As the travel and tourism industry embarks on the path to recovery, the focus on responsible and sustainable practices has become paramount. In a recent panel discussion, hosted by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) in Nepal, challenges and opportunities for responsible tourism were brought forward by Industry leaders.
The path to a responsible tourism industry presents both challenges and opportunities. Insights shared by industry leaders at a recent panel discussion, hosted by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) in Nepal, highlighted the importance of measuring success beyond arrival numbers and emphasized on the well-being of local communities and the environment. It was said that through initiatives like community-based tourism, infrastructure development, and responsible practices, destinations like Nepal, the Maldives, Ras Al Khaimah, and Azerbaijan are demonstrating their commitment to sustainable growth. By embracing responsibility across various sectors and influencing policy-making, the industry can contribute to a more sustainable and fulfilling travel experience for everyone.
Rethinking measures of success
Dr. Dhananjay Regmi, CEO, Nepal Tourism Board, emphasizes the need to redefine how success in tourism is measured. Rather than solely focusing on arrival numbers, he suggested considering the standard of living for local communities and the state of the environment. Nepal has long embraced sustainability, with initiatives such as Tourism for the Rural Coordination and the preservation of ethnic group cultures through homestays. “The country has also made significant efforts in protecting national parks and increasing tiger populations. It is important to find sustainable solutions to keep fragile environments free from pollution and encourage responsible behaviour from locals and tourists,” he added.
The accessible & sustainable vision
Dr. Abdulla Mausoom, Minister of Tourism, Maldives, shared the Maldives’ commitment to becoming the world’s leading sustainable tourism destination. “The Maldives’ fifth master plan focuses on accessibility for all, including people with special needs and seniors, while ensuring the benefits of tourism reach the local population and protect ecosystems,” he explains. The country is investing in infrastructure development across its islands, providing essential services like water, electricity, and internet access on all islands.
Supporting community & financial growth
Raki Phillips, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), discussed Ras Al Khaimah’s ambitious goal of becoming the Middle East’s most sustainable destination by 2025. “Rather than solely pursuing sustainability, we must emphasize the importance of responsible tourism, which encompasses environmental, cultural, and economic responsibility,” he said. Ras Al Khaimah has partnered with Earth Check to develop a roadmap towards sustainability and has gained commitments from 30 corporate companies.
Quality and responsibility
Florian Sengstschmid, CEO, Azerbaijan Tourism Board, highlighted Azerbaijan’s vision of resilient growth, emphasizing the significance of quality over quantity. “The destination aims to leverage its assets and enhance capacities to create a competitive advantage, while acknowledging that sustainability encompasses verticals beyond tourism,” he said.