New Delhi, December 2015:“India needs to start its own responsible tourism awards. A lot is happening in Responsible Tourism in India,”said Harold Goodwin, Professor of Responsible Tourism, Manchester Metropolitan University and Director, International Centre for Responsible Tourism. Delivering a powerful keynote at India’s first-ever Responsible Tourism Summit Prof. Goodwin spoke to a rapt audience that included responsible tourism practitioners from around the country, the academia, top-ranking bureaucrats, corporates, representatives from tourism boards and the travel & tourism industry. The Professor’s suggestion was immediately seconded by none other than Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, Tourism, GOI, who said that he “welcomed the initiative to start Responsible Tourism awards.”
The day-long Summit, held at the ITC Maurya, created a first-of-its-kind platform for all stakeholders of RT to network, liaise, share best practices, and discuss the way forward to develop a cohesive RT blueprint for India. A host of eminent speakers that included Ashwini Lohani (CMD, Air India), Nakul Anand (Executive Director, ITC), Jose Dominic (MD & CEO, CGH Earth), Jeremy Smith (CEO & co-founder Travindy), Pranab Sarkar (Honorary Secretary, IATO), and Shama Pawar (Kishkinda Trust) took the stage while multiple panel discussions explored different facets of RT.
“Luxury isn’t ostentatious; it’s about authenticity,” said Mr. Dominic in a fascinating personal narrative of how the experience of the years in which RT was still a nascent concept. Describing the experience of building the first eco friendly island resort, in Lakshadweep’s Bangaram island, he spoke about the foresight of “…insisted in using local materials etc to give tourists an authentic experience, using the government’s exacting standards”. He also spoke of creating the highly successful Spice Village in Kerala’s Thekkady using the same standards and inputs from locals—an RT initiative that literally put that destination on the map. Mr. Anand, who has been instrumental in catalysing the RT initiatives of ITC Hotels, spoke about changing attitudes amongst travellers: “patrons want luxury brands to reflect their awareness, concern for sustainability.Luxury is changing from conspicuous consumption to conscientious consumption,” he said.
Underlining the collaborative efforts which the RT Summit hopes to catalyse Mr. Sarkar emphasised on RT as a collective responsibility. “Everyone has a responsibility to be responsible. The centre and state governments, locals, service providers, and tourists have to come together,” he said.
The Responsible Tourism Summit is a brainchild of Outlook Traveller, India’s most popular travel magazine, and was presented by Kerala Tourism this year. The RT Summit 2015 was ably supported by State Partners including Chattisgarh Tourism, UP Tourism, Incredible India, Gujarat Tourism and Uttarakhand Tourism.