Sustainable Development Opportunities & Challenges in Tourism Sector in India

Amita Sarwade
Tourism is one economic sector in India that has the potential to grow at a high rate and ensure the development of infrastructure at the destinations. It has the capacity to capitalize on the country's success in the services sector and provide sustainable models of growth. In India, the travel and tourism sector is estimated to create 78 jobs per million rupees of investment, compared to 45 jobs in the manufacturing sector for similar investment. Along with construction, it is one of the
more » ... is one of the largest sectors of the service industry in India. Apart from providing employment to a wide spectrum of job seekers from the unskilled to the specialized, a higher proportion of tourism benefits (jobs, MSME trade opportunities), accrue to women. Moreover, emphasis would increasingly be given to organising more short-term courses for the unskilled workforce, as well as unemployed youth, on the pattern of 'Hunar-se-Rozgar' and 'skill certification of service providers'. Besides, strategies followed during the 11th Plan may have to be suitably recalibrated to take care of the challenges from competing countries and to harness the full potential of Indian tourism. Sustainable Tourism criteria for India (STCI) and indicators for hotels, tour operators have been finalized. Similarly, the criteria and indicators for rural tourism and home-stays are being evolved. Action will be initiated for Tourism industry constituents, not yet covered. The scope of Market Development Assistance scheme would be enlarged to cover participation of representatives of recognised national associations in workshops/ seminars on sustainable tourism, organised by reputed organisations in India or overseas. Training of various stake holders under the existing plan schemes of the Ministry. As tourism is a multi-sectoral activity, active convergence in the resources of various sectors involved in promotion of tourism at Central and State level is necessary for achieving the optimum result. The intention is that countrywide experiential tourism attractions get developed for the socioeconomic benefit of local communities, especially in order to strengthen inclusive economic growth. It is equally important to ensure that increased socioeconomic well-being does not cause permanent or long-term damage to the country's physical, cultural and environmental heritage. The use of existing resources, both tangible and intangible, has to be undertaken judiciously for the well-being of the present generation, but not at the cost of depriving future generations of any part of our inheritance. In 1988, the United Nations World Tourism organization (UNWTO) defined sustainable tourism as 'leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems'. Later in 1992, the 'Earth Summit' in Rio established the triple principles of environmental, economic and social sustainability. Since then, the principles of sustainable tourism have been adopted by the tourism industry worldwide. In India, the tourism sector is based on its unique endowments of biodiversity, forests, rivers, and its rich culture and heritage. The challenges in this sector lie in successfully preserving these in their original form, and making them accessible to domestic and international travelers, together with safeguarding the economic interest and heritage of local communities.