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Talking About Responsible Tourism
 

Responsible Tourism is the great Buzzword in tourism scene. It is more about engaging with the mountain destinations, enjoying a range of winter activities, in beautiful surrounding and having a fun and memorable stay but not at the cost of the environment the local population and we all want that.

Responsible Skiing Tourism is the heart of nature-based tourism. The sector grows in response to rising customer demand and there are many issues that need to be addressed. The objective should be to develop multi stakeholder’s engagement and understanding of the contribution of tourism to the economy, society, culture and environment and through research, training. Outreach to enhance the ability to manage tourism more sustainable in the country. The challenge is to achieve the key objective and Responsible to make our country better place for people to live in and to visit.

We must deliberate on tourism and employment (especially to locals). Disability access, the role of government partnerships for sustainability in destinations and all inclusive marketing with Responsible tourism, humans rights, world heritage sites and corporate responsibility in the tourism and Hospitality industry, issue of women and tourism; control of emissions i.e., emphasis on more bio-fuel developments, water conservation energy savings, constructions norms – (both designs and implementation) protection of landscape to save local landscape are key areas of concern. One just has to keep working through larger number of small actions on a sustained basis on the aspects enumerated above to bring the change. One must realize that in the eco-sensitive areas, no miracle works. One has to be sensitive in approach toward development and respect the eco-fragileness of the destination. For making this successful, skills too are needed which are of specialized nature. There is a lack of quality talent in these natural areas. Therefore, this will also need for tourism training infrastructure and qualified trainers. Hence, skill development programme is a must and locals need to be trained. In this respect, government’s continued commitment toward Sustainable development is visible through announcing India Sustainable Tourism guidelines.  The Ministry constituted a Steering Committee with representative from all the sectors of tourism and hospitality industry of India. The Steering Committee deliberated at length to formulate the Sustainable Tourism criteria.

The committee has finalized the sustainable tourism criteria and indicators for the Accommodation Sector, and the Tour Operators sector, as these two form the most important stakeholders in the tourism industry. Once adopted, it would be mandatory for all organizations in travel trade and hospitality industry of India to adopt the Sustainable Tourism Criteria. Even for classification of hotels, government has included specific eco- friendly measures like conservation of energy, water, recycling and reuse of water, waste management in all areas. There is greater awareness now and promoters do understand that some places have a fragile disposition and an eco-system that should not be tampered with. Such places perform best when development is a steady sensible and sustainable way and move forward with sense of responsibility. This awareness is there aftermath of natural calamities that took place in Uttarakhand and other eco-sensitive areas. It is crucial for the local communities to take responsibility on improving their towns and villages. It is about grass root mobilization and taking responsibility. Action against any unhealthy development in the region that can lead to further devastation. This fear should be injected in each village and local leaders. They need to be their very own police and act with discipline and concern. Careless and commercial approach toward tourism can only lead to disaster and the local people will be put on all blames. One can be sure that it is not Nature but what it unfolds thereafter will take too long a time to revive to pristine glory. Greed here need to be controlled & local community be the local police to control such unfair practices Promoters will run away and only locals will face the disastrous efforts. We have seen the mad rush of developments in Manali, Kedarnath, Garhwal region, Kumaon region which are eco-sensitive areas. Thus need 3 things first study on carrying capacity of the region is done and need based development, sewage water supply, and connectivity are made. If these are taken care from the beginning, eco-system can be balanced and conserved.

It is direction less purposeless and confused policy that brought the disaster in Uttarakhand and still we have not learned the lessons. Government must intervene every time and to talk about criteria. It should focus on issues and how these are planned to resolve.  In the policy, emphasis is given to local welfare activities, local employment, use of local material local design concept (so that these sensitive areas should not look like Urban cities) i.e., economic issues which really matter to the local people. Sad part is that even a span of decade is not enough for the states to form a tourism policy for Himalayan or eco-fragile areas and take appropriate steps to make safe living and happy living for such distantly located citizens. If done in good spirit, this will provide an opportunity for the locals and stop exodus to urban cities for seeking jobs and displacement living style. If locals get jobs, they will be ready to take the jobs infamous of thrill of adventure, peaceful living where they grew up and young start-ups will be on offer as per government’s policy. Work life balance will be there and as they have something on stake, they will protect and preserve the heritage of the destination. That is the main objective of Responsible Tourism practices. We are determined to bring these changes and put India as one of the most eco-friendly and Responsible Tourism destination in the world.

 

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