Kerala Tourism – The Rise of Responsible Tourism and Impact on Local Industry
With its roots embedded deep into the traditions and cultures of its civilization, tourism has developed to become one of the world’s most important industrial sectors, growing twice as fast as the world’s GDP. In order to balance the positive and negative potentials of tourism, it is absolutely vital to integrate a responsible and preventative dimension into the tourism strategies, policies and business schemes.
Kerala Tourism, that won the Ulysses Prize, the top prize for excellence in sustainable tourism from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, for its “Responsible Tourism” model in Kumarakom, is following the World Tourism Day this year in similar style. On September 27, Kerala Tourism took its celebrations to the grassroots with the declaration of two contests – Photography Competition and Competition on Innovative Ideas for Responsible Tourism. The former, aimed at portraying the Responsible Tourism destinations in all its glory via capturing the basic elements of RT like community involvement, stakeholders’ role, travellers’ involvement, lifestyle of the local communities and innovative approaches and eco-friendly measures.
The latter, aims to get innovative ideas from tourism clubs for bettering the implementation of RT in Kerala, starting with one district at a time.
Kerala Tourism Minister, A.P. Anilkumar, said – “As the world leader in sustainable tourism, the state will celebrate World Tourism Day in the most befitting manner by endeavouring to find ways to intensify initiatives to achieve tourism growth in a sustainable manner.”
Responsible Tourism and Its Impact on Local Industry
Responsible Tourism, as an approach, redefines tourism on various fronts. It lays more emphasis on respecting, protecting and benefiting local communities, cultures and the environment, while engaged in tourism activities. From an angle where it was about meeting the expectations of travelers, the tourism industry has now grown to an all-inclusive realm of comprehensive sustenance for all stakeholders involved.
When the impact of tourism on other local industries is to be taken, the first score goes to rise in generation of income and employment. As responsible tourism focuses on development of local communities, this generates greater economic benefits and enhances well-being of the host communities, thus improving the working conditions and access to industry. Moreover, it involves the local people in a decision making process that directly affects them and their lifestyle.
And, as the limelight shifts to local business and indigenously built products, earnings through foreign exchange takes a rise. With the revenue reaching directly into the hands of the community, inflow of money increases without diversion to other “foreign agents” on home soil. The tourism industry in India that generated about US$100 billion in 2008, with the growth in prominence of Responsible Tourism, is expected to increase to US$275.5 billion by 2018 at a 9.4% annual growth rate.
Tourism, in order to better cater to the incoming community of travelers, tends to encourage the development of multiple-use infrastructure that in return benefits the host community. This includes various means of transports, health care facilities, local infrastructure like bus stands, parks, waste bins etc and sports centers, in addition to the hotels and high-end restaurants that cater to foreign visitors. This development of infrastructure in turn induces the development of other directly productive activities, majority of which again employ the local community in building up the system.
With the whole tourism industry in Kerala having their eyes on Responsible Tourism now, much can be expected positively for the local and indigenous industries associated and/or dependent on tourism industry.
This cycle of boosting the concept of Responsible Tourism which supports the local industries is reversive as the same applies to the vice versa scenario too. More or less like two sides of a coin. When one spins, so does the other. When one evolves, so does the other.