Why Are These Women Promoting Tourism In Bihar?
After reading insensitive text written about her state, Sukriti Roy, 25, co-founded Bihar Bytes to promote tourism in Bihar. “Bihar is full of interesting historical locations that tourists would want to visit,” she says as she recalls the journey of what led her to become an entrepreneur
What went into the making of Bihar Bytes?
My friend Yashi Malviya and I founded Bihar Bytes in 2018. We had the idea in mind since 2016 and had been working towards the establishment of the startup since then.
Yashi and I are media graduates. The whole idea about having a platform to promote tourism in Bihar came when we were employed with BBC. BBC had come to Bihar for a shoot. I was the research journalist for the job. During my job, I travelled to various places in Bihar. Saw a lot of locations I had not heard of, despite being a Bihari. Post the shoot in Bihar, we also went to other cities such as Benaras.
When I saw the various tourist locations there, I realized Bihar was no less. Only the locations of Bihar were not promoted the way sites of other cities were promoted. Bihar is full of interesting historical locations that the tourists would love to learn about. But people hardly know about them. Only a few names such as Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, etc were popular. I realized Bihar is not being promoted the way it should be. The state is not seen as a travel destination.
During the same time, Yashi and I happened to read two of the popular travel magazines which had carried articles with some insensitive text on Bihar. They conveyed the message that it was an unsafe state for children and that people couldn’t speak good English...all that they wrote reflected poorly on the state. That was when Yashi and I decided that we needed to promote tourism in Bihar in the manner it deserved. That was the birth of Bihar Bytes.
(Also Read - How A Career In Tourism Can Take You Places)
Why do you say that the tourism of Bihar needs to be promoted better?
During my village tours, I have come across so many tourist attractions which are similar to tourist spots in other states. Take, for instance, the hill-top Rohtasgarh fort in Sasaram (a city in Bihar). The fort is equivalent to Chittorgarh fort in Rajasthan yet it has no visitors.
While Chittorgarh sees tourists even from abroad. Similarly, there is a waterfall in a remote location of Bihar, which is similar to a popular waterfall destination in Bengaluru. Ironically, everybody visits the waterfall in Bengaluru but nobody even knows about the one in Bihar.
How did the idea of young girls turning entrepreneurs go down with the people around you?
Oh, Patna didn’t receive us with a warm welcome. Everybody we knew were unhappy. Parents weren't appreciable of the fact that we wanted to turn entrepreneurs. They thought it was challenging because we were girls, especially in a state like Bihar. A lot of people would question us as to what we were upto? We were out of college and of an age where we ideally should have been earning money.
I remember my parents would ask their friends and family to call and tell us,
"Beta yeh sab mat karo...aisa nahi hain ke aapke hi promote karne se Bihar ka tourism better ho jayega..."
We kept receiving advice from well-wishers around us asking us to drop the idea, but we remained determined.
Are there any challenges that you both face now?
Yes. Primarily, it is the lack of enough money. Especially when we have to travel to remote villages to document information about that particular place, it requires money. Recently, Yashi and I visited a village with two of the company’s interns. Travelling to places cost money. So far, the barter system of business comes to help.
How do you promote the state?
Our website Bihar Bytes includes various sections that talk about the locations of the state. We are creating documents about the various tourist sites that include complete information about the location including how to get there, when is the best time to visit the site, et al. There are live videos and pictures as well.
We also carry out campaigns to promote tourism here. In today’s world, Influencers play an important role. We conduct influencer marketing as well.
Bihar Bytes works as a platform to have an access to Bihar in various ways, with the primary focus being on tourism in the state. If the tourism of the state gets better, the economy will also get better.
How do you acquire the required information?
We travel to remote villages and interact with the locals there to understand the culture, history, and geography of that place. We collect information by visiting the remote locations of Bihar and interacting with the locals. Unless we personally carry out tours in these little-known places of the state, we may not learn about sites to be promoted.
Once we collect the information, we upload them as documents on the website (this one particular feature is on its way to make an entry on the website).
Where did you get the investment to start the venture?
After Yashi and I graduated, we started to earn our money. When we were working with BBC, we were paid really well. We invested that money into starting the venture. Additionally, we offered our writing services to various avenues to earn more.
We did face scarcity of money. 'Jugaad' was the trick we used. We use this trick to manage work even now. When we travel to remote places, we find sponsors to fund our travel cost and in return, we promote them through our work.
Are you able to generate revenues now?
Yes, we are. Right now, the primary means of generating revenue is through the means of advertisements that we publish on the website. Going ahead, we may devise other methods as well.
To read more such inspiring stories of female entrepreneurs taking up kickass initiatives watch out for our next article tomorrow.
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