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.
“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!
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.
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)
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.
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