In the recent times, the term "sustainable" has been used with travel and tourism a lot more. Everybody is striving to be sustainable, be it tour companies or hotels. Apart from the service providers, travelers today are also becoming more and more concerned about being sustainable and investing only in environment-friendly ventures. They don't wish to stay at a hotel as a result of which doesn't use recycled toilet paper or emits substances harmful to the air and the sea. They don't want to sign up with travel companies that do not care about decreasing the carbon footprint. And they do not want to visit destinations, which do not follow the 'Go Green' policy and then Sustainable Tourism is gaining light day by day.
The term sustainable tourism is derived from the concept of 'Sustainability', the need to conserve resources for the coming generations. Sustainable Tourism has been the goal of the United Nations for quite a few years now. In consonance to that, Sustainable tourism is visiting a place and making a positive impact on its environment rather than bringing it down by ruining its natural beauty. Though conservation of natural resources is a key segment of Sustainable Tourism that is not all it is about. An effect is also created by the society and the economy and under sustainable tourism, it's for the betterment and growth of the holiday destination. A key feature is a respect for the people who call the location their home thereby respecting the culture of the place, the ideologies, and traditions of the locals and most of all, their social economic system. Conservatory schemes form a substantial part of this idea of sustainability. In Sustainable Tourism we encourage a personal duty to methods of tourism that maximize rather than decrease sustainable human progress and environment features.
When social and economic sustainability is brought into perspective, the reference is being made to the impact of tourists on the local population. They obviously see their hometown getting overcrowded and congested; they also might feel an increase in crime rates. New languages and cultures are introduced to them every day, which might threaten them of their own culture, and they might feel scared of losing the authenticity of their own ethnicity. Sustainable tourism in this regard focuses on the involvement of the locals. If they are made a part of the tourism industry, there will be no reason for them to feel threatened in losing what they have. On the other hand, they will get a chance to exhibit their own values and the appreciation of it will bring about security as well as earnings.
Economic sustainability is another pillar to this concept of Sustainable Tourism.
Sustainable tourism is a new concept of environment conservation which if implemented responsibly will help to make the world a better place to live in. Sustainable tourism is a form of tourism which does not have any negative impact on the environment and the local culture of that place and it helps to generate employment for the local people of that place. Sustainable tourism is beneficial both for the environment and the locals and this is largely the responsibility of the tourist.
Traveling to less known areas provides employment to the locals and the tourists also get a taste of rustic beauty. The key factor in promoting sustainable tourism is to educate the tourist to protect and sustain the cultural and natural resources of the environment and to provide employment to the locals to reduce poverty at large. Promoting sustainable tourism also helps in increasing a countries tourism prospects but in a way that would not harm the place in future.
There are numerous places on the earth which are still left unexplored or less explored. The locals in those places have less or no exposure to the world at large and stay confined to poverty and bare minimum means of survival. By promoting tourism in such places, one not only offers the locals employment but also gets to explore such rare and unexplored places of natural beauty.
Keys to promote sustainable tourism in such places by:
- Spreading a word on their existence in the media and social networks.
- Distributing pamphlets and newspapers containing tourism in such places.
- Spreading a word about the local produce in such areas which will attract people.
- While spreading tourism, the government should make sure that it's a sustainable one and should implement strict laws such as a ban on plastic products, encourage recycled products, ban on pollution causing boats and other water bodies, ban on huge hotels and resorts. These steps will curb the environment pollution in such tourist spots.
- To find a balance between the limits and usage of a particular spot to avoid destroying the natural flora and fauna of that place and implement strict measures to work towards it. There should be a limit on the number of tourists allowed to prevent overcrowding resulting in mismanagement.
- To make available more and more means of eco-friendly products at tourist spots like the coracles instead of boats and ships.
- Every individual should be a responsible traveler by implementing certain rules like avoiding water wastage, avoiding littering, conserving energy by switching off electricity when not in use, not using plastic products, using public transport wherever possible, avoiding air and water pollution and such other rules.
Tourism shall never be totally sustainable as every industry has some impacts, but as a responsible citizen, one should always try to make it more and more sustainable. The damage done to the environment cannot be reversed immediately but if done with a cautious effort, over a period of time, things may change.
Tourism improves cash reserves and strengthens the bilateral relationships. Countries which depend solely on tourism and traveling activities have improved their cash reserves and jobs which are a positive sign. Countries which are rich in natural resources and have historic tourist sites have given a facelift to all the monuments, palaces, museums and art galleries and extends red carpet reception to international and domestic tourists. There are several countries which have very low carbon footprints and pollution and the tourists' showcase interest to visit these types of countries which are camouflaged with rich greenish covers. Indonesia, China, African and few other countries have several greenish mountains, forests, volcanoes and other great rivers and invite the international tourists with wonderful mindset. Millions of individuals tour these types of continents and mix with the local people. When these tourists interact with the locals they learn a lot and also gather useful info about plants and trees.
Measures should be taken to reduce pollution and carbon footprints. It is good that globalization and liberalization have improved bilateral relationship between the countries but it has also increased pollution and carbon footprints to a great level. Politicians, government, and ministries that are concerned with tourism should take maximum measures to reduce these types of dangerous particles that are circulating the air. Promotion of sustainable tourism is very important since it paves way for reduction in pollution and improvement in the cross-border relationship.
