Understanding the responsibility of sustainability in tourism
“Sustainable Tourism” has been one of the top travel trends in India for the past couple of years and the conversations around the same have gained noteworthy popularity. However, when most of us talk about sustainable travel, we tend to imagine traveling to remote places and exploring off-beat itineraries wherein one can immerse in natural surroundings and participate in eco-conscious activities. While that is one way to put it, sustainability is not just an array of environment-friendly endeavours, it is indeed a way of life and can be practiced even if one in nestled among the hustles and bustles of city life.
For example, Bahrain is an island country and is mostly identified for its cityscapes and high-rise buildings alongside the coastline. However, the island nation comprises a small archipelago made up of 70 natural islands and an additional 33 artificial islands, centered around Bahrain Island which makes up around 83 percent of the country's landmass. Hence, the nation is surrounded by the presence of rich marine life and is threatened by any sort of plastic wastage and tourist litters. While the Government has undertaken multiple measures to arrest the use of plastic in the country, as responsible tourists, it is extremely crucial to prohibit the use of plastic bags and instead carry reusable cloth bags.
When it comes to propagating sustainability, it is not restricted to the role of the country’s respective Governments; in fact, as their country representatives and consultants to the tourism boards, we need to step up and treat this with equal importance to create a sustainable future for travel as well as the harmony of our eco-system. A lot of our trade and media partners promote sustainable itineraries for eager and eco-conscious travellers; however, it is pivotal to promote sustainability as an element in every itinerary. Although it might sound challenging to begin with, but every little effort has the potential to make this world a better place. Here are some baby steps which we all can follow to begin with –
Identify hotels and hospitality brands exercising eco-friendly measures in their respective properties and award them for their efforts. Highlight their activities and encourage travellers to choose them for their upcoming stays through promotions and word of mouth
Encourage travellers to choose slow modes of transportation and walk short distances wherever possible and preferably travel together instead of private cars. These little steps might add up and reduce pollution and excessive fuel consumption
Promote luxurious yet nature-friend stay options wherein one can participate in conservation activities and are fuelled by organic farming, solar energy etc. Choosing these experiences will not only add value to the environment but also the lives of the locals in the surroundings
Educate travellers through articles as well as e-mailers on sustainable habits they can inculcate while traveling such as – avoiding litter, consuming small portions of food to reduce wastage, carrying plastic-free luggage and bare minimum clothes andaccessories, purchasing from local stores instead of big brands etc.
Moreover, when it comes to destinations like Bahrain, big-fat-Indian-weddings are one of the most frequently held events. As we know, even for a destination wedding the footfalls may range between 200-2000 guests per wedding thus paving way for environmental degradation. However, with conscious and collective efforts from the Bahrain authorities and Indian wedding planners, guests and organizers; these large-scale weddings can also be monitored and made eco-friendly. Provided that Bahrain is culturally rich and has a plethora of artistic alternatives, couples can always opt for sourcing locally produced sets, designs, food, gifts and hire local artists instead of carrying them all the way from India.
While profitability continues to be the primary target for each business, including the travel and tourism sector; it is pivotal that we treat sustainability as an investment for the future of travel rather than an unnecessary expenditure. As we device business strategies for the recovery of travel from the aftereffects of COVID-19 imposed lockdowns and restrictions, let us lead with the approach of not just making profit margins but making difference in our lives and our environment.
To conclude, we can agree that sustainability, much like traveling, is a journey and hence cannot be covered overnight. While most of us have initiated our efforts to tread on the path, the goal can only be achieved if we collectively continue to practice and preach it in our daily lives.
On World Environment Day 2021, let’s pledge to align our business strategies to the annual theme – “Ecosystem Restoration” so that while we add footprints across the globe as we travel, we make conscious efforts to reduce the generation of our individual carbon footprints.