International Biodiversity day: Tips to promote Sustainable Tourism

We all have heard the term sustainable tourism. What is it? How can you travel sustainably? Here’s a story of John and Andrea, Travel blogger couple who wanted to see the world without causing harm to the environment. But they are a wee bit careless!

“Sorry aunty. Will take care to switch off the geyser next time!”, John said to Mrs. Srivastava, as he put down the phone.

“Honey! Don’t tell me you forgot again”- Andrea exclaimed. “It’s not a hotel honey! It’s someone’s home!” she continued.

“Ya I know. But I’m glad aunty switched off the geyser. She’s so sweet, she still didn’t reprimand me for my carelessness”- John cringed while replying.

Andrea punched John playfully as they entered the Nanda Devi National Park.
The couple was enamored by the beauty of the national park. Both had heard about the meadows of endemic alpine flowers and the rich fauna but as they couldn’t believe what they saw in the next few hours. Amongst many other things, they saw the Asiatic Black Bear, snow leopard, brown bear and other rare species etc. Moreover, Valley of Flowers National Park seemed to complement the ruggedness of the Nanda Devi national park.

Nanda Devi National Park: A case for sustainable tourism in India
Nanda Devi National Park: A case for sustainable tourism in India.
Pic source: www.hellotravel.com and www.shikhar.com

“John, isn’t it amazing that a place that was not known until the 1930’s became so popular that it was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage sites in early 1980’s? Since then it has been protected from anthropogenic pressures.”- Andrea informed.   

“Hmmm I have also heard that livestock grazing, mountaineering and adventure-based activities have been banned here”- quipped John.

“So sad! I would have loved to do mountain climbing over here!”

“Sorry sweety! The authorities wouldn’t allow you!”- John informed Andrea while hugging her!

UNESCO Natural Heritage sites of India: Sustainable Tourism
UNESCO Natural Heritage sites of India

Just like John and Andrea, many tourists love visiting the wildlife and like doing adventure activities. However, due to the lack of awareness and over-enthusiasm and due to unstructured, unplanned tourism activities by tourism stakeholders, various tourism sites have seen widespread garbage accumulation and environmental degradation. Many tourist sites have seen an exponential increase in commercial activities that have led to air, water, noise contamination. In the end, the local community bears the brunt of poor water quality, lack of adequate resources and lower life longevity in the long term. Sustainable tourism aims to create awareness about such activities and attempts to balance development, leisure and ecological preservation of resources.

UNESCO Cultural Heritage sites in India: Sustainable Tourism
UNESCO Cultural Heritage sites in India

Thus, if a tourist applies his/her mind before throwing away a polythene or plans his/her stay in an Ecotourist homestay thereby benefiting the local community, he/she can contribute in a big way. As Mr. Sudhir Sobti, Chief Manager (PR & Publicity), Delhi Tourism, puts it “We all must do our bit to preserve the environment for a larger cause. We should be conscious and aware that each and every action of ours has an impact on the environment. Every tourist and fellow citizen should take precautions while visiting natural and cultural heritage monuments and travel sustainably.” (Read Mr. Sobti’s blog on Accessible tourism: http://bnbnation.com/blog/demystifying-accessible-tourism/)

How can you encourage Sustainable Tourism?

  • Eat local food

It doesn’t make sense to order a pizza when you are staying in a suburban homestay. Besides the resources that will be consumed while making one, the quality of a pizza may not be as good. When you travel to a place like Andaman, try shrimps and prawn dishes and when you travel to Kashmir, try a Kashmiri kehwa (traditional green tea).

  • Travel in a local bus

When you travel in a local bus with local people, you save a lot of money Apart from that, you get to experience the local culture, mannerisms, local people’s way of talking first hand. It helps you get a grasp on the local language too. Moreover, it is fun observing a mother-daughter interact with each other or 2 male friends pull each other’s legs. Compare this with your high-end cab picking you up from the hotel and you feel formal all the time. Sounds boring, doesn’t it?

