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Wednesday, 06 September, 2017, 11 : 12 AM [IST]

Time to focus on Sustainable Tourism

The joyous feeling of packing your suitcase before the start of a vacation is one that is incomparable. But how many of us stop to think how our vacation or trip is going to impact the economy and people in the destination that we are visiting. While full moon parties and rock concerts in beach destinations are very popular, these are the very things that are damaging the destination. In fact, Thailand today has been categorised as a ‘declining destination’ due to the repeated abuse of its beaches.

This brings me to the concept of ‘sustainable tourism’ and its importance. This is even more relevant in India itself, where a number of our tourist destinations are just beginning to see a rise in tourism. And the local communities and people are beginning to realise the vast benefits that this can bring. The idea behind sustainable tourism is for the tourists to make a positive impact on the destination they are visiting in terms of employment opportunities and economic growth for the destination and its people. And doing this without causing a negative impact on the environment and ecology of the place is what is most critical.

Let’s take the example of the Perito Moreno Glacier. This is the only glacier in the world that is actually growing and the whole region including the airport city of El Calafate is part of an Argentine Sustainable Tourism master plan. Perito Moreno, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981 is a wonderful example of how a destination can be responsibly developed.

If all tourism stakeholders – destinations, hotels, tour operators, tourism bodies – are aware of the benefits of sustainability, the beauty of the worlds best tourist spots and destinations will be enhanced for our future generations.

The Three Sisters Trekking Company is a unique business that trains women from the mountainous region of West Nepal to be trekking guides. Thereby making this a classic social enterprise that is helping the local community while promoting tourism.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council is now taking active interest in India and I’m sure that over the next few years all stakeholders will realise the true benefits of sustainability and work towards a uniform goal.

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