Local communities’ role crucial in responsible tourism, say experts
Tourism experts have called for greater participation in realising the potential and goals of the concept of responsible tourism. The ongoing International Conference on Responsible Tourism being held at Kumarakom witnessed global experts urging local communities to make decisions and set goals for developing their towns and villages in order to attract tourists.
Harold Goodwin, professor of Responsible Tourism Management at Leeds Metropolitan University, said the goals of responsible tourism must include sustainability, improved living standards of local people, lower carbon emissions and animal welfare. He added that the methods to achieve economic, social and environmental development must be formed at local-levels with the complete involvement of the local people.
“Kerala has managed to achieve much in responsible tourism in short time due to the strength of its local bodies that have taken up various responsibilities. Though it has made a lot of progress in the economic development of villages through responsible tourism, it is time for it to set a target and take it to the next level”, he said.
He pointed out the need to attract visitors who can contribute to the local community by way of employment and revenues, and to the conservation of the heritage. Karma Tshering, Chief of Nature, Recreation and Ecotourism Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan, said that his country aimed at “high value and low impact” through its tourism policy and a revenue generation mechanism that ensures relatively high earnings for limited tourist arrivals. According to him, the tourism policy has drawn socially responsible tourists and has helped preserve the pristine natural landscapes, culture and traditions that are unique to the region.