The first knowledge session at the Goa International Travel Mart (GITM) 2011, which was organised by ITB Berlin, addressed Responsible Tourism, which is predicted to triple in demand among international travellers over the next three years. A panel of experts discussed, as per their experiences, what can be done, should be done and has been done for Responsible Tourism. The panel consisted of Rika Jean-Francois, Sales Director - South Asia and Pacific and Commissioner for Corporate Social Responsibility, ITB Berlin; Aarti Mohan, Editor, The Alternative; Mini Chandran, General Manager, SwaSwara and Epifanio Barreto, Head - Centre for Responsible Tourism, Goa.
Jean-Francois gave a presentation on how the travel trade needs to rethink its strategies to become more responsible, more so because the evolving consumer demands it. She said, “In three years’ time, Responsible Tourism is going to triple in demand among international travellers, and intelligent and sustainable investments at micro and macro levels; and private, individual and governmental co-operation are the need of the hour to meet this demand.”
Agreeing with Jean-Francois, Mohan added that ‘local’ is the keyword in Responsible Tourism and there are five main reasons for it being so for businesses: It matters to consumers, saves costs, helps travellers tell a better story, attracts new customers; and most importantly, reduces dependency on alternatives, none of which are sustainable. “Identify your focus area, plan long-term with ongoing benefits, and make internal changes,” he suggested.
Chandran highlighted what CGH Earth has been doing for Responsible Tourism. She highlighted SwaSwara’s projects such as Natural Harvest Pvt Ltd which encourages organic farming on the outskirts of Melghat in Maharashtra, and the association of beach shack owners formed at Gokarna beach to keep the area clean. “Guests have evolved to become more aware and more sensitive, which means we have to evolve in the same way to meet both our needs as well as theirs. We take the three R’s: Reuse Reduce and Recycle very seriously and it has been our success mantra,” she revealed.
Touching upon the ethics of responsible tourism, Barreto opined, “Support from the government and the hospitality sector is the prime requirement for Responsible Tourism. The state and central governments need to take the hospitality trade’s suggestions into account while making decisions. This section needs nature and environment preservation, wildlife protection and mutual cultural respect among both travellers and locals. Better planning and more attention to detail will help enhance Responsible Tourism and hospitality in Goa and in other states as well.”