Sustainable Tourism: A Tool for Development

Sustainable Tourism: A Tool for Development
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By Shah Younis

Kashmir, rich in natural resources with outstanding lush green mountains , streams, rivers and lakes is resplendent with natural beauty. It attracts tourists all over. The valley’s climate fascinates the heart of tourists from the different corners of the world and makes them visit it .In summer these green mountains, springs make the memories of visit , and in winter these green mountains covered with snow blanket with frozen springs, rivers are natural habitats for adventure activities. The valley of Kashmir is bestow by innumerable natural resources but the need of the hour is to utilize these resources sustainably.
For the preservation of natural resources throughout the world, the United Nation World Tourism Organization is going to conduct the International World Tourism Day on the theme of “Sustainable Tourism: A Tool of Development “ in Qatar on the 27th September, 2017. The event is structured around the two sessions focusing on “Tourism is a driver of economic growth and Tourism the planet committed to a green future”. In addition, high level think tanks will commence the debate on the potential of the sector to enhance the preservation and mutual understanding throughout the world.
Together with the event to be conducted in Qatar, the world Tourism day will be celebrated across the globe. The UNWTO has invited the tourism community including travelers, private sector, governments and civil society to join the celebration. This event constitutes the best opportunity for the Jammu and Kashmir government to conduct events in different places to make people aware about the importance of world tourism day for sustainable development and make the valley a well planned sustainable tourist destination.
It is essential to explore the principles and objective of sustainable development in tourism first to define the term “Sustainable Development “. Despite the widespread acceptance of the term sustainable development, there remains a lack of consensus over the actual meaning of this term. It means different things to different people and can be used in many contexts, including tourism; nonetheless, the most general but accurate is the definition provided by the Bruntland Report. According to it “sustainable development is one that meets the needs of the present generation without comprising the ability for future generations to meet the own needs”. This definition identifies some important principles given below, for planners to plan sustainable destination development
*Take a holistic approach towards planning;
*Protect the environment (biodiversity) and man -made heritage;
*Preserve the essential ecological processes
*Facilitate and engage public participation;
*Ensure that productivity can be sustained in the long run;
*Provide a better level of fairness and opportunity between different countries.
The concept of sustainable development is based on three pillars: economic development, environmental protection and social development. It is possible in Kashmir when all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership will ensure participation and consensus building. Achieving sustainable tourism in Kashmir is a continuous process and it requires constant monitoring of the impact, introducing the necessary preventive and corrective measures whenever necessary. Sustainable tourism should also maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction and ensure meaningful experience of the tourists, raising their awareness about sustainable issues and promoting sustainable tourism practices among them.
Sustainable tourism is concerned particularly on important aspects such as competitive and socially responsible tourism businesses, the opportunity to participate in tourism for all citizens, good employment opportunities in the sector and benefits from tourism activities for the local community. This requires the preservation of cultural integrity and the integration of environmental protection and cultural heritage resource in programs related in tourism. Extensive attempts to implement the principles of sustainable tourism development are made both at the regional level and at the level of tourism enterprises.
The overloaded or load pressure of the destination degrades natural resource which are more fragile. It is important to use the proper mechanism of carrying capacity in which the tourists should be allowed to visit .The intensive crowds at the places will degrade these pivotal resources. We should follow proper planning and involve the community people and well professional people in this economic boosting sector to make Kashmir a well planned world class sustainable tourist destination.

—The author is pursuing Masters of Tourism and Travel management at Kashmir university. He can be reached at: shahyounis1994@gmail.com

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