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Sustainable and Responsible Tourism- In Context

Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 16:33 Hrs  [IST]

In tourism industry, all stakeholders must have heard of the phrases "sustainable tourism" and "responsible tourism." In the 5 series Article, I will try to consolidate and simply the understanding and provide basic plan of action for all relevant stakeholders to deploy and execute. Take what pleases you and supports further on your own organizational policies and objectives.

As a Consultant and relevant stakeholder in climate change management, I would like to simplify this task for all of you. We should always have policies and action plan which should be simple to include in day to day operations and management of the company.

When we see the truths of tourism then we find out that how difficult it is to have a sustainable tourism. In reality tourism consumes resources, creates wastes, competes for scarce resources, has the ability to over-consume resources, etc.

Sustainable tourism is a positive approach intended to reduce the tensions and friction created by the complex interactions between the tourism industry, the visitors, the environment and the communities which are host to holiday makers.

It involves working for the long-term viability and quality of both natural and human resources, it is certainly not anti-growth, but acknowledges that there are limits to growth.

All Hotels and Resorts must be compliant and compatible with global green building standards which already exist. That's just 1 way of approaching the sustainability as its NOT 100 %, you are only achieving 5% to 40% of total climate change action plans defined as yet. Where consultants and project heads and engineers have started copying from each other blindly without even checking or researching the applicability for their facility. Can 1 size fits all?

It's time to move beyond general Green Building ratings or something similar as they do not yet includes many aspects of climate change and sustainability, thus limiting the mindset and delivery of infrastructure management. And Move towards larger and higher returns on investments through Sustainable and Responsible Tourism.

A resorts may have more responsibility towards environmental management because of its location and what they offer for tourists. Inculcating a culture for responsibility while a consumer is on vacation is definitely a sensitive concern. Its time we re-assess and re-focus to become adaptable.

With the current global issues on constant flooding, landslides and cyclones, can mountain and beach resorts behave the same way as they have been from last 50 years? They are operating on much higher risks than before at this moment. Do we have backup continuity and risk management plan?

Do you know the difference between 'Sustainable Tourism' Vs 'Responsible Tourism' Vs 'Sustainable Tourism for Development?' Do we know what is included in 'Sustainable Mountain Tourism' + 'Sustainable Coastal Tourism' + 'Sustainable Spiritual Tourism' etc. and so many similar much hyped jargons? Sustainable Development should be inclusive of interests of all stakeholders including indigenous people, local communities, visitors, industry and government thus enhancing Economic, Social and environmental facets. There have been studies that proves that it has by far more economic benefits than any other criteria and also trillion dollar worth of opportunities created as a result. We need a lobby that understands this. It's not just social responsibility it is for sure good business opportunity. It's a stimulation for further infrastructure investments and projects.

Tourism can be a significant, even essential part of the local economy. Because the environment is a basic component of the tourism industry's assets, tourism revenues are often used to measure the economic value of protected areas.

Our Indian Tour Operators also do not understand any of this. They still largely run on old fashioned way of selling hotels and flights and that's about it. Their communications with the end customer must be part of this sustainable development.

In the next series of articles we will look at detailed definitions, benefits, action plans, framework, strategies and understanding of the phrases and concepts and their deploy ability for all stakeholders. We will learn what is at stake and what minimum by default we can do to solve some basic problems on the ground.

(Payal Rastogi has 22 years of professional experience in multinationals and has worked in various functions under several capacities across the globe. Currently, she runs a consulting firm known as Carbonfixers which makes businesses and infrastructure Climate Resilient and Sustainable through Strategies, Technologies and Resource Efficiency)

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

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