After a long interval, the Ministry of Tourism has again started a discussion on a National Strategy on Sustainable Tourism with a Draft being circulated for feedback from the trade and industry in the country. Tourism Secretary, Arvind Singh mentioned about the draft in a recent virtual seminar organised by the RTSOI.
Reacting to the new strategy document on Sustainable Tourism, Soin, who has played a key leadership role in finalising the STCI framework a few years back, said that while it is a “good start” on the part of the government, it should cover the stakeholders from all segments of the tourism eco-system to make it purposeful. He said that as per the draft, it would cover only the eco-tourism products and operators as well as the adventure tour operators and products. Limiting it to any segment of travel and tourism or leaving the rest of the tourism sector from its ambit would dilute the purpose and will not produce the desired results, Soin said.
“Creating mere pockets of excellence would not serve any purpose,” he said. Soin said that all segments of travel and tourism should join hands and move together to create an impactful sustainable model for India. This is the reason why RTSOI had invited representatives from different segments of the industry for the recent webinar on Sustainable Tourism organised a few days before World Environment Day, he said.
“If we don’t take care of our environment, we will be shooting ourselves in the foot,” that was the overarching feeling, he said, because without a clean environment there will be no tourism. Soin felt that it is time that both the industry as well as travellers work on “self-regulation” and for that huge consciousness building exercise is required in the trade community as well as the society at large. He said that the RTSOI has proposed a ‘Responsible Traveller’ campaign jointly with the Ministry of Tourism to inculcate awareness about responsible travel in the society in the light of the pandemic.
When asked about the stalemate that is going on in Lakshadweep Islands and the tourism development model being debated over there, Soin said that the society has a clear view on that which has been expressed publicly by one of its board members – Jose Dominic. As a responsible body working for sustainable and responsible tourism, RTSOI will convey its concerns to the government on the issue at the right time, Soin said. “However, we don’t want to take an activist role on the issue. But we will definitely express our discontentment on the issue to the government,” Soin stated.Expressing strong dissent on the Maldives model of development, Soin said that “it is not a sustainable tourism development model.” They are facing terrible problems due to lack of proper sewage treatment and other problems adversely impacting the corals and marine life in many islands, he said. “Water villas may look very attractive from outside, but they are not very sustainable in the long run,” he stated.