Meet Riaan Jacob George, The T+L Champion Of Local Travel

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Travel+Leisure India & South Asia revealed its second set of T+L Champions at India’s Best Awards 2023. From travel content creators and entrepreneurs to hoteliers and interior designers, these 12 individuals are making waves in their fields. One such trailblazer who is redefining travel is the T+L Champion of Local Travel. Meet content creator Riaan Jacob George.

Excerpts from the interview with Riaan Jacob George

T+L India: How does it feel to be recognised as the Champion of Local Travel?

Riaan Jacob George: It feels amazing; all those 5 am wake-up calls to go out shooting on the streets of different Indian cities seem worth it now. The [recognition] is a great way to show the industry that hospitality brands and destination content can go hand in hand.

T+L India: What does a shoot day in your life look like?

Riaan Jacob George: Honestly, I am very calm and well-organised. And I have a great video team with me, so it’s a zero-stress workday and on autopilot [mode]. I just show up on the day, well planned, and enjoy the experience, while the cameraman records it. And one thing that’s always in my head on shoot day is ‘Where’s my next coffee?’

T+L India: What was your inspiration behind bringing India’s untold stories to the forefront?

Riaan Jacob George: Since my college days, I’ve been obsessed with Mughal culture and architecture, so it wasn’t surprising that I delved deep and made content surrounding this. I’ve also loved wearing Indian clothes from different states, so I’ve been inspired to go to these places and discover them through great content. And of course, Bollywood songs. In my head, I’m always in an aesthetic setting, singing a Bollywood song.

T+L India: You also involve local stakeholders in your explorations. How does that shape your experiences?

Riaan Jacob George: It is the most important aspect of any local content. I work closely with local experience curators, local influencers, guides, entrepreneurs, or designers, who have the right leads and give me a good perspective of their city.

T+L India: How does local travel change you?

Riaan Jacob George: I think it’s a great feeling to be able to invest in your tourism economy. As much as I love Paris and Singapore, I feel we need to be spending more of our tourist dollars within our country. That thought has transformed me. Also, the thought that India is so much more than Goa and Jaipur; I have been transformed by places like Lucknow, Pahalgam, Srinagar, Bhopal, Kodaikanal, and Thiruvananthapuram.

T+L India: What are your upcoming travel plans?

Riaan Jacob George: I’m in a revisiting phase. I have no real ambition to see any new places but want to go back to places I love, and enjoy slow travel there. I would love to spend a couple of days in Kolkata, Srinagar, Bhopal, or Udaipur. I would love to spend some time in my home state, Kerala, which I know so little of. And maybe do more road trips this year.

Champion’s Choice

An Indian state you would retire in: Kerala
An overrated travel trend: Exploring Japan

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