Responsible tourism is a new concept in the tourism industry. This concept was developed by Jost Krippendorf in the 1980’s. His aim was to “to develop and promote new forms of tourism, which will bring the greatest possible benefit to all the participants – travelers, the host population and the tourist business, without causing intolerable ecological and social damage.”
Responsible tourism can be defined as ” tourism which creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit”. Some of the main objectives of Responsible tourism are as follows:
1.To respect local cultures – traditions, religions and built heritage.
2. To protect the environment – its flora, fauna and landscapes.
3. To conserve natural resources – from source to destination.
4. To benefit local communities – both economically and socially.
5. To minimize pollution – through noise, waste disposal and congestion.
In a nut shell, Responsible tourism is that form of tourism in which initiatives and responsibilities are taken by both the tourists and the travel agencies to maximize the positive impacts and minimize the negative impacts on environment, traditions and cultural heritage of the region.
Responsible Tourism is rapidly growing global trend. Some of the nations like South Africa, the United Kingdom, United States, the Gambia, Sri Lanka and India are already practicing Responsible Tourism and gradually other nations are also following the ideologies of these countries.
India has an abundant scope to emerge as a Responsible tourism destination. Indian tourism industry has grown immensely in the last five years and it is for sure that in the upcoming years India will become a hot tourist destination of South East Asia. To sustain this growth process it is necessary that all the stakeholders of the Indian tourism industry ie tour operators, government agencies and NGO’s must work in cohesion. They must protect the heritage of our country which in turn will benefit both the local communities and the tourists.
To develop India as a Responsible tourism destination, ICRT India which stands for International Centre For Resposible Tourism works in collaboration with private sector, government and local communities. It is a Bangolore based non-profit organization, establishes in 2006, whose main objective is to “take responsibility for achieving sustainable tourism, and to create better places for people to live in and for people to visit.” It provides policy advice, research and consultation on developing Responsible Tourism in India.
Among all Indian states, Kerala has pioneered in practicing innovative tourism ideas. It is a state which is rich in traditions and culture. It has started Responsible tourism in the state to create awareness among all stakeholders for a better environment to live and visit. Kerala has organized the second International Responsible tourism conference from 21st March to 24th March, 2008.
Some of the successful Responsible tourism projects of India are –
“Sunderban Jungle Camp” initiated by Help Tourism group to connect the heritage sites and protected areas of Sunderban with the livelihood of the local communities through community-based, environmentally and socially responsible tourism.
“Awake and shine” is another successful Responsible Tourism project. This project was started by Retired Indian Army General “Jimmy” Singh in May 2006 to develop the Samthar Plateau near Kalimpong(40km) as a tourist destination depending on the homestay holidays, local handicrafts and other products. This project has helped the local community to improve their life style and the region to make its mark on the Indian tourist map.
Another the Responsible Tourism project of India is in the Anakkara Spice Tourism village in Idukki district of Kerala. This project was started in October 2004 by Women in Agriculture (WIA), a group of women who has joined hands to preserve nature, share benefits of tourism among the local populace and boost the local economy. This project has enable these ladies to improve their standard of living by providing their share of income in the well being of their family.