During peak seasons hotels, resorts, spa centers, and massage parlors generate maximum income and improve customer base drastically. When these companies provide best services to the international citizens then they will become regular visitors in the future. Only due to international tourism many poverty stricken people were able to come out of their financial situations and lead a wonderful life. So, it becomes imperative for the countries to build a long-lasting relationship with other countries to improve international tourism. Countries which have rich traditional and religious heritage like India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and other countries have to give new lease of life to their ancient monuments and tourist sites. In this way, they can welcome tens of thousands of tourists and other business travelers in the future and improve their gross domestic income.
Tourism is viewed as a vehicle for addressing natural, economical, environmental well-being in a controlled manner also exhibits the cultural milieu of the mountain people and acts as an entertainer to the arriving tourists. It provides employment opportunity to the people who are deprived off from major source for income generation compared to other geographical landscape counterparts and increases self-reliance. It is also viewed as a measure to conserve the forests and natural splendors.
Among the various forms of tourism refreshing the tourists, mountain tourism has been applauded as significant due to its arduous geographical terrain, the culture of the ethnic communities, diversified landscapes continue to allure tourists from far and near and contributes towards socio-economic development. However, maintaining and conserving the attractions in the mountain areas sustainably draws more unanswered questions. Holistic linkages and understanding of community members on sustainability and tourism can result in better living conditions and enables to maintain the anticipated sustainability to some extent. Stringent measures like initiating green task force comprising a local community, developing community owned forests to ensure sustainable natural resource, are required to be encouraged.
The Himalayan range commonly referred as the mighty Himalayas is the majestic mountain range that is home to the world's highest peaks. The Himalayan range is popularly called as "abode of snow" and people from all nations and walks of life have traveled to this unique destination. It has profoundly shaped the culture of South Asia as the many peaks of Himalayas are sacred to the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Pilgrims of the different religions take painstaking journeys to make at least one visit to the many holy shrines nestled within the mountain range. The Himalayas is unique in its nature, formation, and characteristics which keep distinguishable from its other mountain ranges across the earth including The Alps, Karakoram and others etc. However, being the mountain range there exist some similarities and differs from certain aspects. The Alps differentiate itself from the Himalayas in many ways which are as follows and the Karakoram can be viewed similarly to the Himalayas to a certain extent. And the following differences act as uniqueness and stand attracting tourists from far and near. The difference between the Alps and the Himalayas (apart from the obvious size) is accessibility where getting close to the high mountains of Himalayas tends to take a long time and now is the case of Alps where the accessibility is easy and well developed, including the infrastructure of Cable cars for taking the trekkers, tourists to the wished place with refreshments too. Another difference between the both is the presence of "well-worn" paths in The Alps and rough paths in the Himalayas accordingly. However, the Himalayas gains momentum that the easy access of Alps had led to commercialization and resulted in the loss of pristine wilderness.
It is learned that 12 % of the world's population lives in mountains and another 14% of them live near mountain areas and are dependent on mountain resources and accordingly their culture exists. The uniqueness and diversity of their culture attract many tourists and mountains are second only to coasts and islands as popular tourism destinations generating 15-20% of annual global tourism. The first and foremost practice is to educate the visitor's about the significance of forests and nature and its use towards building the economy of the local ethnic groups. Since most of the times, tourists never take interest to learn the sustainable practices and inadvertently commit mistakes and by educating them the nature of the resources could be maintained sustainably. Sometimes this practice also drags attention of well-educated tourists who have the passion towards conservation and preservation. A special time shall be allotted in package tours to educate about environmental education directing them to follow the do's and don'ts. The success of Morocco in bringing up with mountain charter to guides educating various aspects of guiding and learning ensured a positive outcome.
The working communities and tourists need to understand the diversity of Tourism ecosystems, cultures, and adaptive strategies to develop effective programs. Especially the tourists need to understand the local ecosystems, natural resource management strategies, cultural & community structure, and gender roles. The projects should focus on ensuring holistic linkage for valuing the diversity and vulnerability of mountain environment. As mentioned in one of the preceding paragraphs, the community-based initiatives should be focused on integrating economic vitality and ecological resiliency.
We are required to facilitate sustainable and equitable mountain tourism development through encouraging local ownership, Policies aimed regional development, balance between tourists, community, and environment, community level decision-making process, suitable infrastructure development suiting the terrain, community capacity building, reinvesting tourism revenues into conservation, women empowerment, reducing the outsiders involvement, holistic partnership between various stakeholders and training and awareness creation etc.
Problems with local community serve as a major problem for arriving tourists as the differences are widening between the tourists and local community and accordingly the holistic relationship should emerge between them to promote tourism. The local community should be consulted for any major initiatives while involving local community attributes as the attraction for the tourists so that sensitiveness could be averted. Tourists should be motivated to work with the local community for their well being and should involve in mentoring and skill enhancing exercises. Normally, tourists take it for granted in using the available resources in the visited area and try to waste as much as possible they can, it is to be advised to the tourists to use the resources optimally and sustainably since the people living in upper areas of the state suffer from water, electricity. Tourists tend to show their happiness by shouting, making noise etc but never feel that it causes pollution to the surrounding people. It should be avoided and minimizing the usage of motorized vehicles ensures the sustainability of the touristic resources.
The following areas need immediate attention for ensuring sustainability. Solid waste management, waste water management, biodiversity and ecosystem management, land use management (since improper utilization of land causes soil erosion and landslides cause serious damages to the environment and human lives), air and noise pollution, respect to local culture and responsible visiting and purchasing. It is also viewed that wherever commercialization is involved, it becomes difficult to sustain the resources, so tourism in mountain areas should distance itself from relying more on commercialization.