Sustainable Tourism- A Tour for Development
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TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
The world tourism day celebrates the advent of travel and trade. The 2017 theme was- International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development
Sustainable tourism means it takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. But today it is most important challenge of mankind to have tourism which is sustainable as well as a tool for development.
In development terms, tourism contributes 10.2% GDP of the world and for the minimum amount of Rs.10 lakh investments, 90 jobs in the world for tourism is generated. However, along with great development aspirations about tourism, there is a need to look at how it is sustainable for it has
- Environmental concerns
- Culture concerns
- Natural resources concern
- Concerns about how it is beneficial for local population without scattering natural resources
The entire ambit of tourism is very warm and India has a very diverse realm right from geological tourism to cultural tourism. The Indian tourism has diversity of domestic tourists who share and exchange own cultural experiences and foreign tourists who have their own set of expectations from Indian tourism. International component in tourism is a big revenue generator as more and more people tour places for relaxation, enhance their own understanding of a country and its culture.
People visit a place to explore and understand its culture because every country has its unique distinct culture. Within the country diverse like India, every corner has a different culture. So it is necessary to address the challenges of tourism responsibly. The tourists find various options in tourism in India like adventure tourism, rural tourism, geological tourism, wildlife tourism, medical tourism etc.
When it comes to adventure tourism India has tremendous potential- mountains, beaches, riverside, forests etc. Now there is a need to build the infrastructure and have proper human resource to develop and promote the tourism industry at these places. Likewise, culture tourism, pilgrimage tourism are segments which can also be developed.
There should not be boundaries created between cultures at all times instead there should be integration of different realms of tourism. In rural tourism, there is now home stay tourism as well as natural tourism where a person gets to see the ethos of the rural society, the fabric of the rural society, their custom, and their traditions and at the same time may be agricultural varieties and avian population that might have flocked to the region. There can be possibility of geological tourism at the same time. India has many national geological monuments but they are hardly visited.
The locals should be given the responsibility of the tourism sustenance. They need to be well aware of prowess of their heritage and in what way they can cater to the tourist. This has been lacking to a great extent which needs to be now concentrated upon. This will preserve the heritage, the tourist spot as well as generate means of employment. Thus, there has to be integrated tourism plan.
Participation of communities in sustainable tourism
Tourism benefits the local population because it has to be economically viable and stainable and also socially it must be acceptable. The community is benefiting out of tourism and it is getting aware of tourist potentials for them. The government of India has come up with Hunar Se Rozgar scheme under this, capacity of building for service providers has contemplated programs under various heads to consolidate human resource for the adventure tourism sector. Once these people are skilled they can effectively address the requirement of the tourist.
There are many heritage buildings for whose sustenance, Adopt a Heritage project has been announced. The project plans to entrust heritage sites/monuments and other tourist sites to private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals for the development of tourist amenities. This is delegating the responsibility to the real stake holders as the people need to know the ways of maintenance and also of disseminating information.
This issue of maintenance or rather safe guarding of monuments from increased influx of tourists necessitates awareness among the tourist and there are certain critical things which tourist per se cannot make out and it needs to be educated at the spot. For this, guides and proper instructions are necessities. Also, there can be theme based activities to attract tourists to historical places. For example, Khajurahu dance festival.
Sustainable tourism and environment
Environment is linked to sustainable tourism because protection of environment is very important component of tourism. Increasing foot falls creates pressure on the local resources and contributes to rising pollution- noise, dirt and litter. Tourism is important for the economic development but it also concerns the environment in terms of environmental pollution and controlling it.
Tourists like to stay in areas where abundant natural resources are found- Andaman beaches, the corals of Andaman and Lakshadweep island, Siachen or the Leh or the corridors of valley of flowers in Dehradun. Increased inflow to natural areas adds pressure on ecology and may upset the balance.
However, in the places like Lakshadweep there is a certain ceiling all tourist inflow which reduces the threat to natural resources. In Andamans too, there are many guidelines as to how the tourist should move around. There are several places where tourist are not at all allowed (ancient tribe habitations) taking cognisance of virgin islands getting damaged.
Also, though considered adventures, activities like animal safaris should be done with protection and caution so as to not disturb the natural habitat of the animals. This will help the country to sustain its wildlife as well as continue to attract tourists.
Sustainable tourism simply means that the people living next to a resource are the ones best suited to protecting it. The tourism activities and businesses are developed and operated by local community members, with their consent and support. UNESCO which has just come out with its own guidelines where it talks about tourism which is one of the fastest growing industries. However like other forms of development, tourism can also cause its share of problem such as social dislocation, loss of culture heritage, economy dependence and ecological degradations. People have started visiting more places of recent but it should be constantly kept in mind that while having fun, the ecology of the area is not disturbed.
Connecting the dots:
- ‘Sustainable tourism’ has the potential to overtake ‘mainstream tourism’. Critically analyse.