Six Steps To Responsible Tourism
Why do we travel? To our villages and to our ancestral homes in far-flung remote areas because we want to reconnect with our roots…we need assurance of our existence. We travel to experience new places because we need to escape from the daily monotonous cycle of work-success-work…to savour few moments of no worries, to value our work. Some travel for love of food… some travel to return and feel safe in known environs!
Travel rejuvenates, reunites and brings a sense of belonging with the world….
But then why we, many a times, abuse the beauty and sanctity of not only the destination but also the journey? I believe, I, as a thinking, educated, intelligent social human, have a moral duty to not only be a responsible traveller but also stop the miscreants from destruction of nature and heritage.
I have almost always met resistance from those who purposely destroy the surroundings, when I try stopping them but I try nevertheless because sometimes fellow travellers have supported me and we together could stop such culprits. To bring about a lasting change and promote responsible tourism here are few things we could do ourselves and make others do it too….
- Stop writing on monument walls
There is no place, no monument or tree trunks where I have not seen people scratch their names, profess their love or carve out their cheap fantasies…. Whether it is the artificial cave at Vaishnodevi temple, the fort walls, the rocks on a nature trail… all bear evidence of such people with itchy hands …even the pristine white Taj Mahal (Yes! I caught a teenager drawing a red permanent marker line on the rear wall of Taj Mahal. When I stopped him from doing, his mother was shameless enough to ask me who I was to scold her son and that the monument did not belong to me!!)
Our monuments are our cultural and architectural pride, our fauna and flora finds their place in mythological stories…..Let us not mar our heritage by marking them with crudely scratched names and symbols of love but also prevent those who find defacing our monuments and nature amusing.
“A concerted effort to preserve our heritage is a vital link to our cultural educational aesthetic, inspirational and economic legacies— all of the things that quite literally make us who we are.”—Steve Berry
- Save ecosystems
Earth is not dependent on us….we are dependent on earth! The smallest of insect, smallest of marine creäture, the tiniest of plant…all form the ecosystem of different places. If we destroy even a single element, the whole system will spiral down towards destruction.
I was visiting this Baijnath temple at Kausani on the banks of Gomti River. The ancient temples though somewhat in ruins inspired a sense of calm and peace in me. The gentle murmur of the river was like trance music to my ears…the distant snow-capped mountains seemed ethereal in the golden sunlight…the whole ambience induced a contentment and bliss. The tranquillity was suddenly disturbed by the impudent chatter of a group of careless young men who found it very amusing to throw bits of paper as food for the fish who had become accustomed of eating small pieces of ‘prasadam’ and had clamoured to the shallow bank of river. Again due to my habit of standing up against such people I objected but they did not heed to my protests until a policeman walked up to them and reprimanded them.
Is it so difficult to not be so callous? As a responsible traveller and tourist it is time we prevent such careless people from causing harm to flora and fauna and save our environment to last more than our lifetime.
- Respect local culture and Shun Noise
Travelling is fun and as a big family or group of friends we travel to savour the quality time with our close ones….we enjoy, we chatter away, we show our happiness…… but our fun can become noise for other. Each place has its own culture and personality and natives of that place may not be as enthusiastic as us about the choice of our music or loud, happy expression of holiday fever.
My idea of enjoyment should not become jarring disturbance of other. Respecting the local sensibilities makes for a responsible tourist.
- Save water
Lakes, rivers and oceans that is the only water we have for drinking and other usage and for our forests and wildlife….and it is depleting fast. With no water, earth would heat up; drying the vegetation, killing slowly the birds, animals, marine life, insects and ultimately humans. We need water for our survival….
This is one issue that needs to be addressed on war footing, definitely because lakes, rivers, waterfalls look amazingly beautiful with flowing water in their green environs. Using up this water in excess would leave us with nothing to appreciate.
Haven’t we all seen people leaving taps open after drinking water or in public toilets or demanding unlimited supply in hotel rooms? There is just as much water and we need to be careful in spilling it. Many hotels have made it a policy to release hot water for limited time and this should be made mandatory at every place.
On our part we must close taps whether it is us who has operated it or it was left running by foolish people…. Use less water for bathing and avoid bathtubs altogether!
- Throw garbage in dustbin
Face it…not all are careful about throwing garbage in dustbins. People driving swanky cars throw cigarette butts, a tissue, a parking ticket and anything that might make their car look untidy out of their car windows without giving much thought and have the nerve to lament that there aren’t enough dustbins around.
I was much pained after finding empty snack packets tucked away on the platform which displayed the Pakistani armoured tank that Indian army captured at the Battle of Longewala after thwarting the enemy attack. Is that how we respect the efforts of our brave soldiers who prevented the enemy from entering into our country? Do people travel and make deliberate effort to show their callousness?
There is so much garbage everywhere that I feel ashamed when I see foreign tourists covering their noses or read about westerners taking special health measures before travelling to India.
Yet, there is Asia’s cleanest village in our country at Mawlynnong, Shillong. In this self-sustaining small village, people do not dispose off plastic wastes on streets….they mostly use paper bags and recycle, reuse and clean their village themselves. If one village in India can do it….why can not the rest of the country?
The Americans levy a fine of thousand dollars if caught littering. Before our government starts such a drive let us enter in the fray to make our country a real “Swacchh Bharat”…. Let us throw our garbage only in dustbins.
- Do not spit
What on earth does inspire an urge in people of our country to spit uninhibited at every place after every few minutes is beyond my understanding. Red stains of tobacco adorn the walls of modern cities as well as some secluded walls of historic structures…. the city bred people, who consider themselves a class above the tobacco spitting uncouth villagers, however mark their presence at tourist destinations by spitting bubblegum instead.
STOP People!! Our culture is to draw ”Rangoli” not spit art…
As a responsible traveller I try to avoid damage….Let us join hands in preserving our heritage…