Head of the United Nations (UN) In India, Shombi Sharp, told the national summit in Delhi on June 4 that tourism has been included as targets in goals 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and 14 (Life Below Water). He said that tourism in India has the potential to contribute directly or indirectly to all the 2030 sustainable development goals of the UN.
The UN was a partner in the day-long summit organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, and the Responsible Tourism Society of India, with high level participation from several states and other stakeholders.
The UN head in India also spoke of the need to eliminate single use plastic at tourist destinations – a point made by other delegates as well.
Interesting case studies were made by states like Kerala, Sikkim, and Madhya Pradesh to emphasize the need to have a thrust on sustainable tourism. Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI) leaders like Rakesh Mathur spoke about how the concept of sustainable tourism is being advanced. Mandip Soin of Ibex also emphasized the need to focus on sustainability, providing his own example.
Senior officials of the Indian Institute of Travel and Tourism Management (IITTM) revealed what the organization has been doing and also what more needs to be done for green tourism and skill development, where the multiple-center institute has been playing an important role. The presence of young students from the IITTM added greater relevance to the summit, where the focus was also on responsible travelers, not just tourism stakeholders.
Secretary of Tourism Arvind Singh sat through the deliberations of this serious subject, all coinciding on World Environment Day, June 5.
The India Ministry of Tourism has prepared a national strategy for sustainable tourism, developed in consultation with other relevant ministries, state governments, and industry stakeholders. The Ministry has designated the IITTM as the central nodal agency to assist the ministry in the implementation of the sustainable tourism strategy.
As part of the summit, the participants took a pledge to explore travel to remote and lesser-known destinations as well as stay-at-home holidays offered by local communities.
It was noted that the responsible traveler should opt for service providers promoting sustainable tourism practices. Additionally, travelers should promote the local economy by buying local produce at fair prices. Further, it is of utmost importance that travelers do not disturb or harm the natural habitat and surroundings of where they visit.
How the summit papers and subjects are implemented in the next 8 years will be watched with great interest.