Industry for inclusivity

World Tourism Day 2021 theme of ‘Inclusive Growth in Tourism’ saw everyone in agreement, right from the ministry, government officials, association heads and industry stakeholders.

G Kishan Reddy, Union Minister- Tourism, Culture and DoNER
In destinations like Ladakh, for tourism to develop community partnership is very important. There is a need to develop overall tourism along with focussing on creating a professional skilled workforce. Tourism can be a game changer for the country, which can bring socio-economic revolution in the nation especially in the Northeastern states. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision has been to use tourism as a tool for employment generation and inclusive development. The tourism sector has the highest job creating potential in the country among the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.

Shripad Yesso Naik, MoS, Tourism
The revival of tourism plays an important role in the recovery of global economy. Tourism sustainability is relevant for both developed and developing countries for its impacts on the environment, economy, and socio-cultural aspects of global, regional, and local economies. by adopting responsible tourism practices. Tourism plays an important role in the upliftment and involvement of the local community with hospitality industry and government departments, leading to empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.

Aaditya Thackeray, Minister of Tourism & Environment, Maharashtra
I am proud that our state has taken the lead in agri-tourism. The concept of 30% Krishi Yojana proposed by the Agriculture Minister Dadasaheb Bhuse for women farmers is highly commendable. More than 60% of the country’s population engage in agriculture and it is crucial to link agriculture to tourism. Agri-tourism is instrumental for employment generation and economic improvement especially in these pandemic times when people have lost jobs. Agri-tourism has given us the opportunity to bring together the two major sectors: tourism and agriculture. The current pandemic offers an opportunity to grow agri-tourism in India. One of the safest ways to enjoy travel right now is to visit rural areas.

Arvind Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism
This year’s World Tourism Day, with its theme Inclusive Growth for Tourism is at a critical moment, as counties around the world look up to tourism for driving economic recovery. It’s time to look beyond tourism statistics and acknowledge that behind every number is a person. We, at MOT, invite everyone to celebrate tourism’s unique ability to ensure that nobody is left behind as the world begins to open and looks to the future. Inclusiveness is the essence of the ethos with which we are celebrating this 75th Anniversary of our Independence Day and we are calling it as the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav India @75. Most of our activities going forward will be focused around this campaign, and we will make sure that it reaches worldwide.

G Kamala Vardhan Rao, DG, Ministry of Tourism
One must consider local needs when it comes to tourism. In responsible or inclusive tourism, local people try to come out and enhance their skills to suit the needs of five-star properties in the area. In Kumarakom, Kerala for example, local self-help groups by ladies prepare fish and supply vegetables, linen, drinking water as well as coconut water to 5-star properties in the region. There are around seven 5-star hotels and over 200 hotels in Kumarakom and the supply chain management has been taken over by the local population. Local institutions and state governments have given this training to them. Hence, I insist that state governments should actively get involved into developing responsible tourism.

Rupinder Brar, ADG, Ministry of Tourism
It’s a good thing that UNWTO has recognised inclusiveness as the theme for this World Tourism Day. For a country like India, we are looking at tourism, travel and hospitality providing a huge amount of employment opportunities across the socio-economic spectrum. It’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone to work with a strategic focus on creating inclusiveness in our sector because in India the experiential possibilities, in terms of magnitude and offerings, are immense. This provides all of us, including the government and the stakeholders of the industry, an amazing opportunity to work at the grassroot level to ensure community involvement and to make sure that there are many benefits that can flow back to society at large through inclusive tourism.

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO
Now is the time to recognise our sector’s essential role as a vision of sustainable and equal development. With this year’s theme, we highlight the value of everyone involved in tourism, both visitors and the visited. India has always seen tourists as a vital part of social-economic, cultural and environmental advancements. Tourism can help our societies to recover from the effect of pandemic and it can deliver hope to those who need it most. In many parts of the world, tourism has slowly started and the growth of tourism must benefit every sector from big airlines to small family business and from the largest cities to the poor communities. This is what it means when we say we will leave nobody behind.

