Role of media in promoting responsible tourism: Case study of two farmstays in Darjeeling hills

The chapter is part of Media Management in Communicating Tourism: Edited Essays (ISBN: 9781648054341). (Originally Published February 2020)

Mrinalini Sharma


Responsible Tourism targets niche audience who have an inclination for visiting places that conform to sustainable practices in socio-cultural, environmental, economic aspects of society.

The media especially digital media has an important role in promoting these destinations and providing a direct link between hosts and visitors. The online platforms are instrumental in highlighting the good work done in responsible tourism ventures so that others in the tourism industry are encouraged to adopt sustainability.    

Keywords: Tourism, Responsible Tourism, Sustainability, Media, Digital Media.


The concept of responsible tourism also used interchangeably with sustainable tourism, implies lessening the adverse impact on environment, social and economic aspects while practicing tourism. It is a relatively new concept that has its root in the Brundtland Report of 1987. Also known as ‘Our Common Future’, the report was released by the World Commission on Environment and Development. Our Common Future, is not a prediction of ever increasing environmental decay, poverty, and hardship in an ever more polluted world among ever decreasing resources. We see instead the possibility for a new era of economic growth, one that must be based on policies that sustain and expand the environmental resource base (Our Common Future, 1987). The concept of sustainability arose from the recognition that the earth’s limited resources could not indefinitely support the rapid population and industrial growth as economic development moves to reduce poverty and increase standards of living among all countries (Bhutia, 2015).

However, tourism is one industry that has tried to implement the practice of sustainability and responsibility towards the community and surroundings. Although it is recognized that tourism can be beneficial to the natural environment by promoting environmental conservation, tourism also has a negative impact on the environment. It is increasingly a concern of the public sector to pay more attention to the protection of the natural environment (Bhutia, 2015).

Communication plays a key role in promoting responsible tourism, facilitating easy interaction between stakeholders and spreading awareness of sustainable practices and its long-term benefits. An effective communication strategy through appropriate media tools is imperative in order to accomplish a sustainable tourism venture.

In the past 20 years the world has swiftly shifted from the analogue to digital media and the Internet-driven technology has pervaded every sector of our lives from education, health, career, lifestyle including the travel and tourism industry. The online word of mouth publicity

facilitated by the internet has drastically changed the tourism landscape.

There has been a significant change in the distribution of travel products over the past decade, and much has been written about the demise of the travel agent.  However, while the traditional ‘brick and mortar’ leisure travel agency has found the new electronic environment challenging, a new generation of intermediaries, such as Expedia, Travelocity,, Cruise Critic, etc. are quite successfully filling the void (Stephen Litvin, 2008). It has become imperative for stakeholders in the hospitality sector to be adept in the use of digital technology.

The concept of responsible tourism   

The first step to set-up definitive guidelines for responsible tourism was made during the Cape Town Conference on Responsible Tourism held at Johannesburg in 2002. It was a side event preceding the main event — World Summit on Sustainable Development — that was held the same year in Johannesburg. The conference was based on the responsible tourism policies implemented by South Africa in their tourist destinations. 

The guidelines stipulated by the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism 2002 include the following:

  • minimises negative economic, environmental, and social impacts;
  • generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of

host communities, improves working conditions and access to the industry;

  • involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances;
  • makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world’s diversity;
  • provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues;
  • provides access for physically challenged people;
  • and is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence (The Cape Town Declaration, 2002).

Among other definitions of responsible tourism, The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) has described it as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.”

