Socially Responsible Tourism
Over the past few decades, the exponential rise in tourism world over has led to the tourism industry consolidating itself as one of the major contributors to a nation’s revenue. Traveling to other regions and countries, absorbing alien cultures firsthand and interacting with the local people is a desire harbored by most people. Tourism propels an influx of foreign currency which makes it a lucrative prospect for any nation.
Mass tourism however, is not without its downside and over a period of time, it can lead to severe violation of the environment and exploitation of the local population. This has prompted countries to re-analyze their tourism related policies. Post ‘Earth Summit 92’, ‘Eco Tourism’ became the buzzword in environmental circles with the general focus shifting to the conservation of the environment and the economic sustenance of those dependant on it. With the concept of ‘Responsible Tourism’, an offset of ‘Eco Tourism’, gaining prominence among the masses in the wake of escalating environmental concerns, indigenous communities have an opportunity to benefit economically by preserving the environment along with their unique cultural traditions.
Kerala has been quick to respond to the call for Responsible Tourism which is the central motif for all its tourism policies. Several measures are underway to ensure that the alluring elegance of this mystical land remains untarnished, and that the revenue generated from tourism trickles down to the local community as well. However since there are no universally accepted standards, the concept of ‘Responsible Tourism’ is entirely dependent on the choices travelers make. In order to compete with mainstream tourism, the governing bodies are trying to make sure that the highest quality is maintained while meeting consumer demands. Through awareness programs, tourists can be familiarized with the cultural and social identity of Kerala so that they can better relate to its socio-cultural ethos and make conscientious and responsible decisions that further the universal cause of ‘Responsible Tourism’.