Tourism is a non-polluting industry as they are not factories with large chimneys to belch out smokes. It is one of the bigger industries which provide ample investment opportunities and provides large number of employment. Moreover, Tourism industry is linked to the idea of people travelling to other locations, either domestically or internationally, for leisure, social or business purposes. It is closely connected to the hotel industry, the hospitality industry and the transport industry, and much of it is based around keeping tourists happy, occupied and equipped with the things they need during their time away from home. Sustainable Tourism is a ‘different thought’ in the tourism industry as this theory demands to have zero or low carbon foot-print and cause minimum harm to natural setting.
So, Sustainable Tourism is a concept that covers the complete tourism experience, including concern for economic, social and environmental issues as well as attention to improving tourists’ experiences and addressing the needs of host communities.
Global tourism accounts for about eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. This percentage takes into account airlines transportation as well as other significant environmental and social impacts that are not always beneficial to local communities and their economies. Tourist development organizations are promoting sustainable tourism practices in order to mitigate negative effects caused by the growing impact of tourism. Challenges related to sustainable tourism include displacement and resettlement, environmental impacts and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation emphasized these practices by promoting tourism as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, through programmes like the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development in 2017. There is a direct link between sustainable tourism and all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).Tourism for SDGs focuses on how SDG 8, SDG 12 and SDG 14 implicate tourism in creating a sustainable economy. Improvements are expected to be gained from suitable management aspects and including sustainable tourism as part of a broader sustainable development strategy.
Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation Programme (TRPAP) is an initiative of the Nepal Government toward eco-tourism in Nepal with technical and financial support from various international development agencies and non-government organizations which supports to the poverty alleviation objective of the government through sustainable tourism development that is pro-poor, pro-environment, pro-rural communities and pro-women, making the benefits of tourism reach grass-roots level in the specific programme sites. Eco-tourism is the only model that still shows constant improvement for its sustainability. Basic tourism infrastructure and facilities such as clean drinking water, sanitation, transportation system and roadways are fundamentals to attract more tourists for sustainable tourism development in Nepal. Basic infrastructures and facilities are if available, flow of tourists will increase simultaneously. That will result to widen the economy of the local stakeholders. Developments on the major trekking trails especially on the Annapurna and Everest region have been a serious concern to both the environmentalists and locals and for the ecotourism. Because of the increased number of tourist and teahouses in the trekking trails and unplanned road connectivity, indirectly increased the demand of wood and fuel which led deforestation as well spoilt the nature. Another problem is the solid waste management. Waste matter such as plastic materials, oxygen cylinder and so on, in the trekking trial has been increasing rapidly. As a consequence of lack of proper mechanism for waste management, this has been a big challenge.
So as, managing balance between human and nature is equally a big challenge to the tourism industry. In one hand tourism is creating opportunities and the other hand there is a big challenge for its sustainability. In this context, experts realise ecotourism as the only tool for sustainable tourism development providing maximum benefits for local communities with environmental conservation through maximum involvement of all stakeholders. Though ecotourism is the high priority of Nepal government and it is putting efforts to make sustainable, still there are many laps in this industry. So the industry must not delay further to implement the principles of ecotourism for its sustainability.
Remarkably, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), launched the Sustainable Tourism for Livelihood Recovery Project (STLRP).
The project is aimed at bringing relief, especially to the workers and labourers in the tourism sector. A total of US dollar 2.05 million- USD 1 million from NTB and USD 1.05 million from UNDP – will be utilized in a period of 2.5 years for the project. According to NTB, the project aims at providing relief to about 5,000 workers in the tourism sector by creating short-term employment. Similarly, NTB is aiming to provide employment to more than 2,000 people in partnership with local governments across the country. (By R. P. Narayan)