Responsible tourism in Darjeeling hills

Darjeeling hills; An Introduction 

Darjeeling hills comprise the districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong and are located in the northern-most part of the state of West Bengal. Surrounded by tea gardens, forests, rivers and the Mount Kanchenjunga, the region has been a popular hill station since the British regime in India. Darjeeling hills are located in the sub-Himalayan region and enjoy a sub-tropical highland climate with wet summers caused by monsoon rains. Darjeeling hills are a part of the Eastern Himalayan zoo-geographic zones. Singalila National Park and Neora Valley National Park lie within this region and is home to Red pandas, Clouded leopard, Siberian weasel, Himalayan tahr, goral, gaur. The region is abounding with sal, oak, alpine, temperate forests, different types of rare orchids, gladioli and rhododendrons. Population consists of diverse ethnic groups like Bahuns, Chettris, Newars, Rais, Gurungs, Limbus, Kamis, Damais, Yolmos, Tamangs, Lepchas, Sherpas and Bhutias.

Tourism in Darjeeling hills

The rise of tourism in Darjeeling hills dates back to 1835 when the British established a sanatorium for their unwell British soldiers and residents in adjoining Bengal and Burma. The temperate climate of the region provided a cool respite for them from the scorching summer heat of the plains. The establishment of the “The Darjeeling Family Hotel” in 1839 marked the beginning of tourism industry in the area. The Wilson Hotel, Woodland, Eden Sanatorium, Lewis Jubilee sanatorium, Grand Hotel, Central Hotel, Bellevue Hotel and Hotel Mount Everest were established soon afterwards. After independence, Bengal government took over the tourism industry and established tourist lodges in different parts of the hills. In 1975 the West Bengal Tourist Development Corporation was established by Bengal government to uplift the tourism scenario in the state including Darjeeling hills. However, with the setting up of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), an autonomous body, the department of tourism was transferred to it. In 2011, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration replaced DGHC and it has taken over the tourism industry in the area.

Rise of responsible tourism practices in Darjeeling hills

With vast endowment of natural attractions like mountains, hills, wildlife sanctuaries, tea gardens, forests and water-bodies, tourism in Darjeeling hills has been primarily nature-based. The colonial architecture and heritage properties like Darjeeling Himalayan Railways built during British era are other tourist attractions in the region. Surrounded by natural and cultural heritages, it was imperative to implement the practice of responsible tourism that aimed at conservation and welfare of local community. There was an increasing concern to minimize the negative impact of tourism on the environment and also a concrete evidence was available that tourists have moved away from mass tourism to more individualistic and enriching experiences (Puja Mahesh, 2016).  The growth of responsible tourism in Darjeeling hills has seen a surge in the past decade. The huge influx of tourist in the urban areas during the peak tourist seasons led to congestion in the town areas, scarcity of accommodation and the civic amenities fell drastically short to meet the needs of the visitors. It was at this juncture, that accommodation in form of farmstays and homestays were set-up in the suburban areas that were off the charted tourist routes. These ecotourism ventures are community-based and aim to carry out tourism activities that are least harmful to the surrounding. In fact, tourism activities involve making use of organic food products, essential commodities and conserving natural and cultural resources.  

Research Design

The research method chosen for this paper was the case study approach. Two farmstays were chosen for this purpose where both the hosts and the guests were interviewed and observed in their natural surroundings. A total of 10 guests were interviewed, five each for two farm stays.

The first farm is Tieedi, located at Gorabari in Darjeeling district and the second farm is Petrichor, located in Gorubathan in Kalimpong district. The findings of the study were examined through the qualitative method.

Objective of Study

To study the role of digital media platforms in promoting responsible tourism.

To find out the effect of the promotion of responsible tourism through digital media on the target (tourists) group.

Literature Review

Tourism is highly dependent on the media commentary since the majority of the travel decisions are made by individuals who have never seen the destination for themselves (Hashem Mohammed Ghaleb Saeed, 2018). This is true and long-established since destinations owe their popularity to the travelogues in the form of books and videos, travel magazines, documentaries and reports in newspapers and television. In the recent past, digital media has surged the popularity manifold mainly due to its interactive feature. The Internet-driven platforms have not only proved of immense use for big tourism ventures but also for niche ventures like farmstays and homestays.

