How to Measure Corporate’s Contribution to Sustainable Tourism Development

By Dripto Mukhopadhyay

Why sustainable tourism?

Tourism, for long, has been recognized as one of the most lucrative economic activities around the world. India as a country is well recognized as a global tourism hub with inflow of international tourists steadily increasing over the years.  According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism in India was a $230 billion industry in 2018, which is about 10.4% of the country’s GDP. Tourism also contributes to 8.1% of total countries employment as mentioned in WTTC’s India country report for 2019.

However, everything is not as rosy as tourism contribution to employment and income suggests. There are nuances that act as severe adverse impact agents unless the sector players and regulators play their respective roles. To note a few:

  1. Severe environmental impacts – Tourism contributes more than 8.5% of the total carbon footprints globally. This is also the highest among all economic sectors.
  2. Exploiting local economy than contributing to its growth – Studies suggest that the income generated from tourism activities in areas gets siphoned off in various means, while local people and resources are exploited in a big way.
  3. Distorts local culture and living – In most of the tourist destinations local cultures are gets distorted to a large extent impacting living of the local population. Also cost of living for local people are impacted dur to tourism activities.

All these along with over crowding etc. are considered as phenomenon that are not only impacting the destination areas physically, economically and environmentally, but also detrimental to the growth of tourism itself. Large number of attractive destinations have already been discarded by a large section of tourists as they are not able to provide the desirous experience to the tourists any further. Off beat destinations are looked for by the tourists who look for exciting tourism experiences.

Solution to this entire gamut of problems are sustainable tourism development. In various parts of the world, sustainable practices have stated long back. However, India is still lagging on this front, especially from implementation perspective. On paper, criteria are laid down for sustainable tourism development. But implementation of the same are not visible to a large extent. Two prime reasons seem responsible for non-implementation at least for those that are at least mentioned by ministries at the centre as well as at the states. Since tourism is in fact combination of activities that are looked after by different departments or ministries, responsibility and accountability are in question. Tourism industry players are also not sure about compliance and its benefits to them. The second important reason is no scientific impact assessment is done on how steps towards sustainable tourism are fulfilling the objectives (in quantitative terms) so that one can understand their contribution towards it.

This situation has created a complete opaque front that no one knows to what extent progress are made towards the goals of sustainable tourism except qualitatively that some steps are taken by certain industry players towards certain particular issue. Therefore, it is an area, especially due to negligence on regulatory front, where no one is clear about what to do and what would be the rewards of doing so. However, everyone knows that it is of utmost importance and it cannot be delayed any further.

Is there a way to measure tourism players’ contribution towards curbing negative impacts?

The answer is yes. In fact, this has a dual benefits. It can be a growth driver for business as well as fulfilling corporate role towards CSR related activities. We are highlighting only those that are relevant to hospitality sector. To understand simply, let’s again think sources of negative impacts.

  • Environment – Hospitality sector can reduce the adverse impact by:
    1. Following best practices regarding landuse related norms that is least harmful to existing ecology
    2. Optimal water usage including waste water recycle etc.
    3. Reduced electricity consumption
    4. Scientific waste management procedure
    5. Encouraging tourists to use less fossil fuel for transportation means
    6. Educating tourists on do’s and don’ts regarding conservation of environment and local ecosystem
  • Contribution to local economy
    1. Local procurement of goods used for various purpose including services to guests
    2. Employing local people for various works on and off campus and also skill upgradation mechanism for them
    3. Promoting local culture and other locally produced products among tourists
  • Conserving local human ecosystem
    1. Educating and encouraging tourists to learn about local people and their culture
    2. Respecting living of locals

While impact of first two points can be measured quantitatively and an economic equivalent value can be estimated, the third point can only be measured basis perception. However, all these measures should contribute to survival of tourism in destinations in future years.

Way to achieve these measurements

This can be done with the help of combination of analysis with data from various sources:

  • Activities undertaken by hospitality sector on any of the above points should come from the sector itself.
  • Activities by the tourists, their preference and their expenditures to be captured by a tourists’ survey
  • Remote sensing data would be used to understand the changes on development front of the location along with changes on physical environment front including climate parameters as well as other environment parameters.

Putting together all these data components would help in a real time impact assessment in quantitative terms and its economic and social value. This includes parameters ranging from carbon footprint reduction to contribution to local economy to conserving local ways of living.