  • Stay in a Homestay

Various studies all over the world have suggested that the energy saving potential of hotels is significant. It has been seen that energy within a hotel room is frequently consumed 24-hours-a-day, year-round regardless of whether the room is occupied or not. This leads to increased burden on the local resources and a drastic increase in the carbon footprint! Compare this with a Bed and Breakfast/homestay, where an owner is on its toes to consume electricity, water, and other resources optimally. Besides due to the increased capital investment in a hotel which increases with the corresponding increase in the star category of the hotel, a Bed and Breakfast uses a fraction of the electricity, water, and other energy resources while providing similar amenities at affordable rates. Thus, Homestay is a brilliant way to stay and travel in a sustainable manner. (Compare Hotels versus BnB: http://bnbnation.com/blog/bnbversushotel)

Staying local is fun! Martin and Fanni enjoyed the festival of Holi in a homestay earlier this year.
Martin and Fanni from Hungary, promoted sustainable tourism by enjoying the festival of Holi in a homestay earlier this year. Click on the pic to gather their experience

Have a look at the variety of Homestays in Delhi: https://goo.gl/RsA6hr

Today is International Biodiversity day and an opportunity to create awareness and act towards sustainable tourism. Let us pledge to promote sustainable tourism and help preserve the nature’s bounty and contribute to the local community wellbeing.

Source of inspiration:

http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/in | https://www.cbd.int/idb/2017

18 thoughts on “International Biodiversity day: Tips to promote Sustainable Tourism”

  1. Good points on sustainable tourism. Not only is it good for the environment, it helps the local economy as well. Win-win for everyone!

  2. Travel is always a richer experience when the tourist experiences the place with its locals. And I agree that by doing so, we become responsible, contributing to a sustainable tourism. Win-win for the locals, the tourists, and the place itself! 🙂

  3. I totally support sustainable tourism and if the local authorities cannot help make it happen, then they shouldn’t let a place be exposed to tourists who tend to be (unfortunately) careless with the surrounding. I’m all about the tips you mentioned, local transpo, homestays, and local food, those are the things that I usually look for when traveling to a place.

  4. Nice data points here. To your list of things to do to encourage sustainable tourism, I would also add, encourage local art forms – whether it is a cultural performance or even local hand made art. It really goes miles into not just helping the place but also preserving the culture.

    1. Hi Ami,
      Oh yes! I forgot the local arts and handicrafts in promoting sustainable tourism. May be I should have included ‘Shop local’ too!
      Thanks for the point!

  5. Yes, from sustainable planning to tourism, it is the right way to lessen something that is deteriorating, even being non renewable. These tips are amazing, though I was stunned by the fact that hotels consume the electricity even for empty rooms. Its’ a nice method, really inspired by this.

  6. Very informative data. And wonderful tips. The whole traveler community needs to work towards sustainable tourism in order to preserve the beauty of the world that we admire so much today

  7. I love you so much for this article! Because I’ve been desperately trying to reduce my carbon footprint. I haven’t thought the same way about the hostels and hotel issue though. But I will take it into consideration now!

  8. Such a lovely post! We do try our best to be as sustainable as possible. Local food is always our priority. Homestays give us a chance to interact with the locals and learn about their day to day life.

  9. Great info. I live in a ‘tourist’ hotspot and I can see the effect that this can have on the environment. Education is the key and I hope more is done to inform people on what they can do to lessen their footprint. I look forward to your next post

    1. Hi Kevin,
      I am glad to know from you that education is the key to sustainable development of tourist hotspots. I shall be writing my next post on World Environment day on 5th June. I plan to dwell upon the natural heritage of India and how we can preserve it!

  10. Very interesting post and yes Indian home cook food is much healthier than fast food like pizza, burger

  11. Those mentioned above such as taking a local bus and homestay are my top favourites when traveling to a new place. We can all be responsible traveler and contribute to sustainable tourism on our own beautiful ways.

  12. Very useful information. Not many people who are into traveling look after these things. I totally support sustainable tourism. I am a person who loves to live the life like locals only that’s when you get the real flavor of their culture. Loved your writing.

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