Most tourists wish to visit areas that are attractive, functional, clean and not polluted. Tourism can provide the incentive and means to maintain and, where needed, improve the environmental quality of areas (Bhutia, 2015). Digital media can be entirely a new way of approach on reaching the target audience and fast feedback for the content. It has a pivotal role for effective communication of informing and creating awareness (JH Akash, 2018). The general public could easily access the hospitality businesses’ content marketing of social and environmentally-responsible behaviours through the world wide web (Camilleri, 2017). The Internet has enabled new forms of communication platforms which have the ability to further empower both providers and consumers, allowing a vehicle for the sharing of information and opinions both from Business to Consumer, and from Consumer to Consumer (Stephen Litvin, 2008). Among these, Morgan, Pritchard, and Piggott’s (2003) New Zealand based research noted that negative WOM can have an overwhelming impact upon a destination’s image, as dissatisfied visitors spread unflattering comments related to their experiences (Stephen Litvin, 2008).

Significance of Study

The findings of this study will help in spreading awareness about the importance of being responsible while carrying out tourism activities by stakeholders in the tourism industry. Likewise, the visitors can travel responsibly to different destinations keeping in mind the importance of conserving the environment and cultural resources. Promotion of such ventures through effective communication channels will inspire others in Darjeeling hills to adopt similar tourism practices. For the policy makers, this study will help them take decisions that will be conducive for people in Darjeeling hills to start such ventures and establish the place as a popular destination that practices responsible tourism. Members of local community where the tourism ventures are located will be aware of the necessity to conserve their surroundings, the economic benefits that come with being associated with such ventures and the role they should play as hosts to the visitors.  

Area of Study

The area of study comprises two districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong. The first location of farmstay is at Gorabari, 8th Mile in Darjeeling district while the second is at Gorubathan in Kalimpong district. These are villages off the charted courses of tourist maps where farm hosts provide accommodation to visitors who would like to connect with nature.     

Case Study 1 — Tieedi Forest Farm


Tieedi is a forest farm located at Gorabari, 8th Mile in Darjeeling district. The hosts Utsow Pradhan and Aashna Behl gave up corporate careers spanning two decades to start the permaculture farm in an offbeat location in July 2016. A community-based venture, the farm uses regenerative principles of permaculture that believes in augmenting natural sources like soil, waterbodies and forests while using them in the process of cultivation. Although creating a zero-waste permaculture farm is the long-term vision, the hosts run a number of short-term projects of three-year cycle in the farm and areas adjacent to it. The projects include reforestation of the surroundings with seven-layer food forest, constructing forest dwellings with natural products, composting biodegradable waste (over 60,000 waste converted to compost so far), rainwater harvesting, getting rid of waste dumped in the surrounding and regenerating soil through natural farming practices that avoid tilling. Save 8th Mile Khola or river is a project that aims to restore a perennial mineral waterbody contaminated by random waste dumping. So far, 300 tons of inorganic waste has been removed from the river. Along with accommodating visitors who want to experience farm living, the farm conducts occasional nature camps for schools and educational institutions, permaculture and bamboo weaving workshops and yoga sessions.


Tieedi Earth Dwelling is an earth house built of mud, bamboo and straw that can accommodate five people. Tieedi Air Dwellings as the name suggests have been built off the ground with the help of cantilevers. They are two in number and can accommodate up to four persons each respectively. Tieedi Herb Dwelling is the host’s own home which has an extra room that can accommodate up to two persons. There is a backpacker’s hostel for solo travellers.    

Guidelines for visitors

  • All visitors are requested to segregate their waste into degradable and non-degradable.
  • They are asked to avoid bringing in any kind of plastic waste generating items to the Tieedi premises.
  • Footwear is not allowed in any of the mud houses.
  • No smoking.
  • No parties and events.
  • No pets allowed.

