Tourists should give back to local community: Experts

Kumarakom (Kerala), June 28 (IANS) Experts taking part in a conference on responsible tourism here Friday pointed out that tourists do not only take photographs, enjoy hospitality and return with memories; they also give back to local communities.

Harold Goodwin, a professor at Leeds Metropolitan University and director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism said it was time to turf out “freeloaders” who add no value to the places they visit, and attract people who contribute something to the community by way of employment and revenue, cause little pollution, and contribute to the conservation of heritage.

“Kerala has managed to achieve so much in responsible tourism in so short a time due to the strength of its local bodies, which are exercising responsibilities,” Goodwin said, adding that it was necessary now to stretch targets in this regard.

More than 150 experts are taking part in a three-day programme organised by Kerala Tourism.

Karma Tshering, the chief for Nature Recreation and Ecotourism in Bhutan, spoke about the Himalayan kingdom’s tourism policy that aims at “high value and low impact” and a revenue generation mechanism that ensures relatively high earnings for low tourist arrivals.

“Bhutan’s tourism policy that draws influential and socially responsible tourists has helped preserve the pristine natural landscapes and culture and traditions unique to the region, at the same time generating revenues and employment,” Tshering said.

Srilal Miththapala, an experienced tourism professional from Sri Lanka, said sustainability was not just about the environment, but made good long-term business sense too.

“Sri Lanka has now drafted policies that aim at regulating exploitative practices, and involving local people in tourism. Its hotels are increasingly adopting greener measures,” Miththapala said.

Field experiences on responsible tourism in the country were shared by hotel groups that have been recognised for adopting sustainable tourism practices.

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