Astrostays is a project under Flagship Theme 1: Sustainable, local socio-economic development through Astronomy.
Astrotourism is a form of tourism that leverages the human fascination towards astronomy and space to generate sustainable livelihood for communities. The main objective of Astrostays is to utilize astronomy as a tool for community development. They are owned and operated by the community, who benefit directly from the revenue gained. With the community at the center, the model goes beyond typical astronomy-based offerings.
Astrostays engages tourists in astronomy, local culture, stories and heritage while travellers live in a homestay. This generates benefits for the rural and remote region that has access to clear night skies.
Conducting night sky watching sessions and homestays for the incoming tourists has enabled communities to create new channels for generating revenue, while along the way fostering sustainable progress in the economy, gender equality, as well as scientific temperament in the region.
In addition to direct income, the project benefitted the community in other ways, leading to a holistic impact.
- Women empowerment: project participants were majority women (since the men in the villages are typically away for work), thus improving employability and employment of women.
- Sustainable tourism: homes of the villagers were converted to homestays which tourists could book online and spend the night in. Staying with a local makes for an experiential holiday as well as promotes cultural exchange. The village itself runs on solar-based microgrid installed by our project partner Global Himalayan Expedition. So the travelers stay is also climate-friendly.
- Revenue generated has been invested back into community and local infrastructure projects such as solar heating and greenhouses.
- Scientific temper: exposure to astronomy and the training slowly led to increased scientific temper and interest in science among the youth, even those not directly involved in the project