Indian travelers are increasingly looking for experiences that allow them to connect with local cultures, discover new learnings, and create lasting memories.
Moving away from mundane heritage walks, Eesha Singh, co-founder of No Footprints, brings a new take to storytelling through tour experiences.
With 35 experiences in Mumbai and Delhi, No Footprints aims to highlight neglected conversations about culture, people and communities.
“Instead of making history sound boring, we wanted to be humorous when we started our journey in tourism. We wanted to look at storytelling from the lens of a standup comedy and ensure that a city is understood well in a couple of hours,” Singh told Skift’s Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia in the latest episode of the Skift India Travel Podcast.
Launching with the “Mumbai by Dawn” tour in 2014, the company later developed community-focused tours around Parsis, East Indians and the indigenous Koli fishing community in the city.
Some of its prominent tours are:
- Mumbai by Dawn: Starting at 5 a.m., these tours explore the inner workings of the city — from newspaper and milk delivery to fishing, fruit and vegetable distribution. “Mumbai is best experienced at dawn, right before the chaos sets in,” said Singh.
- Queer Day Out: Usually led by a queer tour activist, this tour maps out the journey of queer history in the country. “When we launched this tour, people were confusing queer tours with queer-friendly tours,” Singh said. “And so we needed people to understand queer narratives, queer history and queer subculture.”
- Refugee Food Tour: These tours help travelers understand how international communities are reclaiming their identities through food. Singh spoke of how celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor did a whole tour with them in Delhi to understand the capital’s refugee community.
Earlier in April, No Footprints hosted celebrities and curated tours for actors Tom Holland and Zendaya, model Gigi Hadid, and chef Nigella Lawson on their visit to Mumbai.
New Habits of the Indian Traveler
Indian travelers are now more keen on experiences than simply ticking off an items on a bucket list.
“When we launched our experiential tours, we were not sure if the domestic traveler would take them on. But we have observed a heightened interest among them to seek for experiences beyond food and drink in a city,” said Singh.
The company recently conducted a foraging workshop and worked with The Bombay Natural History Society to understand wildlife conservation.
Pre-pandemic, No Footprints was catering to the inbound market.
“We’ve been lucky to be at the right place at the right time. As the local audience had no access to travel outside of their city, we started doing a lot of backyard tourism which encouraged people to become tourists in their own backyards, to explore and reconnect with places very close to home,” said Singh.
Additionally, the company started offering immersive workshop-led tours during weekends for the domestic traveler and also engaged with schools to make integrations into the curriculum that enables students to learn more about their city.
“In a way, domestic travelers’ changing travel preferences aligned perfectly with our offering post-Covid,” she said.
Photo credit: No Footprints launched operations with the ‘Mumbai by Dawn’ tour in 2014. Pictured is the Sassoon Dock in Mumbai. Pratik Patil / Unsplash