Sustainable Tourism for India

Agra tajmahal
Agra tajmahal

The Union Minister for Tourism Shri Shripad Naik here today launched the Comprehensive Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India (STCI) for Accommodation, Tour Operators and Beaches, Backwaters, Lakes & Rivers Sectors. Speaking on the occasion the Minister said, his Ministry is committed to develop tourism in India based on the principles of sustainability, minimizing the carbon footprints. Government has ensured that strategies for development of tourism are not in conflict with the environment and have minimal negative impact. Shri Naik urged all the stakeholders in the Tourism industry not to over-exploit natural and other resources for short-term gains.

He said, when we talk about sustainability we should not only talk about conservation of resources but also our culture and heritage. The authors of the STCI have adopted a comprehensive approach. The principles of the Sustainability as has been elaborated earlier include conservation of water, energy, culture, heritage, revival of ancient architecture, involvement of communities, protection of wildlife and non- exploitation of women, children and weaker sections.

Shri Naik said, the exercise of implementation of Sustainable Tourism Criteria must be all inclusive. The criteria must be implemented for success by all of us together – the hoteliers, the tour operators, the tourists, the opinion makers, the media, the community leaders and members. The Ministry would like sustainability criteria to be implemented on voluntary basis based on the principles of providing incentives.

The Finance Minister as part of the common vision of our Government in his Budget Speech has made special allocation of Rs. 900 crore for development of five new tourism circuits, development of pilgrimage centers, archeological sites and heritage cities. He said, the issue of sustainability assumes greater significance in context of India as we support one fifth of the population of the world with only 2.3 percent land mass available.

Shri Naik urged all the stakeholders in the Tourism Industry to be eco-sensitive and adopt the Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India and do business for long-term benefits with the objectives of creating employment, generating national income, preserving our cultural & natural heritage, enhancing the status of women and underprivileged and facilitating growth of a more just and fair social order.

Later, Shri Naik also inaugurated the Sensitization Workshop for the stakeholders on STCI wherein panel discussions were held. Both the initiatives are part of activities/programmes that have been taken up by the Ministry of Tourism for completion within the 100 days of the incumbent Government. Deputy Director for Sustainable Development of Tourism, UNWTO Ms. Sofia Gutierrez, President of the Development Alternative, Mr. George C. Varughese, leaders of Tourism Industry and experts in the field participated in the two events.

Ministry of Tourism constituted a Steering Committee with representatives from all the 14 sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry of India to formulate the Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The Committee has since finalized the Comprehensive STCI. These are the guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business for State Governments should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain India’s natural and cultural resources, while ensuring development of tourism in India are not in conflict with the environment and have minimal negative effect. Sustainability is imperative for all tourism stakeholders and must translate from words to actions.