The green route

World Tourism Day

The green route
It is an industry that has grown by leaps and bounds over decades. Tourism has some mind-boggling numbers to show as millions of people travel around the globe every day, for leisure or business. But amidst all the chaos and excitement, the word ‘sustainability’ seems to have taken a backseat.

The need for a discourse around this aspect has been highlighted with the theme for this year’s ‘World Tourism Day’, which is ‘Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development’.

Jan Joseph George, a photographer, says, “As an avid traveller, I believe that sustainable tourism is an important aspect that every traveller should keep in mind. Most tourist spots are sensitive to the outside world and we should make sure not to disturb the natural equilibrium and ecosystem.”

He says that whenever he is travelling, he makes sure he does his bit by not littering and also picking up after others as far as possible. “Sustainable tourism is very important to maintain the harmony of nature and promoting this is the only way people can become more aware. There should also be a conscious effort on the part of the travellers to become more responsible. Meghalaya, for instance, is one of the cleanest places I have visited as there is an awareness among locals and tourists about maintaining the balance of the ecosystem.”

‘Indiahikes’, a trekking community, started an initiative called ‘Green Trails’ six years ago. This initiative aims to leave the mountains in a better condition by encouraging trekkers to clean the litter left behind by others and taking this down so it can be disposed off appropriately. Sandhya U C, the co-founder of ‘Indiahikes’ says, “All of us want to see pristine mountains but with many trekkers visiting these places now, the tracks are littered with leftover food, tin cans and plastic bottles. Even the locals, especially children, dump rubbish like candy wraps in these areas. With the ‘Green Trail’ initiative, we provide our trekkers with eco-bags and encourage them to pick up the waste on their way.”

She points out that responsible travellers can start with a small step by not consuming packaged food and having the food made by the local people. This way, one will lessen the waste generated while cooking and also help the locals generate an income.

Amit Shetty, co-founder of ‘Campmonk.com’, a campsite listing and aggregator platform which also curates camping related experiences, says, “We are strongly rooted in the principles of responsible travel and sustainability. Camping is one of the least destructive methods of tourism — it’s cost-effective and highly sustainable. It involves many outdoor activities like kayaking, mountain biking and trekking and this helps in infusing funds into the local market. We promote zero trace camping to leave the land better than we found it.”

Amit highlights the fact that unbridled tourism can sound a death knell for any place as it could become one of the largest polluters of the water, air and soil of the place. With more and more people willing to hit the road to explore offbeat and commercial places, sustainable tourism could be the key to the future.

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