Ecotourism : Key To Sustainable Development

We celebrate World Tourism Day on 27th September and through different activities we carry the message of the importance of tourism to the masses. Every year the Madrid based World Tourism Organization(W.T.O) guides us by giving a slogan. It not only inspires us to follow the right path but also warns us about future dangers. It has been to awaken the present generation by giving such meaningful slogans like “Technology and Nature : Two challenges to tourism in the Twenty First Century” and “Tourism : Means For Peace and Dialogue Among World Civilization”. This year through a meaningful theme “Ecotourism: Key To Sustainable Development” has warned the world. Let us think it over.

Since the beginning of human development tourism is important not only economically but also socially, politically, culturally and educationally. Man’s roaming instinct has brought the world together, giving birth to the feeling of global family. When we visit another country we affect its ecology. Our presence and needs affect the culture, atmosphere and surroundings of a particular place one way or the other. The presence of a large number of tourists at a place also jeopardizes the vegetation, beings and lives of men. And hence begins imbalance in nature. This ecological imbalance upsets the harmony of life and man has to pay for it.

Modern man is grossly materialistic. He is puffed up calling himself modern. His vision is narrow, believing only in the present. He lives in the present calling the past backward and not concerned with the future. Leading a fast life, he is reduced to a machine. Years back the Hindi poet Dinkar had rightly expressed his concern :

“Listen, folks, if you can, man
Still violent, blood thirsty,
The mind demonic curious
To know the concrete
When thunders his ego
He spews venom fatal,
Forgetting the auspicious,
Science too mere source
Of destruction from him”

How can such man save the universe? When will he be concerned about the earth? Sure tremendous development has taken us to a new era. We are drunk on development. Our eyes are clouded with ignorance like Asian brown clouds over Asia. The development-afflicted eyes fail to see like such dangerous clouds that have changed the cycle of seasons. We have the turmoil of flood, drought, global warming and depletion of wild life and forest wealth.

Development dazzles us but we fail to observe the accompanying shadow of destruction. We are happy with development but years later when calamities rain from the sky we go for earth summits in Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg. Only time will tell how suicidal neglect of the earth will be for its inhabitants. But what is certain is that nature will bring about balance in whose process destruction is inevitable to prevent which we will have to consider ponder over ecological balance. We have increased resources for tourism development, facilities, and adopted new technology but have not bothered about safety from dangers caused by tourism or their solution. We have not opened doors to new destinations for tourists after assessing the enduring capacity of a particular place.

Recently my roaming tendency took me to Wyndham  Fall in Mirzapur, the adjacent district to my own. On my return the whole night many questions gnawed at me.. What right do we have to pollute the crystal waters of the fall or spoil the music of the murmuring stream with our loud tape music? To leave debris from our picnic and harm the ecology by leaving non-biodegradable plastic is a curse of modern civilization. We only know to receive, not to give. Man is cutting the branch on which he is sitting. He is bound to fall.The modern man in the name of myriad development projects is disturbing the flora and fauna and this act is as irresponsible as pulling down a great cathedral in order to grow potatoes on the site. If we were eco-friendly, things would change. Use paper, leaves, earthen pots instead of plastic.

The world has to come forward to promote ecotourism, to develop alternative nature sources of energy. A Government of India enterprise has provided, non-polluting bus from alternative energy to allow tourists to visit the Taj Mahal.; certainly a laudable effort. In Varanasi we prefer man-rowed  boats to motorboats for boat rides in the Ganga; a laudable step on part of Benarasis. But a lot more is to be done. We have only to look for the required vision. We have to love and regard Mother Nature, bearing in mind Coleridge’s lines that have become a dire necessity today.

” Lady, we receive but what we give
In Nature alone we live.”

Today we have forgotten that we are a constituent of nature. The only difference being that man with his endowment of wisdom and discretion has received more than others. For harmony and happiness all constituents have to be friendly. We have to realize that the entire universe is ours; we have to gird up our loins to wage global war against natural imbalance.

Material development is not the end, not the ultimate happiness. Human development is the ultimate goal.Mental purity alone can bring continuous development, otherwise material upliftment will prove futile. If we desire unbroken development we will have to stop the exploitation of the earth. For unhindered movement of development, we have to adopt ecotourism and to stop everything against nature.

Ecotourism alone is the key to every kind of development.