Environmental problems facing the world today are of such magnitude that urgent action needs to be taken at the highest levels, to counter this fatal degradation. But we have been told time and again that every bit counts. It is not just enough for governments or organizations to work for / towards sustainable development – every individual, every neighborhood and every community has to come forward, contribute in every manner possible to this goal.
While governments around the World are looking towards renewable energy sources as a solution, it is also important that local community based sustainability programmes be implemented. Every community needs to understand and analyse the possible methods that could be used to reduce its burden on the earth’s natural resources and ensure that it develops sustainable solutions that are rooted in its surroundings. One such solutions would be for communities with abundant renewable energy resources, such as Wind, Solar, Hydro and Geothermal to harness these resources and provide power to community thereby reducing the amount on power suppliers. The use of local renewable energy resources which are also largely non-polluting for the production of heat and power is one of the greatest challenges that faces planners working for local sustainability.
SUSTAINABLE TOURISM : BENEFITS AND INDIA CASE STUDY:
The benefits of sustainable tourism has been summed up as follows :-
· Sustainable tourism encourages an understanding of the impacts of tourism on the natural, cultural and human environment.
· Sustainable tourism ensures a fair distribution of benefits and costs.
· Tourism generates local employment both directly in the tourism sector and in various support and resource management sectors.
· Tourism stimulates profitable domestic industries – hotels and other lodging facilities, restaurants and other food services, transportation systems, handicrafts and guide services.
· Tourism generates foreign exchange for the country and injects capital and the new money into the local economy.
· Tourism diversifies the local economy particularly in rural areas where agricultural employment may be sporadic or insufficient.
· Sustainable tourism seeks decision making among all segments of the society, including local population so that tourism and other resources users can co-exist. It incorporates planning and zooming which ensures tourism development appropriate to the carrying capacity of the eco-system.
· Tourism stimulates improvements to local transportation, communication and other basic community infrastructures.
· Tourism creates recreational facilities which can be used by the local communities as well as domestic and international visitors. It also encourages and helps pay for preservation of archaeological sites and historic buildings and districts.
· Nature tourism encourages productive use of lands which are marginal of agriculture enabling large tracts to remain covered in natural vegetation.
· Cultural tourism enhances local community esteem and provides the opportunity for greater understanding and communication among people of diverse backgrounds.
· Environmentally sustainable tourism demonstrates the importance of natural and cultural resources to a community’s economic and social well-being and can help to preserve them.
· Sustainable tourism monitors, assesses and manages the impacts of tourism, develops reliable methods of environmental accountability and counters any negative effect.
Any sustainable tourism development thus must create an awareness about
“ Carrying Capacity “ – which basically covers ecological relationship socio-cultural impact and visitors experience by an assessment of the maximum use of any tourism site which does not cause tensions for the host community and avoids adverse impact on the resources and on the psychological satisfaction of the tourists.
The agenda for action should concentrate around community participation in tourism development and planning, training of the personnel associated with tourism development so that they can provide quality services without devaluing the same. In the framework of action it is necessary to ensure that the benefits to the community are so spread out that the people perceive the benefits flowing to them. Similarly, there is need for a legal and procedural frame work that deals adequately with social evils like exploitation, child use, sex tourism, interference with heritage products etc.
Tourism can provide immense benefits and can be a tool for protection and presentation of the heritage of the country. Instead of being seen as an irritant to sustainable development a little initiative from the planners can make tourism the vehicle for preservation of ecology and heritage. Harping on the negative aspect only could be self defeating academic dogmatism not in tune with the future aspirations and the requirements of mankind.
Any policy for sustainable development will naturally resolve around the following cardinal principles – (a) that there is a need for striking a balance between development and conservation.
(b) That there is need for commitment of the nation as a whole to the goals of sustainability tourism development.
(c) That adequate, effective and pragmatic control systems are devised and are efficiently put into place and
(d) That the policy incorporates and motivates cooperation of the local community who must perceive the benefit of such participation and should be able to partake the same.
Indian governments Tourism Policy placed –
(1) Tourism as a central input in the economic development process because of its role in resource generation and employment creation.
(2) Focussed on the role of tourism in socio-economic development of the backward areas, weaker sections women and artisans.
(3) Allowed these goals to be pursued in tune with the goals of the enrichment of the environment and the eco-system.
(4) Recognised the role of tourism as a potent global forever for national and international understandings and for creating awareness for the sustainable development.
The policy objective mentioned that eco-tourism can be achieved only by a process of selective approach, scientific planning, effective control and continuous monitoring, i.e., it shared a sensitivity to the environmental issues. The guidelines on eco-tourism aim to achieve some specific objectives and some of the objectives are :
(a) the level of development is compatible with the general
capacity of the physical environment and resources.
(b) sufficient facilities and services are provided to serve the tourists and local population.
(c) The hotel rooms are distributed in such a manner that the natural characteristics and qualities of the areas are enhanced.
(d) The tourism related constructions are designed carefully and sensitively to merge with the surroundings to enhance the natural beauty; and
(e) The architectural heritage sites and other areas of historic value are protected adequately.
In addition, to ensure that environmental and ecological needs are carefully nurtured and that in the name of tourism development, the fragile eco-system is not exploited in too many small schemes, a strategy of “Special Tourism Area” has been devised by the govt. of India. Under this scheme, the State Governments are required to identify and notify suitable areas as ‘ Special Tourism Areas’ so that comprehensive development plans for such areas can be taken up. The identification of such areas is done on the basis of its toursim potential and the ability to attract private investment for its development on a commercial basis. The governments involvement in such Special Tourism Areas would be only to the extent of providing the basic infrastructure development. The states of Kerala, Orissa, Maharashtra have developed such Special Tourism Areas.
Currently the Govt. of India is encouraging various forms of tourism which have direct impact on preservation of heritage and culture, developing Heritage Railway Tourism in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Darjeeling, Delhi, providing impetus to the promotion of industrial tourism, pilgrimage tourism, Health tourism, Rural tourism, etc. which are positive steps to this direction.
Fairs like ‘Surajkund Crafts Mela’ based on the concept of craft and ethnicity have been a great success. Similarly, governments assistance for local festivals through central promotional mindset helps to boost local community efforts and facilitates inter-regional interaction within the country.
India is doing its best to adopt and implement eco-friendly tourism principles, use the services of experts to save the rich environmental heritage from inseparable damage and dramnent action plan to save the fragile ecology.