Sustainable Tourism

queens necklace

Mumbai’s Marine Drive has a curvy, 3.6 km long boulevard and is perhaps, one of the most famous landmarks in the city.

Popularly known as the Queen’s Necklace,  when the coastline gets lit up in the evenings, is an essential on every tourist’s itinerary or for that matter even the locals as they love taking a casual stroll around the periphery of the Marine Drive or simply sitting by the Arabian sea watching the sunset.

However, the same Marine Drive is now in the news, albeit for the wrong reasons. Recently the Arabian Sea washed up more than two lakh kilograms of garbage on the shoreline after the recent high tide.

mumbai

Needless to say, it was the same litter that people tossed in the sea and other water bodies.

However, Mumbai is not the only city that has been grappling with the issue of sea pollution. In 2018, the Great Pacific Garbage, a long stretch of area in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California, created waves on the internet for the shocking amount of garbage it contains that is choking all the marine life.

pacific

All this reiterates that it is high time both tourists as well as local citizens and government bodies , take the responsibility  to maintain the sanctity of the destinations specially those that are abundant in natural resources and find ways and means to reduce the impact of ecological degradation.

The NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India, providing both directional and policy inputs. The Aayog supports a cooperative federal structure where the Center and the States prepare development policies together.

Under its vision documents for 2017-2024, one of the focuses is on the impacts of mass tourism in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) in particular.

NMSHE

IHR is significant for India. Stretching for about 2,400 kilometres, the IHR extends from the Indus River in the west to the Brahmaputra River in the east. It covers 10 mountain states and four hill districts of India that make up the country’s north and north-eastern borders.

Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh , Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya , Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal are the part of the IHR.

IHR also shares borders with six neighbouring countries (China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Bangladesh)

Springs

With its towering snow-laden peaks, majestic landscapes, rich biodiversity and cultural heritage, the Indian Himalayan Region has regularly drawn visitors and pilgrims from the Indian sub-continent and across the world. Every year an average of about 100 million tourists visit the ecologically sensitive area which is home to about 50 million people.  This number will soon be touching the 240 million mark in seven years, putting a huge pressure on the state’s natural resources.

himalayas

Some of the proposals of NITI aayog in promotion of Sustainable Tourism in IHR are:-

  • Disaster management and Pollution control (including Climate Change)
  • Visitor Control Mechanism to track the number of visitors every year.
  • Tourist Traffic Management Mechanism to forecast and manage vehicular traffic in the destination.
  • Recommended introduction of a “green cess” from consumers to increase tax revenue and assist in maintaining critical services
  • A zero waste policy to reduce, reuse, and recycle solid waste.
  • Mapping and revival of springs across the Himalayas
  • Ensuring that infrastructure such as hotels, restaurants, and road and rail networks in forest areas are ecologically friendly.
  • Controlling decibel levels (No loud talking or music in protected areas).
  • Resource and Ecology management mechanism, to conserve biology as well as, restore ecology for better management of natural resources and biodiversity.

himalayan-glacier

Tourism is a very complex industry involving numerous stakeholders and requiring significant amount of resources. As more regions and countries develop their tourism industry, it produces significant impacts on natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems.

The need for sustainable planning and management is imperative for the industry to survive as a whole.

 

 

 

 

 

Source Credits : NITI Aayog
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Overtourism – Coping with the Crowds.

mt everest

Come to think of it, we are more than responsible in bringing about a lot of damage on the planet by travelling.

In this age of everybody wanting to travel someplace, overcrowding is inevitable. And it hits you the moment you reach the airport which seems packed to the brim. Mass tourism affects popular cities that are being overrun with short-term visitors, or  beautiful sites that are becoming polluted, or when the pristine landscape of a hill station is being cleared of its natural fauna to find land for hotels, or even when ancient ruins are being pounded by never ending footfalls. You realize then that somewhere we need to stand up and say NO!

What shocked me more than all of these reasons was the fact that even the Mt Everest was not spared.  When you imagine the summit of Mount Everest, you picture a quiet, snowy peak far from civilisation. But a striking photo, taken by mountaineer Nirmal Purja, in May’19 shows how the reality is a lot more crowded.