Rajiv Mehra, President, IATO
First, we need to see when international flights and visas start opening. Tourists will decide whether they would like to come to India or not. Once that happens, inclusive growth will follow as tourists would not only focus on leisure but would also go to the eco-friendly destinations and there will be growth in those areas also. There will also be change in SOPs, which we are going to follow. However, overall once international travel starts we will have good growth. Government’s help is required to do promotion and also in keeping the price controlled, so that there is growth in the tourism industry and we don’t lose business to the neighbouring countries.

PP Khanna, President, ADTOI
The focus of World Tourism Day this year has been inclusive growth and domestic tourism is the ultimate saviour for the tourism industry that has been deprived during the pandemic. No sooner the situation has improved, it was domestic tourism that came to the rescue of the stakeholders of the industry. Both central and state governments have now realised that only domestic tourism can a save the industry upon its revival which has begun to catch pace. This has brought smile on the faces of the stakeholders, including tour operators, hotels, guides, transport operators, as they are getting business. Owing to the pandemic, both policymakers and stakeholders have realised what kills the industry and are working in tandem to bring a new normal, thereby providing the push to the growth of tourism within the state and across the country.

Ajay Prakash, President, TAFI
Inclusive growth is a very necessary but also a very ambitious idea. As my friend Taleb Rifai has said, one cannot build a five-star resort in a two-star community. That phrase exemplifies what inclusive growth ought to be about. It is not inclusive if tourism degrades the environment; it is not inclusive if the women and children in a destination are exploited. These are the issues that the trade needs to consider. All of us need to be more alive and mindful of the environmental impact of our businesses – whether it is a tour operator, a hotel, an airline, a tourist guide or a driver. Each one of us has a responsibility towards the community and the local population, so that we can make our businesses more inclusive and look at how the host community can benefit from tourism and the business it brings with it.

Sunil Kumar, President, UFTAA
I support the theme of this World Tourism Day. However, inclusive growth is not only meant for supporting the economies of the world, but it can support the tourism industry stakeholders too. It can bring back tourism to a very strong growing path and bring a lot of value to the travellers who are keen to go out and experience the world. I think it’s a great thing to happen for all of us. Let’s try to reach out to those sustainable development goals that the United Nations always talks about and I believe that the growth should be for all the economies of the world. It should be the growth for the economy of the travel and tourism industry, particularly the economy of our principals, which are predominantly airlines and hotels. I think in the long run, inclusive tourism will be the way forward for our industry.

Steve Borgia, CMD, INDeco Leisure Hotels
India is already too late for inclusive tourism, but thanks to Corona, the travel and tourism fraternity is now talking about inclusive tourism. If tourism is not able to offer benefits to the local communities, then it’s not fair tourism but exploitative tourism. While the world can talk about sustainable tourism or eco-tourism, India has a privilege of talking about regenerative tourism because we had it implanted in our community and day-to-day life, but we lost it. Hence, we need to regenerate and go back to where we were. INDeco Hotels established rural tourism way back in the 90s and we saw development. In Indian villages, rural tourism is a magic wand that can resolve many of our development issues. I strongly believe that it should be taken seriously, and we need to harness that maximum potential and see what we can do to make it effective nationwide.

Akhil Anand, Director, Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels
The pandemic has brought about a shift in consciousness for many. It’s high time that we start looking at the impact of businesses on the environment and on communities in a more holistic manner. At the Tree of Life, it has always been our endeavour to minimise our carbon footprint and improve the standard of living of our neighbours in the local communities at the destinations we operate in. We strive to make continuous improvements to this end. Also, we have completely revamped our SOPs at the operational department level to ensure that we are consistent with all safety and sanitation measures as advised by the Ministry of Health and WHO. We are also keeping a close watch on other global developments to ensure highest level of safety and sanitisation across all our resorts.

Sunil Varghese, Director, Dune Wellness
Inclusive tourism must be the way forward, especially after COVID. Currently, tourism only benefits a very small marginal section of the society and the community in large is totally left out. It’s not just for COVID times, but for other times as well. There should be an inclusive approach, starting from the government, and I am sure it will have sustainability. For inclusive tourism, it’s the people of the land who should be stakeholders in the activity of tourism, and not remain just menial employees. In fact, whenever a new destination is being developed, it would be the ideal space to work on this in the right earnest. Also, if all hotels localise their purchase, it would help the local economy. Hotels can do partnership with the local communities or help the local government where there could be activities, which would support the communities.

Inputs by Nisha Verma

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