‘Developing a cultural and ecological conscience’
The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations (United Nations: Rio declaration on environment and development, 1992).
A statement that is profound in its essence and needs the entire mankind to come together for its fulfilment. Well the world comes together from travelling and the tourism industry that enables the same is also one of the leading contributors to global warming & climate change. Although the industry is the biggest employer globally, yet some believe that the impacts it has on the climate
of the planet is far more damaging than the scale at which it is currently contributing to global economy. There is urgent need to ensure that the industry addresses the impacts that it has on the ecology and socio-cultural environments of destinations and subsequently works towards developing an alternate model of responsible eco-travel that mitigates the negative impacts of conventional tourism and maximizes gains for the host communities and their socio-cultural and natural
Responsible eco-travel offers an opportunity to protect and conserve natural areas while capitalising on the economic development and diversification that tourism can bring to a community. It is the ideal solution to the long term needs of the industry since the very survival of the tourism sector depends largely on the conservation of the resources on which it thrives.
At the UN Conference on Environment and Development, WTO adopted the following definition for sustainable tourism
‘Sustainable tourism meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future. It
is envisaged as leading to management of all the resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and life support systems. Sustainable tourism products are those which are operated in harmony with the local environment, community and cultures, so that these become the permanent beneficiaries and not the victims of tourism development.’
For the convenience of this policy document we will be using the term Responsible Eco-Travel as an all encompassing term and adopt the above definition for the promotion and development of the same in the Spiti valley.
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