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Rising Star Tours & Travels is helping visually impaired people experience the magic of new places

Travelling is an experience that requires considerable planning. The best laid plans can fall apart if there a change of weather or delay in flights/trains, a factor that tends to put off many blind and low vision people from planning a holiday. Something Amit Jain is trying to address by organizing tours exclusively for people with vision impairments.

Jain, founder of Rising Star Tours & Travels, a Delhi-based company, has organized three such trips since December last year and is planning the fourth in May.

Our first trip was to Pangot, in Uttarakhand, a life- changing experience for me. The outcome and response was so fantastic and it gave me such tremendous happiness that I have taken a pledge to change the lives of at least one thousand visually impaired people a year through travel. Within a short span of time of nine months we have done three trips. - Amit Jain, Founder, Rising Star Tours & Travels

Jain aims to create a platform where people with visual impairments can overcome their fears and can travel. "I realized that when people think of the visually impaired community, they think of food, clothes, etc., not so much travel. That's why I started this initiative. I also felt that travel can help the community overcome confidence issues.

The May trip to Corbett is likely to have 70 people signing up, a sizeable jump from the first three. Shubham Gupta, a State Bank of India employee based in New Delhi has been on two trips and plans to go to Corbett as well.

"There are plenty of sighted volunteers accompanying us, which is really good. Like in the trip to Jaipur and Rishikesh, there were 15-20 sighted volunteers for a group of 40. This way we could enjoy all the experiences like Ganga aarti, camel riding and horse riding without missing out on anything.

Gupta says the winning factor for him is the concept of inclusion and the idea of exploring the world without sight.

The trips are generally priced at between Rs 2,500-3,000 per head, including travel, accommodation, and food. Jain is determined to keep the costs low, so the trips are accessible to all. "I have been fortunate to get support from friends and family. Resorts offer us lower rates and many people are coming forward to support such a good cause. In any case, the cost was never in mind and we always knew we would make it.

Jain claims he is getting requests from people across India and hopes to reach wider audiences with the support of organizations like National Association for the Blind (NAB) and the All India Confederation for the Blind. Going by the glowing recommendations from past customers, his venture looks set to be a big success.

Jyoti Malik, who works with Radio Udaan, the online community radio managed by people with visual disabilities, went for the trip to Jaipur last year. "It is wonderful to travel with people who face similar challenges because you feel comfortable and blend in. The cost factor is low, which is a bonus. Gupta agrees. "The accommodation is three-or-four-star and the quality of food is very good too. I am motivating people to sign up for the next trip.

The best part is the attitude says Meenakshi Chaturvedi, who has been a part of two trips so far. "There is no discrimination felt and we were taken for every experience and made to feel included. The attitude was so positive.

If you want to sign up for the next trip or know more, email Amit Jain at amitrstt@gmail.com or call him at 98111 41952.

ALSO READ:Say hello to Bat Travels, the agency that wants to make travel fun for blind people!

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