. What were the total profits in 2019? (Please state the operational profits, without deducting the loan repayment.): Rs 375,000 (Approximately)
3.15. How are profits distributed, and who decides about it? We still we have to repay a part of loan to the bank Hence we do not have surplus revenue to distribute to the staff. Also we have to keep them employed round the year even though we have guests only for 4-5 month in a year with about 40% occupancy. In the off-season we intend to invest in some common project to empower them by the earnings from the project.
3.16. Are there any national and/or local (municipal) taxes to be paid or are you exempt? We have to pay GST and Income tax form our sales/earnings .
3.17. What was the total amount of taxes paid in 2017? About Rs 450,000 inclusive of all business (as I have some other business like Heritage Tours, Wildgrass Restaurant)
3.18. What percentage of consumables are locally sourced, how many are nationally sourced, and how many are imported? Mostly local. 90% of our procurement are locally sourced and the rest comes from the nearest city. We do not use any imported consumables.
3.19. Do you cultivate food for the guests? Yes, we have a kitchen garden which produces some vegetables for our guest use, but most of the vegetables are procured from local farmers at the local weekly market.
3.20. Do you have any agreements with local producers? Yes, we procure our requirements from local farmer and shop at near by village.
3.21. Have ever you received any funding, state, national, private or international and for what purposes? Yes, we have received about Rs 1,200,000 from Odisha State's Tourism Department as a subsidy for capital investment in Tourism in a remote area (20%) to create employment and infrastructure for tourists. We organised a crowdfunding campaign via Wishberry in 2016 to build a lobby for tourists and were able to raise Rs 200,000.
3.22. What is the minimum (low season) double room rate (including breakfast) per room per night? Rs 2,500-3,000 per night including breakfast .
3.23. What is the maximum (high season) double room rate (including breakfast) per room per night? Rs 5,000 per room (deluxe) including breakfast.
3.24. Are you planning to sell the property within the foreseeable future, and if so why? No.
3.25. If planning to sell the Property, have you explored and do you consider solutions involving the local community or members there of as owners? N/A
3.26. Is the Property open all year? If not, please provide relevant dates: Yes
3.27. Which is the nearest local community (village or town) and how far is it from the lodge: Bantalbiri village, about 1 km from the camp.
3.28. Did the (nearest) local community participate in the decision-making process concerning the founding and creation of this Lodge and how? Yes , it is the local community which helped us to start, build and operate the project. They are the core of our project. However, they are not involved in day to day decision-making in operation. We have formed an advisory committee with the local community for taking decisions relating to the involvement of the community.
3.30. Anything else you would like to mention in this section? N/A
SECTION 4 – Criterion 4: “Increase Knowledge & Intercultural Understanding”.
4.1. Information and interpretation? At Desia we intend to make the stay of our guests more meaningful than just a resort stay, by providing possibilities where the guests can not only connect themselves with nature but also can get an exposure to sustainable living with nature. This enhances their understanding of a simple and peaceful lifestyle.
Below please find a photo of a guest orientation session:
4.2. Cultural interactions? We offer our guests various cultural interactions with the local culture by knowing about their daily life, participating in the weekly market, being in their festivals etc. This gives guests a unique opportunity to learn local culture through interaction.
4.3. Cultural Heritage Conservation? We support local youths to perform their traditional music and festivals to conserve their cultural heritage. We are planning a music festival of tribal music for such objective as the youths are forgetting the old ,traditional music. We encourage local women to learn and make traditional jewellery and promote their sale though our shop which encourages them and brings them a sense of pride about their own cultural heritage.
4.4. Natural Heritage Conservation? We organise cleaning of villages and motivate the young generation to stay plastic-free. We have adopted a nearby waterfall and make periodic cleaning, we have installed waste-bins to keep this natural paradise clean from plastic garbage thrown by local tourists and picnickers. We also have a "Plant a Tree" policy where our guests can plant a local tree at our area as a memory of their trip. We have a target of planting 500 trees per year to conserve the natural heritage by adding greenery.
Please find photos below from village cleaning:
4.5. Do you encourage guests to interact with the local community and in what ways? Yes, interaction with local community is a key element of our place. We have trained guides from the village who take guests for hike to the villages where they interact with the local community. Also we encourage our guests to participate in various activities like making pottery at the potters village or helping the farmer in his field, which gives them a good interaction with the local community.
4.6. What type of information is available to guests at the Property?
We have a activity booklet for guests which presents various possible activities in and around Desia. In each room we have a card which shows the Do's and Don'ts and Rules of Responsible Tourism. Our on site Manager also gives all information about the concept of Desia and our sucess/failure stories to the guests on the first dinner meet. Most of our guests are on a tour programme with the itinerary and the activities are based on the itinerary. However for walk in guests we have a book with possible activities such as hiking, lunch in a village, fishing, doing pottery, lending a hand to the local farmer. Some of the activities are paid and others are on the house.
4.7. What type of activities are available to guests at the Property? We have designed various local activities for the guests keeping in mind the impact and resources. Some of the activities include Hiking, Bicycle trips, visiting weekly markets, Dhokra craft workshop, cooking lessons, lunch in a village, pottery making in a village, fishing at a nearby river, archery with local tribe, music with a local band etc.
4.8. Local guided tours for guests organised by you? Yes, as explained above.
4.9. Events/presentations held at the Property so far? Jewelry training workshop for local women, Art Camp by Artists from various countries, Art camp for local children.
4.10. Is there a specific programme for children and young travellers?
We run a tutorial class for school childern where a teacher comes thrice a week to prepare better study for the local kids as the teaching at school is not enough at most of the cases due to various reason. We also arrange art workshop for the local kids at our site in regular interval where they learn to play with colour. We also have a craft workshop, nature walk, cricket or local games for young travellers.
4.11. Academic Research and Academic Publications produced or assisted by the property so far? In 2019 we assisted two students from Xavier University (Bhubaneswar, Odisha) to complete their internship which involved the study of microfinance impact at the grassroots level. We have also worked with the same university for their Study Abroad Programme where each year students from San Diego State University (California, US) come for a study tour on sustainability in rural India. Please find a photo of the relevant certificate offered to Desia Founder below:
4.12. Is the local community at all involved in the operation of the Lodge and how? All of the staff are from local community. We support various projects in the villages from the part of our earning like education for children, animal husbandry, support for small farming or local business, provision of blankets/umbrellas to the elderly etc. We have also organised a travel opportunity for elderly people from the villages to popular tourist destinations of our state as none of them have even been out of their region. Now we are starting a similar project to take some students from local school on an exposure trip to the historic places in the state .
4.13. Anything else you would like to mention in this section? Please also see this Video which illustrates many of the points presented above:
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