The fleet – comprising 9 vehicles (including the Thar, Fortuner and Gypsy—none in the ‘environmentally friendly’ category) and 25 participants – will cover various territories in Ladakh, with the first one planned from August 1 to 14, and the second from August 21 to September 3. The official press release from the company says that the expeditions will highlight, showcase and promote the culture of responsible travel. Apparently they are aiming to drive home the ‘natural grandeur, diversity, culture and people of the forgotten lands,’ and while at it, talk about things like waste generation, zero litter, cultural competence, benefits to local economy, etc.
CauseBecause reached out to CEAT Tyres’ representatives with three questions for better understanding of the strategy and intended impact, but there was no response. These were the questions:
a) Who precisely is the target group for the communication and how will the content be disseminated?
b) How will the impact of the programme be assessed?
c) Do you plan to make the expedition itself sustainable, in terms of the travel, stay and other ways whereby the carbon footprint can be minimised?
The PR reads
The company has partnered with Wander Beyond Boundaries (WBB) to organise the two 4×4 extreme-terrain driving expeditions, which are being called ‘Zanskar & Beyond’. The expeditions will start and end at Leh, covering 1,100 km in approximately 14 days, with an average of 8-hour driving daily.
In the press release, Nidhi Salgame, founder and director, WBB, expresses confidence that the two journeys ‘will not only increase awareness about the various contours of the region and its culture, but also propagate the culture of responsible travel.’ Explaining the urgency for action, she says: ‘Zanskar is a pristine geography in Western Ladakh; had remained tucked away from the ballooning tourism in Eastern Ladakh, and therefore was insulated from its ill-effects for decades due to limited road access. But with two new roads opening in the last two years, there has been a sudden influx of tourism. Unless the pristine natural and cultural beauty is preserved proactively, it is a matter of time before we lose it.’
In the same release, Amit Tolani, chief marketing officer at CEAT Tyres, stresses that ‘a responsible and sustainable tourism culture needs to become mainstream if the area is to survive the onslaught,’ and that ‘this awareness must be deliberately built, embedded, and impressed upon – both with local and well-meaning tourists.’
Whether these are achievable in the course of two expeditions – without clarity on the strategy – remains a moot point.