- Over-exploitation of some Himalayan towns, caused by tourism can be dealt through targeted afforestation and solid waste management measures.
- The Himalayan region offers conditions suitable for several activities, including recreation, adventure, or religious pilgrimages.
- Tourism is also an important source of income and livelihood for people living in these states and UTs.
- In the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) tourism has experienced continued growth and increasing diversification over the last few decades.
- It is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 7.9% from 2013 to 2023.
National Strategy for Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Traveller Campaign
- It was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with UN Environment Programme
- Strategic pillars for the development of sustainable tourism include
- Promoting Environmental Sustainability,
- Protecting Biodiversity,
- Promoting Economic and Socio-Cultural sustainability,
- Capacity Building and Governance
Swadesh Darshan 2.0
- It is a centrally sponsored scheme with the vision to develop sustainable and responsible tourism destinations.
- It aims to create jobs including self-employment for local communities
- It aims to preserve and enhance local cultural and natural resources.
- The scheme aims to promote responsible tourism in various projects and initiatives in the Himalayan region.
Impact of mass tourism in IHR
- Tourism in the region is greater during summer than the winter, which translates to greater anthropogenic pressure on existing infrastructure and local resources during the hotter months.
- The higher density of native and floating populations in IHR leads to more generation of solid waste, ambient air pollution, water pollution, and deforestation.
- In winter, the influx of people and vehicles and other allied activities also contributes to the shift seen in snowfall and melting patterns due to climate change-related impacts.
- As a consequence of all these adverse pressures, local communities and resources of the Himalayan region are at great risk.
Reduce Mass Tourism
- One way to reduce the threats of excessive tourism is by inculcating a spirit of conservation.
- Regional disparities can be minimized by promoting ecotourism (which involves responsible travel and safeguarding of local environment and ecosystems)
- It is important to develop new tourist destinations in IHR as this would remote areas to be brought under mainstream development and thereby provide livelihood and income opportunities.
- IHR generates a large amount of solid waste, much of which is biodegradable in nature. It is suggested to use microbial bio-composting.
- Psychrophilic and mesophilic bacteria which grow in moderate to cold conditions can be used to break down the biodegradable waste into bio-compost.
- Air pollution in the region can be addressed by creating green belts using locally available tree species that can help remove pollutants suspended in the air.
- Introducing electric vehicles, and using non-conventional energy sources like solar, geothermal, and wind power can be implemented to combat regional-level ambient air pollution.
- Any sustainable approach undertaken to protect and preserve the pristine Himalayan ecosystem should involve the participation of local communities.
- There is a need to encourage skill and capacity-building programs to spread awareness among different stakeholders on sustainable and economic solutions to threats posed by mass tourism in the IHR.