Root Network: A women-led startup that aims to make sustainable tourism mainstream

Ever since the corona outbreak, everything was on a stand-still and so was tourism. People stopped traveling as a precautionary measure. However, as the cases in Pakistan have lowered to a considerable extent, it seems like everything is returning back to the normal routine. Although tourism might be open now and the suspected corona cases might have dropped, it is so important to still take all the preventive measures and avoid overcrowding places to prevent any future inconvenience.

In the middle of all this, a women-led startup named ‘Root Network’, is serving the tourism industry by raising awareness on how to make the industry grow and progress keeping the current situation in view.

The Root Network Organization

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We are all well aware that there is going to be a new normal for everything after the COVID-era, and all of us need to play our part to make this transition possible. I spent this quarantine period working with a group of female travelers and development professionals. We were drawn together by a shared belief in the importance of responsible travel, and aim to work toward a sustainable future for Pakistan’s tourism industry. Through @rootnetworkorg we aim to create an equitable and inclusive tourism industry in Pakistan by increasing access to meaningful economic opportunities for indigenous communities, promoting local culture and heritage, and advocating for sustainable development and responsible travel practices. Due to the current climate, our pilot project is focused on the capacity building required for managing the implications of COVID-19 in touristic areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, for providing assistance and relief to vulnerable professionals associated with tourism. Restarting tourism in Pakistan is necessary for economic recovery, but precautions must be taken to ensure it is not at the expense of local communities’ health and safety.  Meet Aziza, a tour guide, world traveler, and trekker from Passu, Hunza. Last year, she guided 5 groups of foreign tourists throughout Pakistan. This year? Not a single group. Want to help a sister out? You can support Aziza and 150+ other tourism professionals like her by donating at the link in our bio. Your donation will provide tour guides, hotel workers, and porters in Gilgit-Baltistan with COVID safety training, specialized COVID kits with all the equipment they need to work safely when tourism restarts, and payment for their time for immediate financial relief. Plus, we’ll help connect them with the market so tourists know they’re making an effort to keep people safe. Please donate at the link in our bio: www.rootnetwork.org/donate-covid/ Donations within Pakistan can be sent to: Account Title: Aneeqa Ali Account Num: 0148150000008342 IBAN: PK59FAYS0148150000008342 Bank: Faysal Bank Limited If you can't donate, you can still help us by spreading the word around.

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The organization basically supports the tourist industry by giving tips on how to work in a ‘safe’ environment.

Its basic goal, as described by the organization itself, is the following.

The organization aims at creating an ‘equitable and inclusive’ tourism industry in the country by increasing the access to ‘economic’ opportunities for ‘indigenous communities’. It also wants to promote the ‘local culture’ and heritage as well as advocate sustainable development.

The organization’s co-founder, Aeeqa Ali, is also the founder of a female run experiential traveling company named, ‘The Mad Hatters Pk’.  Aeeqa believes that tourism is the key to improve the economy. However, it shouldn’t be done at the expense of the region’s safety.

Root Network has also drawn a lot of attention towards the important point of how locals in tourist areas are exploited and how mass tourism can be a harm to these areas. They have also planned and launched a COVID-19 tourism ‘safety project’. This plan provides safety and practice to travelers about how to travel responsibly.

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