February 15, 2023
Sustainable Tourism: Meaning, Importance & An Industry-leading Example
There is no Planet B. The earth is our home and Sustainable Tourism is our responsibility that is, how we treat our home determines how happy our lives will be and also how we will impact the ability of future generations to be happy and healthy. This is the thought that has guided the environmental movement for a long time.
Since the 1960s, concern has been steadily building that we are overusing our planet’s bounty to the extent that we are causing irreversible damage to the delicate ecosystems, life forms, and natural resources that are crucial in supporting life. In recent years, this concern has grown exponentially and has led to calls for “Sustainable Tourism.”
What is Sustainable Tourism?
Sustainable Tourism is the practice of traveling responsibly. It means traveling in a way that is sustainable and environmentally friendly by supporting a measured use of shared resources and avoiding activities that create waste or permanent damage.
Many institutions and individuals now support Sustainable Tourism and prefer to travel in a way where they, as the adage goes, “leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures.” This includes leaving a minimal carbon footprint and supporting companies and systems that share their concern.
For companies, Sustainable Tourism or Green tourism is also a way to show customers and stakeholders their commitment to a sustainable future for our planet, which bolsters their sustainability and allows people with similar values to align with them.
Why is Sustainable Tourism important?
The Travel industry, which includes hotels, airlines, and other associated activities, is one of the largest industries in the world. According to the reports, the tourism industry contributes to approx. 8% of the world’s carbon emissions. Any improvement in how the industry treats the environment will surely have a large impact on the entire planet, especially ecological treasures with delicate and endangered structures.
Ironically, the most vulnerable places on our planet are often the ones that need the most help. Simply banning tourists from natural wonderlands does not help and may lead to further damage and degradation of these destinations due to the darkness of obscurity.
The right kind of tourism, which doesn’t impact these destinations negatively but leads to an increased appreciation for nature and provides valuable resources, can work wonders in protecting the natural world and reversing the damage already caused.
How can we be Sustainable Tourists?
Sustainable Tourism begins with a deeper understanding of our home planet and a shared concern and care for its future. First, we need to know about the issues and challenges faced by local communities in the places we visit and then support solutions rather than the causes of these problems.
More than any government regulation or local activism, it is Customer Behaviour that has the biggest impact on how the industry behaves. As tourists become more conscious of how they travel, either due to their conscience or because of how they will be perceived by others, the industry is forced to catch up.
When hotels and individuals decide to put their money where their heart is, it automatically leads to changes in policies throughout the industry. As consumers become savvier about what to do and what not to do, businesses that act irresponsibly are already having a hard time attracting customers while Green Hotels or Sustainable Hotels are thriving.
What is a good example of a Sustainable Resort?
Since Sustainable Tourism is a relatively new concept, we can only learn from the examples set by others. While many approaches are being tried out in the industry, some are seeing more success than others.
One example of a successful “Sustainable Resort” is the Lchang Nang Retreat – The House of Trees in Ladakh, India. This is a splendid eco-resort in the heart of Nubra Valley, considered to be one of the most beautiful and pristine landscapes in the world and the last stop on the historic Silk Route that has connected India, China, and Central Asia since antiquity.
Nubra Valley is no stranger to tourists. It has welcomed all manner of foreigners and tourists for thousands of years but in modern times, as the craze for the legendary beauty of Ladakh spread far and wide, it began to experience the stress and strain that comes with commercial activity.
Lchang Nang Retreat – The House of Trees was conceived and designed, from the beginning, to reduce and even reverse this impact. Sustainable and conscious luxury is the ethos of Lchang Nang Retreat. They attempt to keep the carbon footprint to a bare minimum while building their business on strictly sustainable principles.
Built intelligently with local and sustainable materials, the resort came up with sustainable policies and practices that use modern technology but always align with the local landscape, culture, and conditions of Ladakh.
Here’s a list of sustainable initiatives followed by the resort to lower its environmental impact:
The retreat draws 95% of its energy from solar power, making it one of the largest solar-powered properties in Ladakh.
The cottages are made using traditional local materials and techniques which make them a practical and sustainable work of architecture.
LED lighting is used for all the cottages.
The resort ensures minimal use of plastic and hence, no plastic containers are used for in-room amenities.
100% recycled tissue paper is used along with other green hotel amenities.
The resort ensures the stringent application of sustainable food management practices. From practicing organic farming, and using green dining accessories to sending food waste to their farms for animal feed.
Solar water heating system is installed for 24*7 hot water supply.
Solar lamps are used for landscape lighting where needed.
The flood irrigation system is implanted to water all 20 acres of the property.
Waste management includes garbage segregation and recycling.
The resort also has an in-house organic brand – Amaley’s, the ingredients of which are locally sourced and made by locals thus encouraging the local economy and talent.
To know more about their sustainability features, check this out
Thus, we see that Sustainable Tourism and Sustainable Resorts are key to reforming the Travel Industry, which in turn is crucial in reforming the planet as a whole. As Lchang Nang Retreat – The House of Trees has demonstrated, this is not just possible but also vastly beneficial to business in the medium and long term while mitigating environmental impact.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. WHO IS A SUSTAINABLE TOURIST?
Ans. Sustainable Tourists are tourists who travel in a way that is socially, culturally, environmentally, and ecologically sustainable.
Q2. WHY BE A SUSTAINABLE TOURIST?
Ans. Sustainable Tourists are respected, admired, and courted because they help reduce and reverse the negative impact of human activity on nature.
Q3. DOES SUSTAINABLE TOURISM HELP?
Ans. Yes. Sustainable Tourism and Sustainable Tourists are already impacting the environment positively and measurably and helping save our planet from ruin.