The role of Responsible Tourism
In the last few decades a new branch of tourism emerged making its way between the tourism industry: Responsible Tourism. It operates according to the principles of social and economic justice and in full respect of the environment and cultures, puts at the center the local host community and its right to be the key player in the sustainable and socially responsible tourism development of its membership territory. Therefore, the main purpose that this alternative typology of tourism is determined to accomplish is encouraging positive interactions between the triangle: tourism industry, local communities, and the travelers. All the three parts have to be aware of the possible effects of their actions towards the local populations and the environment. Mass Tourism, in these perspectives, needs a specific historical digression. It could be considered a double-edged sword, as it gave the opportunity to the majority of the people to travel and reach remote destinations using different means of transport but, at the same time, it established, among other things, a standardization process, creation of stereotypes, an authenticity drop, pollution, accumulation of rubbish… Before its advent, only aristocratic classes had the privilege to travel for leisure motivations, for work and, finally, to experience a gap year far from home, an opportunity to grow. Mass Tourism practice, over time, has provoked permanent damages, ravaging the environment and bringing discomfort to local communities or even the escape of residents. Here, another analogous touristic dynamic comes into force: Overtourism, that is touristic overcrowding of a holiday destination. When talking about natural touristic destinations, such as reserves, oasis, beaches, parks and mountains, it is of fundamental importance that tourism respects the environment, including flora, fauna and microclimate. Instead, when the destination is a city, tourism has to mainly respect residents, as well as the local culture and archaeological sites, substantial microcosms that need to be protected. If this does not happen, it means that overtourism or unsustainable tourism for the place, for nature, for the people who live there is occurring. “Fortunately”, few touristic destinations in the world suffer from an excessive presence of tourists. There are various causes that come into play: from famous movies that make renowned specific places, to the ease it is possible to reach any world corner, to cruises that, having reduced costs, attract great presences of travelers around the seas. Another important factors that have to be mentioned are the role of social media, influencers, TV programs and movies in promoting potential destinations and the low-cost airlines, with their huge carbon footprints.
Responsible Tourism, as well as Slow and Sustainable Tourism, are a viable solution to remedy to spoiling actions, and it proposes authentic destinations that enrich local communities and those who invest in eco-friendly activities. Other useful strategies suggest avoiding overcrowded famous destinations and making known the nearby itineraries, since often do not visit the areas that people take for granted, but these very represent potential circuits to not underestimate. What residents avoid, tourists appreciate and special treasures exist turning at the corner. Tourists are gradually transforming their needs in travel issues and today the closer sites are at the center of a kind of trend. Here, Responsible Tourism sketches out its itineraries in order to allow visitors to discover different and authentic places.
Each one of us can react by behaving responsibly and opting for less touristic destinations, maybe travelling in off-season periods and, especially, respecting the places to visit and the residents who meet. Anyway, a travellers’ formation before the journey and more awareness to adopt during the travel execution are needed.
What about the local population? In this scenario, the local community too has the duty to act. It is fundamental to shed light on the assumption that the population should not adapt itself to tourist’s needs, the economy does not have to depend on seasonal touristic arrivals or presences. Responsible Tourism, as mentioned before, develops a specific territory, flanking the already current activities. In this way, it does not have to be considered the finish line but, instead, it symbolizes the means through which accomplishing a project’s objectives.
TGG India and Responsible Tourism
TGG India embraces Responsible Tourism and it makes itself available to conceive services for the rural areas and the nearby villages. Responsible Tourism intervenes underpinning local economic activities such as farming and handcraft, the possible presence of little hoteliers and can develop long-lasting benefits for the communities. From the elder to the younger people, all the inhabitants have to participate because they are the protagonists, and they must be engaged in decision processes and in the management of the touristic policies. In this perspective, the allocation of land ownership must be applied. A bottom-up strategy and a participatory system are the concrete starting point; then, the creation of a network is of fundamental importance, because if all the parts are involved (local population, entities, authorities and so on) the synergy leads to social consensus.
Sustainable Development Goals don’t have to be forgotten, these are essential guidelines to further increase employment opportunities and development, since they consider the geography, natural resources, habits, culture and traditions, history, social fabric and the literacy rate of rural areas. Sustainability, both from the environment and total duration point of view, is therefore the hearth of the activities planned in Responsible Tourism: organic food production (0 km), planting trees, sustainable building for guest houses for a minimal lifestyle, bamboo manufacturing, pottery, loom weaving and other traditional handicrafts and techniques will be encouraged by a circular economy. The opening of local guest houses to tourists defines revenues that may contribute to an equal allocation of resources, new funding to invest in and for the local community. Dynamics like that boost the territory and its additional development; furthermore, if prosecuted with pride, traditions will surely arouse tourists’ curiosity, as the purpose is to attract both domestic and foreign people. Heterogeneous groups represent a mutual exchange, a treasure to not to underestimate.
The current pandemic has accentuated the socio-economic disparities all over the world, and solidarity, inclusion, equality… are unavoidable values that today need to be adopted more than ever. This concept, together with Responsible Tourism, represents the engine of the purposes that TGG India wants to encourage and pursue.
TGG India provides a single-window solution to all rural development activities and projects. We work together with organizations that rigorously engage themselves in working for the welfare of society.
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