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Our Model

We believe that tourism can and should be a force for local development. Reality Tours is a social business that uses a profit sharing model to fund our sister-NGO Reality Gives. Eighty percent of our post-tax profits go directly to Reality Gives which runs high quality education programs in areas where Reality Tours works.

 

Spreading the Model

We started over a decade ago in Dharavi and we are now using the same model for local development in New Delhi in the Sanjay Colony slum. We also consult with tour operators around the world to further increase our impact. For example, one of our co-founders, Chris Way, consults with Smokey Tours in Manila, The Philippines, to help them implement the same model.

Transparency

We strongly believe in transparency and accountability. As a result, we publish all of our accounts online.

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Reality Gives

Learn more about Reality Gives, their programs and the other NGO’s that we work with on the Reality Gives website.

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Our Impact

On January 4, 2016 Reality Tours and Travels celebrated 10 years of working here in Dharavi. To mark the occasion, we created a video that looks at the different ways in which we have impacted some of the lives of the tens of thousands of people who have been a part of our story.

As a responsible business, we value all of our stakeholders equally: our local community, our staff, our program participants and our tour guests. Our organisation doesn’t exist purely for our guests on tour or even the students in Reality Gives’ programs. Instead, we place importance on any group that comes in contact with our organisation. By strengthening all of our stakeholders, we strengthen our organisation. This has been the key to our success over the past 10 years and will be the key to our success over the next 10 years.

 

Best Practices

To ensure that our tours are conducted in a sensitive way that respects the privacy and  dignity of the local residents, we have developed a series of best practices for our Dharavi  and Sanjay Colony tours.

1

No Photo Policy

We have a strict no photography policy on all of our tours of Dharavi and Sanjay Colony.

2

Profits Stay in the Community

We use 80% of the profits from our tours and 100% of the profits from merchandise sales to support local education programs in Dharavi and Sanjay Colony through our NGO Reality Gives.

3

Small Groups

Our groups are kept small (6 people maximum) to ensure that our tours are as unobtrusive as possible.

4

Local Guides

We train and employ exclusively local guides who are friendly and speak excellent English. These guides are almost always from underprivileged communities and are thus able to give accurate insight into local life.

5

Dress Code

We have a strict dress code and will turn away any customers dressed in a way that might offend residents (i.e. no tank tops, low-cut shirts, shorts, etc.).

6

Tours on Foot

All of our tours through Dharavi and Sanjay Colony are walking tours.

7

Continuous Communication

We communicate regularly with the community to ensure that there are no issues with the tours. This happens informally as our staff is always in the community and formally through interviews. In 2013, we commissioned a study that interviewed 75 residents along our tour route about the tours and Reality Gives. You can read the entire report here.

8

Involvement of the community

The community is heavily involved in the organisation as guides, teachers, and community and reception centre staff. Sometimes it is difficult to see where the line is between Reality Tours, Reality Gives and the community. Local residents and factory workers have seen the tours, inquired, and become guides. Some staff have worked for both Reality Gives and Reality Tours, or started out in a Reality Gives program. Visitors on our tours come back to volunteer or start a program. Reality Tours staff volunteer for Reality Gives. And the list goes on.

Mission

Our goal is to provide authentic and thought-provoking local experiences through our tours and to use the profits to create change in our communities.

Vision

Our vision is a world where all tourism promotes cross-cultural understanding and local development.

Core Values

At the core of everything we do for our passengers are six fundamental beliefs:

1

Helpfulness

We love India, and we want you to love India too! We're committed to going the extra mile to ensure you have a great experience with us. Our friendly guides are the key, have you met them yet?

2

Reliability

India isn't always entirely predictable - but we are. We make sure we reply quickly to emails, communicate clearly, and turn up on time. It's simple really, we're there for you whenever you need us, whatever you need.

3

Adding Value

We believe that all tours should to add value. Whether it’s providing information you wouldn’t find in a guidebook, seeing in a well-known sight through a different perspective, or unearthing the city's hidden gems, our tours aim to help you get closer, understand better, and experience more.

4

Honesty

We promise to give you advice that is in your best interest (even if it isn't in ours) and we won't sell you anything that you don't want. Our staff are paid fairly and do not rely on tips nor commission. Everything we do is with your best interests at heart.

5

Community

Because of our unique business model, you won't just be seeing places, you'll be supporting them. Eighty percent of our post-tax profits fund Reality Gives, our sister-NGO that supports projects that create positive change in our communities by providing quality Education opportunities. Learn more here.

6

Authenticity

Our aim is to help you really get to know the places you visit. In India, like everywhere else, there are many things to celebrate, but also social issues to address. We want to give you a full and fair picture of this incredibly complex country.

Awards

The reward truly lies in the progress we make towards our mission and the opportunities we provide for our staff and program participants.

We are however humbled to have been given some of the biggest awards in the responsible travel industry, as testament to our commitment to serving our local communities.

2018 Winner

Indian Responsible Tourism Awards,
Best Urban/Neighbourhood Tourism Operator

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2015 Winner

WTTC Tourism for Tommorrow Awards,
Community Award

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2014 Overall Winner

TO DO! Socially Responsible Tourism Award

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2014 Finalist

World Youth and Student Travel Conference,
Social Responsibility Award

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2014 Finalist

Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards,
Best in Community Engagement & Development

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2012 Overall Winner

Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism
Awards

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2012 Best for Poverty Reduction

Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism
Awards

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2011-2017 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

We have received a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor for the past six years - every year that we have been listed on the site!

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Feedback

From International Visitors

“I went on the Sanjay Colony Tour in June 2015. It was an eye opening experience that I would have never had the opportunity to experience if it wasn’t for Reality Tours. It was informative and interesting; a real insight in to how thousands of people live and work in this community under such challenging circumstances.”

via TripAdvisor

From Indian Visitors

“A wonderful insight! This was an excellent tour and we learnt a lot. So much cloth being recycled - even tiny scraps and offcuts..... and the threads! And lots of clothing being made and wholesaled. Tiny alleys, happy people.... biggest problem in the area is water supply - only 30% of the houses have it on tap - others have to collect and carry considerable distances from water tankers. "

via TripAdvisor

From Sanjay Colony Resident

"I am very happy that the Reality Group opened in our community and does work for us. With the help of Reality Gives our community children learn and grow."

- Chander, resident of Sanjay Colony

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