Green investments in the tourism sector are needed for sustainable economy that strikes a balance between growth growth and environmental protection
Tourism is intricately connected with aesthetics. Aesthetics in the context of tourism refers to the appreciation and experience of beauty, whether it's in natural landscapes, architectural marvels, cultural expressions, or artistic creations. It is the only sector where the public wants nature to be preserved, unlike other sectors where people support the destruction in the name of development.
Tourism is the pillar of our economy. In the year 2021, the travel and tourism sector in India made a substantial contribution of approximately 178 billion US dollars to the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the year 2017, the nation experienced the arrival of more than ten million international tourists, resulting in a substantial influx of foreign currency amounting to approximately 27.31 billion USD. The power of tourism is enormous. In many states tourism is the backbone of the rural economy generating employment opportunities for thousands. But many times tourists act as a destructive force in polluting the environment. We can see plastic bottles and bags floating in the Dal Lake.
To promote global awareness of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political, and economic value World Tourism Day is celebrated on September 27th under the auspices of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Each year, World Tourism Day is celebrated on a specific theme, chosen by the UNWTO, to highlight different aspects of the tourism industry. These themes often revolve around current global issues, trends, and challenges facing the tourism sector. The designated theme for the year 2023 is “Tourism and Green Investments”. This emphasises the necessity for increased and more precise allocations of resources towards the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.
When we mention green investment in tourism, we're talking about building and taking care of places that are friendly to the environment. This involves things like eco-friendly hotels and lodges, and using less polluting vehicles like electric or hybrid cars. Tourism and green investment are interconnected in several important ways. Green investment in the context of tourism refers to allocating financial resources towards sustainable and environmentally friendly practices within the tourism industry.
This can involve initiatives that aim to minimize negative environmental impacts, conserve natural resources, and promote sustainable development.
Tourism and biodiversity conservation are closely linked, and when managed responsibly, tourism can play a significant role in the protection and preservation of natural ecosystems and biodiversity. For this, we have to take the local community into confidence. Usually, people in rural places want their place to develop like a metros. They forget that changing the geography will badly affect their economic prosperity. Engaging local communities in tourism activities can lead to a sense of ownership and stewardship over natural resources. When communities see direct benefits from conservation efforts, they are more likely to be supportive.
Ultimately, green investments in the tourism sector are necessary for the creation of a sustainable and resilient economy that strikes a balance between economic growth, environmental protection, and the well-being of local communities. It incentivises a change towards more environmentally conscious and socially responsible tourism practices that are beneficial to both the natural world and the sustainable growth of the tourism industry.
(The writer is an adjunct faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore; views are personal)