India to host Global meet on Responsible Tourism

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New Delhi, Sep 22 (UNI) The Union Ministry of Tourism (MoT) will organise a 'Global Conference on Responsible Tourism for Inclusive Growth' in December this year.

The programme is being organised in collaboration with UNDP, host State Tourism Departments, leading international and national experts, the global tourism industry and principal stakeholders.

MoT sources said here today that the global conference would be preceded by four regional thematic conferences across India, also with international and national stakeholders, feeding into the main Conference.

''The true potential of tourism lies in responsible practices on both demand and supply sides, enabling an effective response to climate change. This is closely interlinked with inclusive growth through sustainable community participation,'' the sources said.

The Ministry's UNDP-partnered Rural Tourism Project positions India's rural way of life as a unique visitor experience in low-impact settings, which can be viewed at www.exploreruralindia.org The conferences will deliberate on core issues that will help create practical steps for our collective tourism future.

This 'responsible' tourism route has been adopted by the Ministry in its successful partnership with UNDP for the innovative Rural Tourism Project, by strengthening the disadvantaged but skilled rural artisan communities through support to capacity building and vernacular infrastructure, while laying emphasis on the role of women.

The responsible tourism challenge requires sustainable practices to attain the optimum fit in demand and supply of the earth's finite resources, such that present visitor requirements harmonise with future uses but without irreversible negative impact.

The cultural and bio-geographic diversity of India provides multiple-interest visitor attractions for all seasons, enabling livelihoods for local communities through sustainable strategies based on craft, culture and the natural environment. The employment generation potential of tourism is also linked with the high volume of both international domestic tourism that uses a range of services and accommodation including that provided by the small sector.

Sources said the Thematic Regional Conferences would be held in four different states for a day each during September-October.

The first such conference on ''Responsible Tourism-The Industry Perspective'' would be held in Kochi tomorrow. The is held jointly with Kerala Tourism at the ongoing Kerala Travel Mart.

This is a platform for direct interaction between the demand and supply sides of Responsible Tourism. It will enable clear understanding of visitor requirements by service providers, while keeping requisite safeguards in place, such that tourism outcomes could be optimised for mutual benefit, sources said.

The second conference would be held on ''Local Governance and Convergence for Responsible Tourism'' at Bhopal on September 29.

This conference focuses on development models where tourism is responsible for safeguarding culture, with inclusive growth and market linkages. Equally, it will stress on economic sustainability beyond the project hand-holding period, such as Self Help Groups thrust and also the need to avoid duplication of funding efforts for local felt needs.

Shillong would host the third thematic conference on ''Community Participation and Empowerment'' on October 14.

This conference dwells on community participation which is at the core of the innovative rural tourism initiative, inclusive of collective representation and self-sustaining growth without continued external support. Gender equity is a core fundamental here.

''Capacity Building: Waste Management, Training and Skill Development'' would be the subject of the fourth conference, to be held in Chennai on October 21.

The Chennai conference provides the critical link between Responsible Tourism as an effective response to climate change. It will thereby highlight the need and process for sanitation and waste management which negatively impact repeat visits and the image of the destination. Training and skill development therefore form the USP in the UNDP-partnered Rural Tourism Project for rural livelihoods support via the responsible tourism process.

Each Regional Thematic Conference will provide substantive inputs for the Global Conference on Responsible Tourism for Inclusive Growth in December 2008.

UNI SH MP HT1635

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