This profile was prepared when Roland Martins was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
Roland's idea is based on the belief that tourism should respect the rights of local communities and be a strong force in providing livelihoods for them. In Goa, 20 percent of the local population earns income directly through tourism, and many more people depend on the industry indirectly. However, less than 15 percent of the state's annual tourism revenue feeds back into the local economy. Roland is organizing small service providers into professional trade associations that will allow them to pool collective strategies, professionalize their services, and build visibility as a united trade group. Members will unite to understand the local and large-scale operations of tourism, build better access to capital, upgrade their business skills, and create marketing vehicles to maintain customer bases and capture new ones. More importantly, the trade associations will give them the bargaining power they need to work with local governments, lobby for beneficial trade regulations, and oppose policies that threaten not only their businesses, but also Goa's unique texture of life, culture, and environment that is the main reason that tourists travel there.While his clients, the small service providers, develop strong trade bases, Roland will build the "social infrastructure" needed to secure broad citizen support for them. Since these local service providers are rooted in their communities, he will try to educate different parts of society, specifically middle class consumers, the consumer rights movement, and local governments. Because tourism affects local populations, governance, and consumption patterns, he hopes to make all these groups aware of the importance of responsible tourism policies and practices. After consolidating his idea's development in Goa, Roland plans to launch an India-wide movement to spread his model to other tourist destinations where the government has begun erecting tourism zones. He aims to connect with like-minded groups and civil society organizations across Southeast Asia, where there have been similar problems caused by tourism. Ultimately, Roland hopes to forge a "South-South" alliance of small service providers and international practitioners involved in tourism to exchange expertise, experiences, and solutions.