Community-based activities

The hosts at Tieedi have collaborated with local organic farmers in the region and helped them come under different co-operatives. The produce like vegetables, fruits, pickles and hand-made items are sold at the weekly Sunday Haat market in Siliguri— a major market for such products.

As a part of their project Save 8th Mile Khola, Tieedi has helped households in the local area to build septic tanks. Earlier, all the human waste from the surroundings areas were diverted to the river contaminating it. A system has been put in place where cooking gas and compost are generated from the human waste. A regular scavenging activity is organized along with community members to collect plastic waste from river bank and surrounding areas. The farm organizes training for local youth in homestay management, hiking and guide services.

The farm has collaborated several times with Salesian College — located in the neighbourhood — to carry out workshop with students on various aspects of environmental protection and public awareness campaigns. As part of Plastic eco-Bricks project, Tieedi encourages people of different villages to collect plastic. As an incentive to make the activity interesting, they pay Rs. 5 for every 300gms of plastic.  Other than that, local rice mill and cafe owners provide husk and ground coffee waste for the compost.It is a comprehensive system that takes into account economic, environmental and socio-cultural aspect of the surroundings.

Presence in different media platforms

An illustrative website along with detailed description of the forest farm, Facebook page by the name Tieedi, an Instagram account by the name @tieedi_forest_garden, AirBnB account are the online media platforms that  Tieedi. Apart from that, local newspaper Himalaya Darpan frequently carries stories on the forest farm. It has also been featured in Sikkim Express, largest circulated newspaper of Sikkim along with Darjeeling Chronicle, a popular news portal that covers Eastern Himalayan region of the country. Tieedi has a profile in – the site promotes places that serve authentic local cuisine. The forest farm has garnered ratings of4.4/5 in Google, 5/5 in Tripadvisor, 8.9/10 in Agoda and respectively. Utsow has got the tag of Superhost in Airbnb for fulfilling the criteria of hosting at least 10 stays in a year, maintaining prompt response rate of 90 percent or higher, rarely cancelling on confirmed reservations, having 80 percent 5-star reviews.

Role of digital media for promotion

Hosts’ Perspective

From the host’s viewpoint, the digital media has connected them directly with the customers without going through an intermediary partner. The visitors get in touch with the hosts through Instagram and Facebook, direct from their website or by calling them directly. The owners of the farmstay are quite active on their social media accounts that helps them in sharing the day-to-day stories at the farm. The email and online messaging platforms like WhatsApp and FB messenger has facilitated prescheduling the itinerary of the guests. The hosts send the prospective visitors a welcome mailer outlining the activities that they can engage in while at the farm. The guests can choose in advance from different activities that include the forest garden tour, the earth (barefoot) walk in forests, viewing the sunrise, birdwatching, hiking, cycling, running in the Senchel Wildlife Forest Reserve. The online booking platforms helps in the guest bookings and making online payment. According to the hosts, guest reviews have pushed them to No. 1 ranked Speciality Lodging in Darjeeling and No 7 ranked hill station lodgings in India on TripAdvisor. This has helped bring down the marketing costs to minimum as it draws in new interested clients who are influenced by the rankings. The farmstay has accommodated over 500 guests in the past three years. A major part of the review from customers has been positive. However, since it is a niche destination, the hosts have added a word of caution in their website and social media accounts to visitors to make informed decision since living a simple rural life in a forest farm with no fancy gadgets or television and low network reception is not meant for everyone. The hosts believe that there are a few difficulties of promoting a holiday destination through digital media. The most prominent one is the swiftness with which changes come about in digital platforms. New features are added in the blink of an eye and one has to be alert in order to keep pace with the new developments. One needs to spend a considerable amount of time understanding how the platform works and then in ensuring that their online profile has a good portfolio. It’s a constant process of learning and upgrading as the changes happen rapidly in the online platforms. Speedy internet connectivity and high network reception are a pre-requisite for promoting holiday destinations through digital media. Sometimes low reception and technical glitches slow down or totally stop internet connectivity. This poses a problem for ventures like Tieedi that are totally dependent on digital media for correspondence with prospective visitors.  

