The art of presenting heritage walks
The art of presenting heritage walks

Maria Victor, Founder of Make It Happen

The times they are a changing! Tourism is hitting high key notes of experiential travel with cultural heritage increasingly being viewed as an economic asset for destinations. An interest in local history and heritage tourism is ushering in an era of new and eager tourists seeking an escape from conventional vacations. Capitalising on this new wave are locals, environmentalists, influencers and eager experiential travel organisers. "Experience" stands as the third largest segment within the tourism industry! The desire to experience an event has become more powerful than owning something materialistic. Luxurious travel is being outshined by travel that leaves an indelible mark in the memory of enthusiastic seekers. The emphasis is on “seeking what appeals” vis a vis “checking the to-do list.” 

The real time charm of heritage

Museums have a charm with a staged, planned and structured display of heritage while ‘Walking Tours’ bring an opportunity to enjoy heritage in naturally existent cultural spaces. This real-time experience is a strong motivator for creating emotional ties with the place. There is a liveliness honed by senses of smell, sound and touch giving a holistic appeal to heritage. An experience like this transcends time and lingers. Be it a closed space like a gallery or an open space like a bazaar, the curators have to create a balance with their patrons relishing in vibrant heritage while frolicking in the lap of nature. To bring the beauty in the remains of a building through words that touch a chord with the participant is the key.

Heritage walks connect travellers to local communities, create trust and are emotionally engaging. The Fontainhas Heritage Walk in Goa curated by Make It Happen concludes at the home of a renowned local musician, Chico Fonseca, who serenades in Latin, Konkani and the soulful Fado (a Portuguese style of music). An experience like this is unique, special and beautiful in its entirety. 

Inspiring minimalism through storytelling 

Curating experiential travel requires a careful balance of knowledge, responsibility and the delicate art of storytelling. When carefully crafted, these travels encourage the traveller in subtle ways to seek a certain simplicity and minimalism in the urban settings, even when their travels are done. The narrative must be carefully crafted to give a positive message while nurturing a progressive outlook, by showcasing inspiring works, embracing evolving cultures that are inclusive in approach and eliminate harmful ideologies like casteism, regionalism and gender biases.

Nurturing responsible tourists 

Heritage walks bring to the surface the challenges present towards conserving heritage in an era of fast globalisation and modernisation. It is the moral responsibility of experiential travel organisers to encourage travellers to question their lifestyle choices and thus encourage involvement with their surroundings and understand the threat of over consumeristic societies.

‘Chronicles and Echoes of Divar Island’ a curated tour by Make it Happen, provides an authentic village experience showcasing traditional fishing methods that are still practiced, and bread that is still baked in a traditional wood-fired oven. Such experiences connect travellers to the old-world charm of village life, bringing in a sense of contentment, showcasing how little is needed to comfortably sustain ourselves.  

A novel era of new age jobs

Experiential travel industry is paving the path for youth recognising the thriving talent in our streets and creating a plethora of new age job opportunities. Success of experiential travel comes from presenters who relate to the land, monuments and history through more than what books and pamphlets can teach. This knowledge comes from a deep sense of belonging, a passion for storytelling and cross-cultural understanding. This paves way for prospective work opportunities that are not mere means to an end, but in fact a collection of inspired young minds putting their native and contemporary knowledge and eager minds to the best that there is. Such opportunities are being created by the likes of Make It Happen, through the art of curating travel that is not just experiential, but also responsible—a responsibility that transcends the singular interest of profit-making to a broader aspect of humanitarian success.

Maria Victor, the Founder of Make It Happen, is a Management Accountant by profession but a traveller by passion. She realised that the Goa she grew up in was changing and its image as a travel destination was restricted to the ‘sun, sand, beer, casino’ narrative. She realised that if this narrative were to change, travellers needed to learn about local culture from the locals themselves. She formed a team of young travel enthusiasts and launched Make It Happen in 2014 as an experiential travel company that specialises in curating heritage trails and cultural experiences conducted by local presenters.