What value does this add to industry players

For long years the tourism industry requesting the Government of India for the fiscal benefits including tax rebate and relaxations. Some of those are mentioned below:
– Weighted deduction of 200% in line with Research & Development sectors in India for expenditure incurred towards marketing and promotional activities of the country as inbound tourism destination.
– Lower withholding of tax and interest paid to foreign banks or financial institutions for loan taken in tourism sector.
– Deduction in respect of profit and gains from taxable income for business of hotels, convention centres and other tourism specific infrastructure.
– Foreign exchange earning linked deduction on profits for Income Tax computation.
– Exemption on Tax on room tariff to be increased.
– Service Tax to be exempted for unit to be set up within special tourism zones.
The argument behind such requests is incidence of high taxations on tourism sector and its impact in making Indian tourism industry products less competitive in world market. Studies like the present one can be best possible way to ask regulators to reward for actions taken for curbing negative impacts of tourism and for encouraging positive impacts. This would enable the sector to argue that the sector is not only making profit, but also extending significant benefits to environment and local economy and culture. Especially, suggesting the extent of benefits in terms of economic value enables to convey non-tangible benefits in a tangible manner which provides more purchasing power in for any fiscal benefit from government.

Also, developing local skills and promoting local cultures and crafts can also be part of CSR activities of the sector players. This is yet to happen in the country, while in many countries have already taken this path to concreate sustainable tourism within the scope of corporate social responsibility. It can serve dual purpose of promoting sustainable tourism and look for relevant benefits from the Government as well as fulfilling CSR mandates.

Apart from being benefited at Governmental front, the proposed survey would facilitate understanding tourists’ sentiments and their demand/desires in a more concrete manner and allow the sector towards strategy making to tap the right target consumers with right promotional campaigns. In both ways, this would be a growth driver for business while impacting the tourism activities in a positive manner.

TURNING WASTE INTO ENERGY – CASE STUDY OF UTTARAKHAND CITIES

Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh on 9th November 2000. Major portion of Uttar Pradesh (especially western part) became Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand is also known as the “Land of Lord” or “Dev Bhumi”. Uttarakhand is one of the most beautiful places which attracts people from India as well as from Foreign. Due to high rate of tourist activities the government decided to maintain its beauty as natural as possible and therefore, government formed the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules in 2000. There were many projects launched by the government to manage the solid waste in major cities of Uttarakhand which includes Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Tehri, Haldwani, and Nainital and as of now these ventures are in different phases of culmination.

Please click the link below to read/download the complete paper.

TURNING WASTE INTO ENERGY – CASE STUDY OF UTTARAKHAND CITIES 

Electric Vehicles in India – Current Scenario

Electric Vehicles in India – Current Scenario

By Satyam Saxena[1]

This is the era when every individual is concerned about the pace of climate change. One of the prime reasons is emission of harmful gases due to human activities. Another big challenge is depletion of natural resources. Countries like India, who are highly dependent on imports oil and oil products for production process and consumption, are looking for alternative sources of energy. India is the third largest importer of crude oil in the world which shows oil dependency on their economic activity.Petrol and diesel are the major refined crude oil products which are supplied by the oil industries to the ultimate consumers for running vehicles. Among various sectors that depend on diesel, transportation sector is the largest in terms of consumption of diesel/ petrol. Continue reading Electric Vehicles in India – Current Scenario

Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable tourism studies are part of our core research strengths. considering tourism industry contributing to more than 8% of total carbon emissions in the world, we consider this area of research can play key role in promoting sustainable business and sustainable development. Our tourism studies include forecasting, carbon emission estimation by tourism activities and likely solution towards that, tourists behaviour by segments, destination analysis and such areas of interests to business and policy makers.

Current studies in progress:

  1. Forecasting Foreign Tourist Arrivals to India from Top 20 Country of Origins till 2019 to 2024 – To be completed by March 2019 
  2. Forecasting Domestic Tourism in India by State 2019 to 2014 – To be completed by February end 2019
  3. Key Characteristics of Outbound Tourists from India – To be completed by January end 2019
  4. Tourism and Awareness about Environmental Degradation – A Case Study of Indian Domestic Tourists – To be completed by April 2019

Environment

Promoting sustainability and helping others in achieving it is our core business theme. Our studies cover estimation of carbon footprint and its impact on entire ecosystem including business and population, waste management, sustainable product promotion and similar areas. This is done across sectors. We also study environmental vulnerability of locations and their likely implications on future business and habitations along with the likely economic loss.

Current Studies in Progress:

  1. Cost Comparison between Centralized and Decentralized Waste Management – To be completed by January 2019
  2. State Level Environment Index in India – To be completed by March 2019
  3. Decentralized Waste Management – What Should the Stakeholder Do in Indian Cities – To be completed by February 2019
  4. Energy Generation from Waste – Experience of an Indian State – To be completed by January 2019

Waste is not a waste

ACRA Article No. 1, Oct 2018

By Dripto Mukhopadhyay

We all do generate waste in our households, when we travel, when we go out for dining or for a marriage party – in short everywhere, wherever we are. And, certainly in most cases we do not care about the waste we do generate. We simply think that its not my responsibility to think or act towards that waste that I generate. It is someone else’s responsibility and I am happy as long as I can see my surroundings cleared of waste. In fact, we could have continues this thought process unless the earth stated getting littered by waste materials all over.

