Some people believe that tourists should accept social and environmental responsibility while others believe that tourists should not accept any responsibility at all. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
It is irrefutable that the tourism industry has become the backbone of many economies of the world. No wonder all countries are opening their doors to tourists. The negative social and environmental impacts of tourism have led many to suggest that tourists should accept responsibility for this. I definitely agree with this notion. Eco-tourism, sustainable tourism, responsible-tourism, modern tourism or whatever name you may like to give it, is the need of the hour. In the following paragraphs, I intend to put forth my arguments to support my view.
The most important reason why tourists should be responsible is that many tourist destinations are endangered now because of the litter and pollution spread by the tourists. For example, the Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh, which is a popular tourist spot, once got so badly damaged by the wrappers and plastic bottles which tourists threw that no boating could be done there and it smelled so bad that people stopped going there. It took months to get it cleaned up and restore tourism there. The local people and the governments cannot handle such a situation effectively unless the tourists themselves lend a hand by being careful.
Secondly, there is over-consumption of resources by tourists such as water and fuel and this is incompatible with sustainable development. Tourist demand for resources such as water and food may also compete with the needs of local people and may lead to injustice among the locals. For example, in Shimla, a popular hill station, tourists stay in five-star accommodations and take two showers a day whereas the people outside are short of drinking water. To add to it many tourism activities such as skiing, boating, motorised water sports, and trekking represent a stress to fragile ecosystems. Who will welcome the tourists to those places if tourists don’t accept responsibility? Instead of five-star accommodations, they could live with the locals and be satisfied with one shower a day.
Finally, if tourists do not respect the local people’s culture and environment, then the natives would be hostile towards them and the whole purpose of tourism would be lost. For example, in our religious places, it is customary to cover our heads and take off our shoes. If tourists don’t do so they will not be welcome by our people there. So, the onus is on the tourist to know beforehand the norms of the place and fortunately, nowadays, everything is available on the net or one can get all the information from the tour operators.
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Responsible tourism is everyone’s responsibility. The well-being of the destination is not only the responsibility of the tourism sector – it is also the responsibility of the tourist. That is why it has rightly been said that – ‘ A good tourist leaves behind nothing, but footprints; and takes away nothing, but photographs.