August 11, 2023
In the lure of exploring places & cultures, the world has been observing a degenerative trend in the tourism industry. Degenerative Tourism stands for the opposite of what Regenerative Tourism stands for. While Regenerative Tourism aims to contribute to the destination & its inhabitants, Degenerative Tourism exploits the natural ecosystem and lowers the quality of life of its inhabitants.
The trend of Overtourism ( when there are too many visitors in a particular destination ) and unconscious travelling has led to the destruction of these scenic places and made their ecosystem quite fragile. For example- with increase in search for Leh Ladakh Tour Packages, Ladakh Tourism is gaining popularity in the international arena, however it is observing a degenerative pattern in the tourism industry. Hence, it is imperative that travelers be mindful of the way they travel and especially their impact. It is quite powerful as to how us, as individuals, hold the power to add value or degrade the place & affect lives.
When we think of exploring a place or setting off to a new destination, it’s possible for us to bring forth a meaningful impact.
In the previous article, we explored the roles of other players in the tourism industry – government, tour operators and hotels. In this article, we will shed light upon the incredible quantum of effect which travellers can have on the tourism industry by contributing to Regenerative Tourism.
What impact can we make as a Traveller?
Choose Eco-friendly Tour Operators & Accommodations
As a traveller, we want to have an unforgettable experience and to achieve that, we try to find such Tour Operator & Accommodation options. In lieu of the same, we can get swayed away by fancy hotel chains & promising tour operators. However, at the moment, it is imperative to pause and make a conscious choice to choose certain accommodations and tour-operators who are contributing in safeguarding the environment and promoting local culture as well as communities. By choosing such facilitators, travellers can reward them for their noble contributions.
In Ladakh, one of such Tour Operator is – Lchang Nang Travels, which aims to reduce not only their carbon footprint but also allow the travellers to do the same while making experiential itineraries that excel in promoting inclusive growth of the local community and enticing active engagement between the travellers and local people. Moreover, they hire local drivers, guides and provide training to them to hone their skills. With active flairs of Ecotourism, Green-tourism and Regenerative Tourism, there has been a rise in experiential properties who also consciously hold sustainability and mindful luxury as their ethos like Lchang Nang Retreat, Ladakh. Nestled in the pristine lap of Nubra Valley, this esort offers a plethora of Signature Experiences that involve guests in creating a positive impact – environmentally & culturally. For example, their Chef’s Tasting Experience is based on the theme of Silk Route with each ingredient being locally & ethically sourced from the Silk Route Trail. This is not just an ordinary Chef’s Tasting Experience but rather a culinary journey through the Ancient Silk Route that allows guests to contribute to the ethical business.
As travellers, when we are exploring new destinations, we need to realise that we are just ‘visiting’ whilst the inhabitants, the locals – they ‘live’ there. Disturbing an ecosystem by generating waste and loitering around not only affects the environment but also degrades life.
Popular tourist destinations in India like Manali have faced a backlash of mindless activities by tourists such as throwing single-use plastic waste freely, the result of which can be seen in its deteriorated and flood prone landscape with streams being choked up with lots of plastic.
The recent flare of similar deterioration has begun to be visible in the Northernmost Part of India – Ladakh which is acclaimed to be one of the most pristine sites. With rapid inflow of tourists, it has been observing waste along the routes, villages & attraction sights. All of it resulting in it being the next flood sensitive site and a huge bank of waste.
Hence, it makes it imperative for travellers to be mindful of the waste. For example – if there is no dustbin in close proximity, one can put the waste in their backpack. Also, rather than opting for single use plastic water bottles, one can opt for refillable water bottles.
Eco-friendly resorts like Lchang Nang sell such refillable water bottles to help reduce the environmental impact by tourists. Therefore, by engaging with such environmentally friendly enterprises, we can contribute to their existing efforts of preserving the environment.
Support the Local Economy
As a traveller, we can find it quite comfortable opting for such big international restaurants, hotels & retail chains as they are familiar. However, every purchase has a potential power to make an impact.
By opting for eating in local restaurants, staying in locally owned accommodations and shopping locally, we can help inject money directly into the local economy. This will not only result in intimate interaction with the local culture but also touch the lives of many locals in the most meaningful ways, hence contributing to Regenerative Tourism.
If you are travelling for quite a good stretch of time, let’s say – a couple of weeks or more, you can opt to utilise your time and channelise your energy in the most meaningful way by joining a social organisation or movement in the region.
For example – you can join a cleanliness drive in a destination which is being subjected to Over tourism and lots of waste. Or, you can teach English, any subject of your choice or a skill, in rural schools. By all these means, we can contribute to the social & environmental issues which can make a world of difference.
Engage with the Local Culture
One of the most fascinating wonders of travelling is being able to experience different cultures and it is a privilege to be a part of it. Therefore, we should ensure that we respect our interaction with the ladakhi culture – its customs, traditions and people.
Through our interactions with the local culture, we begin to see the world with different lenses. Not only is it is insightful to learn about their history, rich traditions and heritage but also helps us grow reverence and gratitude for our culture.
When we put in that kind of extra effort to learn about the other cultures, it helps us understand the reason behind their unique cultural notions, customs and traditions; ending up giving us a sense of responsibility to be mindful of our interactions and contribute to it as we travel.
Educate others about Regenerative Tourism
While it is important for us to contribute to Regenerative Tourism, it is also our duty to educate and spread awareness about the same. If you come across somebody deteriorating the environment or being unconscious of their impact towards its inhabitants, we need to suggest healthier approaches in a cordial manner.
One can begin a conversation to share ways to contribute to Regenerative Tourism with their Tour Operators, accommodation partners or other fellow travellers. It is very important to share the word within the community and come up with innovative ways to add value to the destination that we travel to.
Being a valued partner in Regenerative Tourism not only yields fun but can also touch many lives in the most meaningful ways. When we realise that power, we can tap into it and make our due contributions towards it. This further gives us a chance to be aware of how our actions impact not only the environment but also human lives, wherever we go. Regenerative Tourism isn’t a methodical system or a rigid guideline of rules. It’s rather an approach to make a long lasting impact on the planet and people as we travel.