What is environment? Is the air we breathe? The land we live on? The water we drink? The fruits and vegetables we eat? The animals we domesticate? Or the nature we admire? Yes it’s all that but the most important thing which is mostly missed out is ‘WE’. We are as essential a part of the environment as is water, air and soil. ‘We’ form the cultural environment which is unique to us as humans. Since ages this culture has been slowly developing and growing like the trees. Travel and tourism are parts of appreciating both these aspects of environment.
In recent decades both tourism and environment concerns have seen positive growth rates. They were mutually exclusive until one point but now, with increasing awareness about the environment, people have started to realize that in fact, they are related. Tourism has emerged as an independent and flourishing industry with millions of people engaging in it on a daily basis.
I see tourism as one big bridge which is linked with several small roads from all directions. It’s like a centrifugal force which attracts everything towards it, to come together in the centre. In layman terms, travel & tourism is the hub of hospitality industry. Each and every single type of industry, be it manufacturing, IT, aviation or any other, come together and have a part to play in the effective working of this sector.
This is where sustainable tourism comes in. Sustainable tourism can be defined broadly as a type of industry which aims at prospering by doing least harm to the environment. It’s important to note that sustainable tourism is not the same as eco tourism. Sustainable tourism also aims at preserving local cultures & maintaining ecological balance while generating employment & income for the local population.
Carbon emissions, deforestation, Ineffective waste management, land degradation, water-air-land pollution etc are very evident environmental problems. They are right in our faces, staring at us, forcing us to take some action. I’m not saying that travel and tourism are the only causes for environmental hazards but yes definitely, it is a part of the much larger cause.
Cultural erosion is another facet of environmental hazard. People, land and civilizations are elements that form a culture. From tree worship to unique dressing styles, all are forms of culture. Discovering different types of cultures also becomes an inspiration and motive to travel. While this is a treat for the tourists, the local people, mainly in the interiors of India, become like zoo animals. Tourists come from different lands, take their pictures and watch them with awe and amazement. They become like fish in an aquarium, fascinating at first but boring after a while.
So to emphasize on my earlier point, yes, environment and tourism are deeply related. Without environment and its resources tourism will cease to exist. And similarly, due to harmful methods and practices incorporated in order to make tourism possible, the environment might cease to exist. So what we need to do is maintain a fine balance between the two. We should take steps to preserve are environment, both cultural & natural, but at the same time promote sustainable tourism for the welfare of our economy.
Image Source: [http://english.vietnamnet.vn/dataimages/200812/original/images1678629_1.jpg]