We are Indians, like to tour various places- whether it’s an odyssey or a sojourn, we pack our bags in holidays or in our leisure times. Thus, tourism is one of the stupendous sources of income in India as well as in the universe. Being a people-oriented industry, tourism also employs the local people, which have helped rejuvenate local economies. As every good thing has a positive side as well as a negative side, tourism also has its problems, such as social dislocation, loss of cultural heritage, economic dependence and ecological degradation. As more countries and parts of the world develop their tourism industry, it produces noteworthy impacts on natural resources, toxic wastes, greenhouse gases, and dismal social systems. Thus, the need for sustainable tourism is paramount for this industry to endure as a whole. UNO opines, all tourism activities of whatever motivation – holidays, business travel, conferences, adventure travel, and ecotourism – need to be sustainable. Sustainable tourism is defined as “tourism that respects both local people and the traveler, cultural heritage and the environment”.
Due to the unsustainable tourism, it’s impacting on the weather; especially the boundless use of fossil fuel damaging the climate in every whisker. A survey reveals, 72% of tourism’s carbon-dioxide emissions come from transports, 24% from accommodations, and 4% from local activities. From these, 55% of carbon emissions are caused only by aviation. However, when taking into account the impact of all greenhouse gas emissions from tourism and those emissions from aviation are made at high altitudes which affect climate is augmented, aviation alone responsible for 75% of tourism’s climate impact. The greenhouse gases (GHG) are the core culprit for global warming. For every 1 degree rise in temperature above 34 degrees Celsius, yields of rice, maize, and wheat in tropical areas could drop by 10%. Still, every year we chuck almost 40 million tons of carbon pollution into our atmosphere. The data released by the World Tourism Organization (2008) revealed that emissions from national and international sources generated by tourism in these three sectors of the production chain, represent around 4.9% of global GHG emissions.
Under a climate change scenario, it is indispensable to imitate the idea about the global context, its causes, and its consequences. As a direct impact, climate change is related not only to the loss of biodiversity and increase in natural hazards but also to social impacts as it threatens the trade and industry growth and political constancy of nations. Tourism and Climate change both directly affect the basic elements of life on the planet, such as access to water, food production, health, and the environment, causing increased pressure on natural resources combined with growing urbanization, industrialization, and economic development. Travelers are impacting the water resources too. Let’s see some examples. A luxury hotel room visitor in a developed country uses 1800 liters of water per person per night, whereas a village of 700 people in a developing country consumes only an average of 500 liters of water per month! Although the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas recycles its water – it still uses 12 million liters of water per year in a water-scarce region.
Tourism is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries nowadays. Countries invite people around the world to visit their place but the very resources people promote through tourism are in danger of degradation. Wildlife and habitat are impacting every passing whisker as the climate is changing swiftly. A species of animal or plant life disappears at a rate of one every three minutes. 70% of marine mammals are in jeopardy. More than 80% of the world’s coral reefs are at peril. Nearly 2/3 of Caribbean reefs are in trouble and it is reported that 90% of coral reefs will die by 2050. By 2050 climate change could have unswervingly led to the destruction of 30% of species, the death of 90% of coral reefs and the loss of half the Amazon rainforest. Besides these, 35% of mangroves have been already destroyed. In this condition, when a tourist is visiting a yurt in eastern Tibet, trekking to a remote village in Timbuktu in Mali, kayaking the seas of the Caribbean and South Pacific – these are all wonderful experiences but the assets upon which these experiences are based must be preserved properly. When a community welcomes a traveler with warm smiles, he experiences local cuisine, see a primeval historic site – he may not be the only one to do so – but he can pledge it is preserved and confined for future travelers and ethnicity and people respected. When anyone witnesses a lagoon hovering with trash or a once stunning landscape paved with tangible, he must also apprehend that if the doctrine of sustainable tourism is not put into action, then each one of these amazing destinations will lose their demand, ecological worth, natural beauty and ultimately, their prosperity.
Recent reports show us, international tourist arrivals have increased from 25 million globally in 1950, to 278 million in 1980, 527 million in 1995, and 1.32 billion in 2017. They are expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030. Thus, travel and tourism represent approximately 10% of the total global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016. The global travel and tourism industry creates approximately 11% of the world’s employment in 2016. Moreover, as a negative impact, at least 25 million people spread over 52 countries are displaced by violence, persecution and/or disasters – tourism receipts in every country are affected by this. Besides that, almost 10,000 people arrive in the Mayan Riviera every day – a destination where there is still no proper recycling. In addition to that, the Western world (with 17% of the worlds’ population) currently consumes 52% of total global energy. A European uses 14x more energy than someone living in India.
World satraps and environmental organizations are started thinking about sustainable tourism in the second half of the first decade of 2000. According to the report, “Climate Change and Tourism: Responding to Global Challenges”, prepared by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), resulting from the 2nd Inter-national Conference on Climate Change and Tourism (Davos, Switzerland, 1-3 October 2007), climate; Impacts of mobility policies and the reduction of tourism; and Indirect impacts of social change (Brasil, 2008). After a decade of these, still, the awareness of sustainable tourism is not up to mark. Tourism may never be completely sustainable as every industry has impacts, but it can work towards becoming more sustainable to save our blue earth.