Visitors’ Perspective

A total of five guests who were from Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Kolkata, Maharashtra and Hyderabad were interviewed for the study. All of them are tech-savvy individuals who rely on online mediums to scout for holiday destinations, make bookings and payments. Most of them

are nature lovers who prefer secluded places in the lap of nature than commercial destinations.  

The references they depended on before booking the place were Tieedi’s website, social media pages, travelogues, personal blogs, travel websites like Airbnb,, Tripoto, TripAdvisor and The factors that made them come to Tieedi were the strong reviews that lauded the hosts’ commitment, eco-sensitivity, sustainability practices and responsibility towards the community. The information provided by the hosts, photos of the forest and mud structures further reinforced their decision to visit Tieedi.  The visitors recounted customized search, availability of enough information, multiple choices ranging from best to the worst, opportunity to assess the destination through pictures, reviews and effective communication are some of the facilities provided by digital platforms. In case of Tieedi, they were of the opinion that the pictures posted, constant updates on social media and strong recommendations gave them a confidence about the place. Moreover, communication with the hosts via messenger, WhatsApp, email and direct telephonic conversations strengthened their trust. However, they admitted that in some cases the reality of the destination is different than what is being showcased in the digital media platforms. As far as Tieedi is concerned, the guests unanimously agreed that the place is even better than it has been depicted online. One gets to discover even more when they actually visit the place. The disadvantage of promoting niche destinations online, they believed is that it runs the risk of overexposure. Unlike commercial destinations, such places are meant for tourists who prefer offbeat holiday sites. Once exposed to the world visitors start flocking in great numbers, concrete structures start to come up, makeshift shops and eateries gather, robbing the place of its original charm. In their opinion Tieedi, located in a forest has not taken away anything from the place. The structures that have been built are minimalist — constructed with the help of natural resources like bamboo, mud, straw.  In fact, the hosts have enhanced the forest cover through reforestation drives, restoration of mineral spring and clearing the premises of plastic waste.        

Sometimes the reality of the destination is different than what is being showcased on the digital media platforms. The guests have strongly recommended the place to future travellers through social media sites, travel websites and personal blogs.

Case Study 2 — Petrichor Farms


Petrichor is a volunteer-based permaculture farm that also operates as an eco-education centre and houses a yoga studio. Started in an ancestral property, it is situated at Lower Fagu tea estate in Gorubathan in Kalimpong district and is a community-based venture that involves the local farmers. As living responsibly and sustainably is the main goal of hosts Sweta Pradhan and Sidhartha Blone, they have precise guidelines for visitors who wish to stay in the farm to experience typical rural life in contact with nature. In fact, the hosts are eager to accommodate only like-minded visitors who share an interest in ecological sustainability that aims at conserving nature and reducing negative impact on it. The farming practices are regenerative — enriching the natural resources while using them for cultivation. The farm stay accommodations run majorly on solar energy. Honey harvesting from the local apiary, preparing probiotics, pickles, jams, sauces and dried food products for sale are activities other than farming. The eco-education centre provides workshops on building sustainable handicrafts, permaculture, yoga, cooking local cuisines and nature camp activities for students of schools and other educational institutions, volunteer groups and corporate groups.


The farm offers accommodation in two earthen huts made of mud, bamboo, straw and stones that insulate from both heat and cold, tents for those who prefer it, an antique Nepali home that has been restored and a dormitory for backpackers and solo travellers. A yoga deck, natural pool, library and studio to conduct workshops on natural building, soap making and herbalism.

Food offered is vegetarian and prepared from seasonal vegetables and herbs grown in the farm. As the aim is to give the visitors a taste of the local cuisine, food is cooked in earthen chulhas in a rustic kitchen.  

