Sustainable Tourism: An opportunity to re-define tourism industry
di DR AMIT SHARMA
Sustainable tourism is all about optimising the available resources in the tourism ecosystem where the entire value chain (from clients to vendors) falls within the boundaries of the framework to fulfil SDG’s. Like all other forms of tourism, here also the result to be the happy and satisfied customers who opt for Sustainable mode of holidays. However, the noble difference is,” the components of value chain involved in this stratum”. At each step, the intent is to give back to society, nature, the local economy, and other fragile components. Broadly speaking, sustainable tourism is an intersectoral approach where “varied consumer behaviour” creates “varied consumer demands” and these demands gets fulfilled by “synchronised and harmonised backend resources” to build up a “customer-friendly, experiential yet resource responsible holidays”.
Various reports have shown the “ changed consumer behaviour”, especially in COVID 19 period. Health & Wellness holidays, Slow tourism, transformational vacations, Yoga & Ayurveda have taken the front seat. The definition of luxury holidays is not always to be the expensive holidays but the luxury of the utilisation of resources within the desired limits”, and here the concept of Sustainable tourism fits all the way. Trends are in favour of sustainable tourism, hence here lies to huge opportunity to involve various “not so active” social components into the bigger frame of holiday curation. Intangible aspects like local art and culture, local cuisine, local traditions need a culmination now. Across the globe, efforts are on to have this sort of integration. Recent initiatives taken by UNESCO about” intangible heritage” is a wise step in the right direction. Community-based tourism needs to be integrated with destination management. This will get the desired commercial results and hence economic viability.
While approx. 70% of the holiday package cost goes for accommodation, employing more local staff in the hotels/lodges creates a multiplier effect on the local economy and society. The hotel’s management may take the responsibility of free education of the children of local employees in rural areas. Another positive effect of this effort could be the “reverse migration of labour”. Presently people from rural clad across the world moves to cities in the search of jobs. Historically, Tourism contributes 8-10% of the world’s GDP, it shows the kind of potential lies for social upliftment. Once there is a flow of money from tourists to the locals, the equilibrium of value proposition can be easily established. For the rest of 30% holiday components, ie the local transportation, guides, ancillary services, entry fee etc can be channelised in the right direction.
Another aspect of sustainable tourism is related to the “natural resources” involved in tourist destinations. Managing effective carbon footprints is the “Task” for destination management companies. The quantification is not easy, nor “zero-carbon holidays” can be implemented easily. The “minimalistic holidays approach” can be the way forward. Keeping the ceiling on “carry capacity” of the destination, “pricing capping” on accommodation options. strict SOP’s vendor policies etc could be a few measures that can be taken locally by the government.