You think of water bodies – oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds – all are found with loads of plastics and other wastes that are contaminating water and impacting creatures living in these water bodies adversely. I do not want to talk about cities, since all of us see how the waste materials polluting city environment. Go to the sea beaches, you will see how the beaches are littered with plastic bags, bottles and other wastes. Hills, which at one point of time were the places to breath fresh air and see clean ambiance, are also not spared. One can see wastes are all around, some littered by the visitors to the place as tourists; and the rest is by locals since their consumption behaviour has changed with availability of modern products and there is no awareness generation system so that people get to know what to do with their wastes generated. So, the simplest way to keep their place clean is to throw wastes down the hill. Thus, wherever modern consumption pattern makes a dent into living styles, we can see that wastes are dumped anywhere and everywhere, as long as the neighbour is not objecting only because he is being affected.

Is it really so difficult to handle waste? Or, what all we throw as waste, are they indeed a waste that cannot be utilised? Perhaps not. The solutions are much simpler than we think. Only what is required is passion for saving our environment and leaving a earth where our next generations can live without being crippled under the burden of pollution we leave for them. I am sure no one wants that the moment we think of our own future generation. What requires to handle waste generated by us is a mix of awareness, discipline and commitment to future.

Now, lets look at the way we think of waste. Anything that does not have any utility to us, we call it a waste. For instance, left over food, pet bottles, plastic bags, discarded clothes, shoes etc. The moment we decide that something is lost its value for our usage, we categorise it as waste and want that to be out from in front of our eyes. So, what we consider as wastes are either given to municipal (or private) waste collectors. We can classify wastes in four broad categories: 1) Wet waste, 2) Dry waste, 3) Hazardous and Medicinal wastes and 4) Waste related to construction materials. Out of these 4 broad categories, except the hazardous wastes, everything else can be used.

Wet wastes are primarily kitchen wastes or vegetable wastes generated from any source be it households, markets, hotels etc. the entire waste can be used for composting purpose. composts are not only sold in market to the farmers, but are equally useful for all of us to use in our gardens, whether be it kitchen or balcony gardens or lawns. And, the composting process is extremely simple for anyone. Moreover, the bad odor while producing compost is a myth. There is a liquid that removes entire odor of the wet waste that is used for composting.

The entire dry waste is recyclable. The prices vary according to the material and their conditions. Recyclers purchase each of these dry wastes. They use these dry waste either for their own recycling unit or sell it further to some other manufacturer. All of us have seen that the informal rag pickers collect wastes from road or from households, who we call as “Kabadiwalas”. If you notice closely, you will see that they only take those wastes, which they can sell to recycles at a much higher value. And, many of us do sell them anything they are willing to pay is for, ranging from old newspapers to discarded televisions, mobile phones etc. This always poses a big danger for all of us. The reason being that these rag pickers sell whatever the recyclers buy and dispose of the rest either by burning or dumping it in open space. Many a times these includes hazardous wastes also and in this process significant pollution and health hazards are created.

Hazardous wastes are those which are toxic in nature and can create pollution to air, surface and water bodies. This is the waste which needs to handles with extreme care since it directly affects human health. Therefore, this is treated separately and more cautiously compared to others. This is generally not used for any purpose and disposed off with care so that neither human beings nor ground water levels are in any contact of these materials. The construction wastes are generally used for filling up low lying areas to build further constructions.

Therefore, as I told at the beginning that waste is not a waste is actually a fact. All other wastes barring the hazardous waste has their utility and has economic value. Currently, the new phrase that represents the value of the “waste” is known as circular economy. Precisely, the waste generated in a economy is re-used and again given back to economy with an economic value attached to it. If it is so, why do I even write this article and share with you?

The catch is we, the user of the products sold to us, do not know when we discard them as waste after using it. Except a few cities, till now in India residents of different municipalities do not know what is wet, dry or hazardous waste etc. Therefore, we put anything and everything that we call as waste in a single bin dedicated for waste. At that step itself, waste becomes a waste in true sense. One we mix wastes of different types, we cannot reuse them in most of the cases. The only way we can dispose of the mixed wastes is either dump those in landfills or send to some energy plant where those can be burnt and energy can be produced in a less efficient manner.

A little bit of awareness coupled with discipline to segregate wastes into wet, dry and hazardous will benefit the entire society, in turn all of us. This will not only save our environment, but will also help those who are engaged in waste collection related activities as well as recycling activities. A little bit of effort on part of each of us can finally everyone in a much larger scale. So, do not waste your waste, utilise it.