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Tourism Growth and Sustainable Environment

Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the world as well as the one of the world’s most competitive one. India’s travel and tourism economy is poised to grow 7.5% in 2015 over last year, exceeding the 6.9% growth that the global forum has predicted for the South Asian region.

The third-largest sub- segment of the services sector comprising trade, repair services, hotels and restaurants contributed nearly US$ 187.9 billion or 12.5 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014-15, while growing the fastest at 11.7 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) over the period 2011-12 to 2014-15.

Tourism in India has significant potential considering the rich cultural and historical heritage, variety in ecology, terrains and places of natural beauty spread across the country. Tourism is also a potentially large employment generator besides being a significant source of foreign exchange for the country. The industry is expected to generate 13.45 million jobs across sub-segments such as Restaurants (10.49 million jobs), Hotels (2.3 million jobs) and Travel Agents/Tour Operators (0.66 million). India has moved up 13 positions to 52nd rank from 65th in Tourism & Travel competitive index. The sector had the potential to contribute 46 million jobs to the India economy by 2025.

All these figures show the growing market as well as the role being played by tourism in the economies of the nations. India has still more potential to attract foreign tourists as well as encourage domestic tourism.

Sustainability’ is the catchword of the new millennium. As one of Victoria’s larger industries, and a sector heavily reliant on natural assets as its product, tourism not only contributes to the problem, but it could become a major casualty of a failure to address the issues. However, the broader notion of sustainability goes beyond traditional ‘green’ elements. The World Tourism Organisation defines ‘sustainable tourism’ as “tourism which meets the needs of the present tourist and host regions,while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future”. The broader notion of sustainability not only encompasses the environmental, but also the economic and socio-cultural aspects of the industry.

Consumer trends in travel have been steadily moving away from overcrowded, polluted, and culturally homogenous experiences. The new traveller ethic recognizes the need to protect finite resources and indigenous cultures. Sustainable delivery of services to meet the needs of visitors requires careful consideration of the desires and identity of local communities.

In fact, attractions and facilities that reflect the personality and heritage of an area are much more likely to be accepted by its residents. The ‘greening’ of your business also has marketing benefits, especially in attracting the rapidly growing market of environmentally-conscious visitors.

Tourism can also be a driving force for conservation,enhancement and interpretation of the natural and cultural environment – directly through raising awareness, and through the generation of funds to support projects. Therefore Sustainability should be important to all tourism enterprises, regardless of size or market orientation.

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