Guidelines for visitors

  • Single-use plastic items like junk food plastic, pet bottles and the like are not allowed in the premises.
  • Footwear not allowed in the naturally built structures.
  • Littering is not allowed especially of plastic and non-biodegradables.
  • It is a drug and alcohol free zone.
  • No room service. Self-help is encouraged.
  • Loud noise is prohibited after 8pm.
  • Guests can volunteer at the farm that will result in reduced boarding charges.  

Community-based activities

The village schools are included in forest school programs and farm workshops alongside with visiting schools. Petrichor Farms conducts regular waste management awareness workshops with members of the adjacent and nearby villages. Dustbins to segregate biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste have been provided to the households and they bring the waste to the farm to be recycled. Composting is another activity that the villagers are encouraged to participate in. Villagers have been employed as full-timers on monthly wage basis and part-timers as and when they volunteer in the farm. The farm engages in collective farming of organic vegetables and other natural products with the villagers and markets them in Siliguri — a major market for the local produce. In all, the farm practices responsible tourism that covers environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspect.

Presence in different media platforms

The farm has been featured in magazines Agriculture World/Krishi Jagaran — largest circulated rural magazine published in 12 languages — and Outlook India. It has been featured in Jiyo Bangla, a Bengal-based news portal and Volunteer World, an online platform that enables volunteers to connect with socially responsible projects around the globe.

The hosts have ensured a good online media presence for the farm that include their website, Facebook page Petrichor, Instagram account @petrichorfarmskitchenstudio and Airbnb account. The place has got overall ratings ranging from 4.5 to 5 in Google and in travel website companies Tripadvisor and Makemytrip.   

Role of digital media for promotion of the farm stay

Hosts’ perspective

From the perspective of the hosts’, media especially digital media has been good in promotion of the farm stay. The digital technology has facilitated direct interaction between hosts and guests. However, they don’t encourage rampant tourism and candidly screen all visitors by handing out an online questionnaire guideline that they have to fill up. Only if prospective visitors are compatible with living in a rural farm setting they are asked to come. If communication had been through a tour operator, such guidelines would have been lost in transmission from the host to the guests. The displacement of tour operators by online platforms have also brought about a transparency in terms of facilities offered by the farmstay and the tariff charged. Elaborate coverage in magazines and blogs has helped spread a good word about the sustainable farming practices of the place. The hosts feel that feedback and reviews from visitors through Petrichor’s online platforms are important as it helps to know what the visitors feel about the destination — both good and bad. This helps them to redress problems if any and also keep a tab on the reputation of the destination. In a nutshell, a larger audience can be reached at low cost and at the convenience of both the hosts and the guests.  

However, the hosts are of the opinion that there is a downside to communicating via digital media. The most prominent disadvantage is that of many destinations who are not in reality practicing sustainable living, mislead as they promote themselves as one through digital platforms. This ruins the credibility of the handful few ventures like Petrichor that truly practice sustainable living. Although digital media has been a boon as far as workplace versatility and larger audience is concerned, authenticity and originality are amiss in the digital world.

If positive reviews of the destination have helped soar the popularity, a negative review does some damage. Such reviews have arisen mostly due to misconception of the term farm stay. Even though some guests from urban locations come to Petrichor after looking at the pictures and reading reviews, on arrival they are not able to adjust to the rural settings. The farm stay does not offer urban benefits of hotels and lodges because it would negate the entire purpose of living simply. This is where the advantage of human contact is felt. Rather than depending solely on the virtual references, personal contact and offline word-of-mouth should also be taken into consideration. Balance is the key which can be attained by using technology to your advantage and not let technology use you.

