Acknowledging Tourism as the most natural and efficient vehicle for promoting inclusive growth for any country, Minister of State (I/C), Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India, Mr Alphons Kannanthanam, said that “India is a safe place and everyone can feel comfortable here – only perceptions and the way it is projected needs to be changed. We had a combined 14.5 million tourist arrivals last year and that is not enough for a country as big as India and a country which has so much to offer.
We should ensure safety around our heritage sites, especially build an entire ecosystem of art, culture, coffee houses and live performance around heritage sites. They should be alive throughout the night.”
The Minister was speaking at the CII Annual Tourism Summit 2017- Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development held in New Delhi today. CII Report on Sustainable Tourism Practices in India was released by the Minister.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development in recognition of the tremendous potential of the tourism industry, which accounts for some 10% of the world’s economic activity. ‘Sustainable Tourism’ is defined as tourism that respects both the local people and the traveller, cultural heritage and the environment. It seeks to provide people with an exciting and educational holiday that is also of benefit to the people of the host country.
Sustainable or eco-tourism is one of the most significant factors that tourists consider while deciding their travel destinations. The Minister cited the example of Indore which has maintained its impeccably clean status through initiatives of local bodies. “Sustainable models are also implemented in Kerala, especially remote Kerala, Meghalaya and Nagaland and can be replicated in other parts of the country only through individual and community level.”
Kannanthanam observed that cultivating ownership for promoting sustainable tourism and spreading awareness comes at the local bodies and municipal level. Lamenting non-performance, the Minister said it is their primary responsibility for maintaining sanitation and hygiene, which maintained at the local level will help remove roadblocks in the path of tourism.
Highlighting government-led initiatives such as cycle and music tourism promoted at the Paryavartan Parv to enhance tourism, Mr Gyan Bhushan, Economic advisor, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said “We all have to think and act responsibly to achieve the goal of sustainability.
Elaborating on the goals of sustainable tourism, Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General of Confederation of Indian Industry, said “The tourism sector is at present experiencing a huge growth. It has become one of the major sectors under the Indian economy and is emerging as a key driver for generating employment and promoting economic diversification. We have to ensure that the tourism sector not only reap benefits economically but also in responsibility towards the country, people and culture. We should also see to it that it touches the lives of those who are not as privileged as we are and help in imparting skill sets and reducing poverty at all levels.”
“Social media today has significant impact on why people travel. According to World Travel & Tourism Council, India ranks 7th in the world in terms of total contribution to GDP. We should look at developing cultural hubs where everyone can soak in India,” said Mr Deep Kalra, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Make my Trip.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Dipak Haksar, Chairman, CII National Committee on Tourism & Hospitality & Chief Executive, ITC Hotels & WelcomHotels said, “One of three super sectors, Travel & Tourism is driving economic growth in the 21st century. The sector accounts for 9.3 % of total employment in India and has immense power to do well. India, one of the oldest civilizations in the world has been attracting travelers from all over the world for long. The growing importance of India on the international stage has contributed to the growth of Travel & Tourism.”
Revival of Jammu & Kashmir was also discussed at the meet. “Inclusiveness is key and is very important for sustainable tourism. We need to involve and engage the locals to achieve sustainability. J&K is a model of unity and diversity which presents a complete package for both Indian and global all tourists,” commented Mr Waseem Raja, Deputy Director- Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir.
Sustainable tourism is mainly conceived with three kinds of responsibilities which are termed as the ‘triple bottom-line’ of economic responsibility, social responsibility and environmental responsibility. India already has the concept of home stays and people from all over can experiencing our hospitality. What is needed is to give the community a long term vision and put them to action. Technology along with volunteering can enable us with multiplier effect. The key lies in working on a plan together for shared consumption.