The Need to Foster Responsible Tourism
Hotel Business Review|September-October 2020
With the hospitality and tourism industry in India resuming their operations after months of Covid-19 induced lockdowns, it is also the time to rethink on what kind of tourism we as a society or rather our blue planet needs for its future.
Jhuma Biswas

Tourism contributes towards making our life beautiful and meaningful. It enriches our experience and broadens our horizons. Tourism is an essential and crucial dimension of global economy. Without tourism hospitality industry cannot survive, and without tourism our life would lose its essence. But at the same time we have to add that irresponsible tourism with only concern for enjoyment (from the side of consumers) and profits (from the side of suppliers), and without any care for the environment has the potential to irreparably harm our future.

The Role of Tourists

The common occurrence of tourists carelessly throwing plastic packets here, there and everywhere on nature is an apt reflection of irresponsible tourism, which can harm our environment.

Most plastics are neither biodegradable nor digestible. Deposition of plastic waste on water bodies like river and sea can not only cause water pollution but also harm the aquatic animals who inadvertently consume such plastics. This in turn also indirectly harms humans who consume many of such aquatic species for their food. Plastic pollution on large water bodies can also contribute to floods, endangering invaluable lives and highly valuable properties in the process.

Tourists can also further the cause of responsible tourism by preferring cycling, hiking, and walking wherever possible over opting for car drives. This would facilitate in keeping their favourite tourist destinations (especially if it is a hill station) pristine and green.

Eco-friendly Hospitality

From the supply side, constructing hotels and resorts by cutting forests and endangering wildlife in the forests or constructing hotels and resorts on the river banks can be examples of irresponsible tourism. However, here such hotel and resort owners are to be blamed and not the consumers who avail their services. During the Uttarakhand flood in 2013, many small hospitality properties constructed on river banks were swept by floods.

Similarly, hospitality properties which employ environmental-friendly measures like use of solar energy, LED lighting and waste recycling process, etc. can be said to be contributing to the cause of responsible tourism. A hospitality property, which has comprehensive measures to save water, and electricity can also be said to be furthering the cause of environmentally-friendly tourism. Ideally, five-star hotels and classy resorts should also have at least one restaurant serving organic food.

The Broad Definition

However, these are only examples of responsible tourism. The broad ambit of responsible tourism does run deeper than addressing these obvious adverse environmental actions. For example, using local materials and local manpower for the construction of a hotel is an apt example of responsible tourism practices, which are often overlooked. Using local materials would entail much lesser carbon footprint on our planet than using of far away exotic materials.

Latika Nath

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