The heat of global warming and climate change is being felt everywhere. No wonder that speakers at the 8th Annual Tourism Summit in New Delhi, which had people from the hospitality industry and environmentalists participating, stressed on eco-tourism.
Mandip Singh Soni, chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) core group on eco and sustainable tourism, said that with global warming spreading its deadly tentacles on the globe, eco-tourism is the call of the day.
"In the process of ensuring that eco-tourism is encouraged and boosted, one has to remember that this is something which has to be inculcated deep into our psyche.
"Therefore why not introduce eco-tourism as a subject in schools and colleges? Responsibility, be it towards the environment or anything else, comes with a deep understanding of the issues involved, not just by listening to lectures and campaigns," Soni said.
He suggested e4ducating policy makers of state governments and sensitising them on environmental issues through workshops and lectures.
One of the common suggestions thrown up many speakers was that local communities in rural and tribal areas should be brought into the loop to help protect the environment.
Ravi Singh, CEO of WWF India, said that empowering the local communities in earning their livelihood through utilisation of their knowledge about their own environment is important.
To this Soni added that a number of initiatives have already been floated in this direction, but a lot more still needs to be done.
"For instance, we are trying to convince people who were poachers and hunters in Kerala and Nagaland to use their knowledge in becoming naturalists and tourist guides.
"In Chambal, which is a bio-diverse rich area in Madhya Pradesh and is notorious for its dacoits, we are working with the state government to turn the robbers towards looking at becoming naturalists as a means of livelihood," he said.
Sanjay Prakash, architect, pointed out some of the limitations that eco tourism faced.
"In all the resorts which are in the lap of nature, more than 20 tonnes of diesel is used to run the air conditioning system in the huts and cottages. Knowing this fact, which host will tell his guest not to switch on the air-conditioner, especially if the temperature outside is 45 degree Celsius?
"These problems are very convoluted and can't have a one-answer-to-all question kind of solution," Prakash said.
Some of the recommendations the speakers came up with were adoption of carbon reduction or carbon neutrality as a strategy through afforestation, formation of a popular environmental law and tourism courses run through the WWF for the tourism industry and implementation strategy for environmentally sensitive architecture all over India.
Besides eco-tourism, preservation of India's heritage and culture through public-private-partnership (PPP) and building of proper infrastructure, which can support the booming tourism industry, were the other subjects discussed.