Issues in Sustainability in the Tourism Industry in West Bengal: Moving towards Eco-Tourism Shomik Saha
Department of Management
Salesian College Siliguri Campus
For humans, sustainability is the potential for long-term maintenance of well-being, which has ecological, economic, political and cultural dimensions. Sustainability requires the reconciliation of environmental, equity (social) and economic demands - also referred to as the "three pillars" of sustainability (3 E’s).
After the Rio Earth Summit (2012), global changes such as the environment, education, health and social mobility have multiplied and intensified. Several studies have revealed that while eco-tourism has been presented as a negotiated response to the imperatives of ecological preservation and community development, the profit-hungry tourism industry has focused on ecotourism, primarily to use it as a marketing ploy without regard for environmental and social justice issues.
The question is who benefits from tourism? The simple answer is the tourism industry, that part of the economy which caters to the tourist, those firms and establishments which have a common function supplying tourist needs. In any productive process consisting of services, human resources remain the basic need. The volume of manpower engaged in activities complimentary to tourism industry in West Bengal, is one of the highest in view of various sectors that are direct or indirect constituents of the industry. But the challenge remains to adequately respond to global and local challenges, if its growth is managed prudently, with an emphasis on ethics, poverty alleviation and sustainable environment. In this paper an attempt has been made to portray how eco-tourism model can address this issue.
Key Words: Sustainability, Tourism, Eco-tourism, Environment, Social Equity, Economy, Poverty alleviation.
Indians are the fastest growing travel spenders in the world.1 But the levels of inbound tourism have not grown to the potential, maybe due to inadequate infrastructural facilities and security measures. The vast potential and the need for rapid development was recognised only in the Seventh Plan (1985-1990), subsequent to which tourism was accorded the status of an Industry, thereby encouraging private investments in this sector. The national action plan for tourism (1992), defines the objectives of tourism development in India and the primary strategy for its development:
It is a unifying and a nation-building force, through fostering greater national and international understanding, particularly amongst the youth of the country. It serves to preserve and enrich India’s cultural heritage. It brings socio-economic benefits.
The strategy for achieving these objectives has been outlined as:
Improvement of tourist infrastructure
Developing areas on a selective basis for integrated growth, along with the marketing of destinations on the basis of a ‘Special Tourism Area’ concept. Restructuring and strengthening of institutions for development of human resources. Evolving a suitable policy for increasing foreign tourist arrivals and foreign exchange earnings.
Important Highlights of Indian Tourism:2
Number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals in India (million) in 2011 was 6.31 million and the Annual Growth Rate for the year 2010-2011 was 9.2%.
The number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during 2011 increased to 6.31 million as compared to 5.78 million in 2010. The growth rate in FTAs during 2011 over 2010 was 9.2% as compared to 11.8% during 2010 over 2009. The growth rate of 9.2% in 2011 for India was better than growth rate of 5% for the International Tourist Arrivals in 2011. The share of India in international tourist arrivals in 2011 was 0.64%, while being 0.61% in 2010. However, India's rank in the world improved to 38 in 2011 from 42 in 2010. India accounted for 2.9%...
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Ghosh,B.(2007):Tourism and Travel Management,15,165-166.
Cook, R.A.;Yale, L.J & Marqua, J.J. (2007): Tourism, The Business of Travel,11,367-368.
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