Visitors’ perspective

Altogether five guests were interviewed for the study and they were from Mumbai, Kolkata and Sikkim. All the guests interviewed for the study had come to know about Petrichor through online platforms and booked it by getting in touch directly with the hosts through contact numbers provided in the Facebook page and website. They were visitors who preferred unconventional tourist destinations that provide a learning experience rather than over-hyped crowded locations. The pictures of the farm and information provided in the website and social media pages were convincing enough to persuade them to holiday in the farm. As far as holiday behaviour is concerned, all the five guests go on vacations once or twice a year. They exclusively use online platforms to scout locations and make bookings. The guests believe it is convenient, saves cost and time and allows them to choose from a range of destination after comparing tariffs and facilities provided.  

However, they admit that in general there were risks associated with online booking as to whether or not the destination is as it has been showcased online. In case of Petrichor, they were of the opinion that nothing was exaggerated and the hosts were upfront in spelling out the simplicity of the rural setting. There was no attempt to influence the guests and the decision to visit Petrichor was left on the guests after providing them with guidelines. In fact, some guests feel that in terms of publicity of the farm, the hosts are selective and keep it low-key by choice. They suggest, that since the place is so good it should allow more exposure for itself thereby providing opportunities for like-minded visitors to experience the place. All of the five guests have provided positive online reviews and shared pictures of their visit through sites like, Airbnb, social media like Facebook and Instagram. They have mentioned the warm hospitality of hosts, friendly locals, authentic local food and unique experience of staying in earthen huts, the yoga and painting sessions and permaculture workshop.

In effect, friends and acquaintances were impressed by the farm and have expressed a desire to visit it. As far as suggestions for improvement goes, the guests feel that adjusting to rural life entails some difficulties for people who are used to fast-paced urban life. Nonetheless, including hotel-like services would rob the place of its essence.        

Final Comments

Comprehensive case studies of the two farm stays revealed that majority of the people rely on digital media for tourism-related activities right from scouting locations, booking them and making payments. In India, the concept of responsible tourism started more than a decade back and stakeholders are consciously adopting the principles of sustainability. In Darjeeling hills, it has just taken off and there are only a handful of people in the tourism industry who have adopted it in true sense. The two farm stays in the study are among the pioneers of sustainable living. Therefore, an effective communication strategy comprising digital media is essential to help them soar higher. The study revealed that the hosts of the two farmstays have aptly used web pages, social media and online travel platforms to showcase the sustainable activities in their respective farms. As it is a unique concept, the farms have caught the eye of traditional media that has led to elaborate coverage in newspapers and magazines. This has brought about recognition of the good work subsequently leading to influx of visitors who want to spend time there. Majority of the bookings are done on the web either through Facebook or online travel companies. Yet, hosts claim that offbeat destinations like theirs are not everyone’s cup of tea.

Such places cater to niche audience as opposed to mass audience. They have mentioned it explicitly in their respective online platforms that visitors should come only if they can follow stipulated guidelines of responsible living. But with the success stories of the two farmstays circulated rapidly through the Internet, tourism stakeholders in Darjeeling hills will be inspired to adopt responsible tourism.


Bhutia, S. (2015). Sustainable Tourism Development in Darjeeling Hills of West Bengal: Issues & Challenges. Global Journal of Human Social Science.

Camilleri, M. (2017). The Promotion of Responsible Tourism Management Through Digital Media. Tourism Planning and Development.

Hashem Mohammed Ghaleb Saeed, D. G. (2018). Challenges of Social Media in Tourism Management. International Journal of Business Management Invention, 45-47.

JH Akash, D. I. (2018). Role of Digital Media in Ecotourism-A Study Among Tourists of Kanyakumari Distict . International Journal of Arts, Humanities and Management Studies, 15-27.

(1987). Our Common Future. World Commission on Environment and Development.

Puja Mahesh, A. K. (2016). Role of Media in Promotion of Sustinable Tourism: An Exploratory Study of Sikkim. The Researcher- International Journal of Management Humanities and Social Sciences .

Stephen Litvin, R. E. (2008). Electronic Word-of-Mouth in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Tourism Management.

The Cape Town Declaration. (2002). International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations . Cape Town.