THERE are many reasons why the Caribbean is among the preferred destinations for tourists and travellers alike, but its appeal is not only limited to the sea, sun and sand.
In this small space that is T&T one can experience greater cultural, societal, historical, religious and environmental diversity than anywhere else in the region.
What do you do with all the diversity that is bursting at the seams, figuratively speaking? If you’re anything like Jalaludin Khan, you would explore it and maybe even shout its glory from the rooftops.
Using the technical expertise he has gained in his previous incarnations as an art director, environmental manager, consultant, programme director and researcher in the private and public sectors, Khan began ‘Indiversity Group’ a little over 20 years ago. His intention was to incorporate our diverse culture, history, heritage and nature into hikes and specialty tours by land, water and air.
Khan’s tours do more than simply skim the surface; rather, they offer persons immersive experiences where they go to the very heart of our culture and heritage. For instance, his food tours to Debe aren’t complete without a dive into the origin of doubles, and tours to historical mandirs and mosques include input from imams and pundits who share the basic principles of their religious beliefs. Khan also partners with communities and others who are well versed in their fields so that his clients get an informative rather than a one-sided lesson.
“Travellers are in search of experiences and Indiversity tours provides that from a consulting point of view, we provide a tour guide service where we do half-day tours, full day and night tours, boating, driving and even air tours,” says Khan who has worked at all levels of the tourism and hospitality industry.
Indiversity’s tours are divided into themes including festivities, history, food and even folklore. Tours are also customised for corporate companies seeking team building activities and for persons interested in wellness, yoga and spiritual experiences.
“One of the tours we offer is a heritage drive through Port of Spain which includes visits to the National Museum and the Botanic Gardens. We close off the day by having lunch at Fort George with a whole view of the city and the Gulf of Paria where we make the link that we are part of the South American mainland, you could actually see the Venezuela peninsula a few miles away from Trinidad,” says Khan.
culture of others
As an advocate for responsible tourism, Khan also uses his tours to emphasise the importance of incorporating sustainable practices in our everyday lives.
“We want to give people something different, to take them on an exploration within themselves. We take our clients to artists’ studios because not many people have actually seen an artist at work, we also go to herbalists to learn about bush medicine and we also go to the First Peoples Indigenous Community where we learn about their culture,” says Khan.
Khan grew up in Port of Spain; his parents shared an appreciation for T&T’s culture and heritage. He remembers sitting on his grandmother’s lap as a child and listening intently while she dispensed vignettes of the ‘ole time’ days and spoke of the value of customs and traditions - many of which have taken a back seat to the foreign culture we have imported from the US. It became Khan’s desire to keep those traditions alive for tourists both local and foreign. He became a green planning and sustainable development professional and has received several local and international awards for environmental, public and artistic service. He has also worked with international agencies like the European Commission.
Since the pandemic has put many travel plans on hold until countries feel comfortable opening up their borders once again, these present circumstances offer locals the opportunity to explore their own country. Having worked in the cruise line and tour operating industry for decades, Khan agrees that foreigners have seen and experienced places in T&T which many locals have yet to discover.
“It hurts me to learn that so many locals do not know much about what we have here. We have to accept that we are diverse; we are not separated by colour, class and walls and once we accept how diverse we are, then we will protect and take care of that diversity by means of our sanitation and safety practices,” says Khan. “Society should invest in experiencing their local culture and not limit themselves to Maracas Bay, Caura river, Mayaro beach and the lighthouse. I want to challenge people to go to a deeper level. Go for spiritual, educational and environmental travel experiences.”
For more info on tours contact Jalaludin Khan on WhatsApp at 743-1604 or by e-mail: email@example.com.