Experts say crowds at Everest have also increased in recent years because expeditions have become more popular. Many “traffic jams” are caused by unprepared climbers who “do not have the physical condition” for the journey which risks not only their lives, but the lives of the Sherpa’s taking them up the mountain.

But regardless of how often we tell ourselves that we’re “travellers” and not tourists, good intentions don’t change the fact, that we’re all just a part of the huge number. And we are destroying the world by loving it to death.

The question is though: what can you do? I mean I love to travel I gain too much from seeing the world, as I’m sure so many other travellers do. So how do we find a balance of loving the world without destroying it?

MAYA-BAY-678x381
The crowded beach of Maya Bay,Thailand

The government is doing its fair share in controlling overcrowding by  implementing entry and exit timings with managing  footfalls around the world heritage sites and some more listed below;

  • In Italy’s hugely popular Cinque Terre, a phone app is being trialed that shows visitors real time congestion on the trails, and points them in the direction of alternatives.
  • For some places though, like Maya Bay in Thailand, and Boracay Island in the Philippines, the strain of overwhelming visitation has led to the extreme measure of closing the destinations to tourist’s altogether: an enforced time out for clean-up and recovery.
  • In one of the world’s most remote destinations, Easter Island, has recently changed the length of stay for tourist visas from 90 days to 30; an effort to curb the impacts of rising tourism on the tiny Pacific isle.
  • Even though there’s stringent management that includes a pollution-free perimeter zone, and capping the number of tourists visiting the Taj Mahal, there’s no improvement outside the tourist attraction itself. With an enormous number of tourists visiting the monument on a daily basis it is slowly falling to the victim of pollution.

taj-mahal

However as an individual, the choices you make about where you go and what you do as a responsible traveller, can actually go a long way to helping ease the pressures of over tourism.

1. Search out Regional Alternatives

How about getting off the tourist trail and visiting destinations with lesser known sights and experiences?

Take the island of Bali. With attracting close to 6 million tourists in 2018, visitors tend to congregate around the island’s south, in heaving tourist centers like Seminyak and Kuta. But outside of Bali’s places such as Munduk, Padang Padang, Amed with some eco lodges in Munduk and Amed is where you can still find paradise, mingle with locals, and experience Bali’s distinctive island culture.

munduk

2. Visit during Off-Peak Periods

When you visit a popular place outside of peak times, you’ll be contending with fewer tourists, and you’ll often be able to take advantage of cheaper flights, accommodation and experiences. For instance, in Croatia, Dubrovnik’s Old Town turns into a tourist crush during the hot daylight hours of the cruise ship season. But a morning stroll along the city walls before the crowds arrive, or an evening wander through its lantern-lit streets after they’ve shipped out? Magic.

off peak

3. Support the Local Community with Your Time and Money

While tourism can bring a much-needed boost to a local community, by staying longer, sleeping in locally owned accommodations, eating at smaller, locally owned restaurants, and joining tours or experiences run by responsible local operators, you can feel more confident that your valuable dollar is going directly into that community.

Safareya local

4. Explore Beyond the Hotspots with a Local Guide

For many of our over-loved destinations, crowds are often concentrated around a handful of hotspots. Exploring a destination with a responsible local guide who will often take you to places most tourists never get to see, can reveal an entirely different side to the place you’re visiting, and get you away from the over-touristed mainstream.

guides

5. Be an Eco-friendly, Responsible Traveller

‘Leave no trace’ that’s all there is to it!

By taking steps to minimise the waste you produce on your travels, and encouraging others to do the same, you can do your bit in helping to ease the pressures on this front. A cloth shopping bag, or a reusable water bottle, will immediately reduce your environmental footprint as you travel.

Untitled

What we need to do is to develop the idea of conscious travel and start to imagine a better alternative. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand or silver bullet; change will need to occur at the grassroots level, one destination at a time.

 What about you? Have you ever attempted to give back to the places you visit? Post a comment below.

Madhavi

 

 

 

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