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World Tourism day- 22 September

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 30, Sep 2021
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27th September has been celebrated as World Tourism Day since 1980. It was on this day in 1970 when the Statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) were adopted which are considered a milestone in global tourism.

  • The UNWTO is the United Nations specialised agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

Theme of this day: – Tourism for Inclusive Growth

It focuses not on numbers but people who are behind these numbers who work really hard to make the tourism industry a grand success.

Next Analysis

  • Significance:
    • The World Tourism Day highlights the unique role of the tourism sector in preserving cultural and natural heritage all around the world. It acts as an auxiliary in safeguarding habitat and endangered species.
    • It addresses the importance of the tourism sector in providing jobs and opportunities, mostly for women and youth, in rural as well as big cities.
  • 2020 Celebrations:
    • Theme for 2020: 'Tourism and Rural Development'.
      • The theme encourages the celebration of the unique role played by tourism in job creation outside of the big cities.
    • Joint Hosts:
      • In the history of 40 years, the official celebration of World Tourism Day will not be hosted by a single member state of the UNWTO.
      • Nations from the MERCOSUR bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Chile joining as member associate status) will also be the joint hosts.
    • Covid-19 Impact: As per the data of the UNWTO, about 100 to 120 million jobs in the tourism industry are at risk directly.

Tourism and India

  • India has significant potential for tourism. Its wealth of culture, heritage, archaeology and nature uniquely places it to provide such experiences for people to rediscover themselves.
    • There are 38 World Heritage Sites located in India. The World Heritage Sites are important places of cultural or natural heritage as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972.
  • The industry’s contribution to India’s Gross Domestic Product in 2019 stood at 9.3%, and is said to account for over 8% of the total employment.
  • Some Initiatives taken to promote tourism in India:
    • Swadesh Darshan Scheme: It is a Central Sector Scheme, and was launched in 2014 -15 for integrated development of theme based tourist circuits in the country.
    • Prashad Scheme: The ‘National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in the year 2014-15 with the objective of holistic development of identified pilgrimage destinations.
    • Iconic Tourist Sites: The government is developing 17 “Iconic Tourist Sites” in the country as world class tourist destinations which in turn would serve as a model for other tourism sites. It is aimed at enhancing India’s soft power.
    • Webinar Series Dekho Apna Desh: It was launched in January 2020 with the objective of creating awareness among the citizens about the rich heritage and culture of the country.
      • It encourages citizens to travel widely within the country and enhances tourist footfalls leading to development of the local economy and creation of jobs at the local level.
    • Destination North East-2020: It aims to bring the rest of India closer to North East (NE) India.
    • SAATHI Application: It is an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism with the Quality Council of India, launched to assist the hospitality industry to continue to operate safely and thereby instill confidence among the Staff, employees and the guests about the safety of the hotel/unit.
  • Challenges:
    • The Swacch Survekshan (cleanliness survey) has projected many tourist hotspots such as Amritsar, Jaipur, Mumbai, Delhi, Srinagar, Varanasi and Shillong in poor light.
      • Almost half of the world’s 50 most-polluted cities are in India.
      • The habit of littering and ineffective waste management has led to widespread pollution.
    • Tourists in India still face many infrastructure related problems like inadequate roads, water, sewer, hotels and telecommunications etc. Safety and security of tourists, especially of the foreign tourists, is a major hurdle to tourism development.
    • Tourism sector got largely affected due to pandemic and associated lockdown. The travel ban hugely impacted tour operators and travel agencies, hotels, and the aviation industry.
      • In 2019, foreign tourist arrivals in India stood at 10.89 million, achieving a yearly growth rate of 3.20% from 2018, earning USD 29.90 billion in foreign exchange earnings.
      • But the top countries that once contributed to foreign tourists in India, namely China, Germany, the United States and the UK have been badly hit by the pandemic.

Way Forward

  • Strengthening the waste collection system and educating common citizens about the importance of responsible disposal of various types of plastics would ensure less waste littered at tourist hotspots and other Indian cities. The government has also asked all the tourist hotspots cities to switch completely to clean fuel.
  • Indian tourism has, for a long, just focused on creating more and more tourist destinations in the name of economic upliftment of local communities, rather than striking a balance between the needs of the host, visitor and the environment. It is time to turn the pandemic into an opportunity by redesigning the current business model into a long-term sustainable and resilient tourism industry.