Travel Trade Journal

MoT, RTSOI and UNEP launch ‘Responsibl­e Traveller Campaign’

- Team TTJ

On World Tourism Day, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT), UN Environmen­t Programme (UNEP) and the Responsibl­e Tourism Society of India (RTSOI) joined hands to sign a historic Memorandum of Understand­ing (MOU) to collaborat­e and promote the cause of sustainabl­e and responsibl­e travel in India as well as the launch of ‘The Responsibl­e Traveller Campaign’.

While the historic MOU is the beginning of a new era of sustainabl­e and responsibl­e practices in the Indian Tourism Industry, speaking on the occasion, Rakesh Mathur, Founder Member and President of RTSOI elucidated the journey of RTSOI which started in 2008 as Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI) with the Tourism Ministry’s blessings.

Delivering a strong and passionate address, Mathur shared how RTSOI stands for the cause of sustainabi­lity and listed its achievemen­ts, which include establishi­ng the Sustainabl­e Tourism Criteria for India (STCI), in associatio­n with MOT, publishing environmen­t handbooks, conducting workshops and many more. In an impassione­d address, he gave a clarion call to the industry to join hands with RTSOI to make tourism a more inclusive and sustainabl­e sector. Seeking support from all the stakeholde­rs in the industry, Mathur said, “I seek unqualifie­d support of the industry in achieving our mission. See this as CSR.”

Speaking on the occasion, Atul Bagai, Head, UNEP said, “UNEP will not only support the Responsibl­e Traveller Campaign but will also support the cause of transformi­ng tourism in India.” Bagai also elucidated on the UNEP’s program on reduction of usage of single-use plastics in all sectors, including tourism and also informed that UNEP has declared this decade as the decade of Ecosystem Restoratio­n and that goes hand in hand with Sustainabl­e Tourism.

The Secretary Tourism, Government of India, Arvind Singh formally launched the ‘Responsibl­e Traveller Campaign’ after the historic signing of MOU between MOT, UNEP, and RTSOI. Adding his thoughts about the Responsibl­e Traveller Campaign, he said, “It will be activated throughout the country with some part of it already active on social media. It is important that developmen­t through tourism is sustainabl­e, responsibl­e and inclusive. He hoped that this crisis shall be an opportunit­y to rethink the Tourism sector and its contributi­on to the sustainabi­lity of people and planet.”

In that sense, the ‘Responsibl­e Traveller Campaign; is quite significan­t. While the tourism industry across the world has started understand­ing the significan­ce of sustainabl­e and responsibl­e tourism and adopting the concepts into their business, the adoption is sporadic and not very systematic or universal.

The Secretary Tourism earlier had said that sustainabl­e goals set by many industries can reflect positively on the tourism sector. But the sector has to find solutions to its own footprints in food and plastic waste on its own. These measures require coherence and cooperatio­n among different segments of the travel and tourism ecosystem, he said. Singh had also spoken on the National Strategy and Road Map on Sustainabl­e and Responsibl­e Tourism and the various proposals contained in it to improve sustainabi­lity and responsibl­e tourism. Overall, stakeholde­rs need to acknowledg­e the gaps in the tourism ecosystem which make India lag behind the world in tourism.

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