Redefining Tourism : Why is it necessary?
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, 1.2 billion international trips were made in 2015. And by 2030, this number will increase to nearly 2 billion. World tourism is growing at an exemplary rate.
2030. 2 billion people. 4 billion footprints. Spending over $2 trillion across the globe. Travelling to various corners of the world, making new friends, experiencing new cultures, creating new business. Providing jobs and income to over 400 million people.
Every year, numerous travel startups are coming up in different corners of the world raking in the big investments. Not to mention the already existing giants, growing at an outstanding pace. Over $5 billion was invested in travel startups in 2015. By 2030, Travel and Tourism will be 11% of world’s economy. Each and every person who travels will play a part in this story of growth, experience and adventure.
Numbers look exemplary. Don’t they?
Then why should we redefine tourism? Why should we move towards ‘Sustainable Tourism’?
Let’s look at the dark side of the times we are living in.
When we travel, we consume more resources, be it natural or man-made, and create more waste. That’s a fact! We can alienate the local communities by our indifferent behavior such as wearing inappropriate clothes or visiting places they hold sacred. We can spoil the fragile biodiversity or visit the places that cannot cope up with our presence. In 2015, we took over 32 million flights creating over 781 million tons of carbon.
Well, in the age of Internet and Technology some of these negative impacts can be completely avoided, some partially and probably some can’t be avoided at all. Whether we want to accept it or not, but tourism isn’t going to stop. In fact, it can only increase from here. There’ll always be people travelling from one part of the world to another part of the world. This calls for the need of travelling responsibly and making sustainability implicit to the concept of tourism.
The concept of travelling ‘responsibly’ or ‘sustainably’ is certainly not a new one. The concept of sustainable development was first tossed in late 1980s and tourism has always been in an integral part of it. Be it economical, environmental or social. Across the globe, there are great examples of sustainable tourism in action. Sarmoli in Uttarakhand, Khonoma in Nagaland, Anegundi in Karnataka, Sikkim are few examples in India.
But, are these enough? How many of those 1.2 billion international travellers took steps to travel more responsibly?
Evidence suggests relatively few. The part where we are lagging behind is travellers aren’t even aware of the entirety of travelling ‘responsibly’ or ‘sustainably’. A traveller’s responsibility doesn’t end at just being environment friendly. In fact, it starts from there.
As mentioned in the Bruntland report –
“sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
Very well put by WTTC,
We need tourism now and future generations will need tourism. Not just for jobs, livelihoods, and economic growth, but for peace, community, and wellbeing.
It’s time all of us, both visitors and visited, must unite together. Learn and educate to make sustainability implicit to tourism. Let us all Redefine Tourism!