TODAY -

Sustainable Tourism: A Failure To Link Theory To Practice

Laifungbam Debabrata Roy *

Manipur Tourism Logo



Another World Tourism Day is round the corner. Government agencies, the hospitality industry and motivated tour operators will join hands to celebrate this day yet again. Many others will organise events to follow suit. But where is tourism going? The economies of Thailand and Nepal, heavily dependent on tourism, are the worst economies of the Asian region. Is there a lesson to be learnt?

Since the mid-90s a lot of criticism of tourism emerged, especially new forms of tourism and the way it is being uncritically sought to be expanded. The initial criticisms were more in the nature of a challenge to start thinking and discussing critically about this sector; but since then, empirical knowledge has increased to base a more informed appraisal of the experience.

The progress in a promoting a more locally rooted, more equitable and environmentally friendly tourism in the past 20 years has been painfully slow. Understanding the reasons why this is so, and overcoming obstacles to change, remains a fundamental challenge.

Despite the significant attention paid by tourism academics and practitioners to sustainable tourism development in recent years, there has been a consistent failure within the tourism literature to relate the concept to the theory of its parental paradigm, sustainable development. As a result, the applicability of sustainable development to the specific context of tourism is rarely questioned. What remains still to emerge is a practical model of development theory and the notion of sustainability, which is possible to compare against the principles of sustainable tourism.

Tourism development remains embedded in early modernisation theory whilst the principles of sustainable tourism overlook the characteristics of the production and consumption of tourism. As a result, significant differences between the concepts of sustainable tourism and sustainable development are revealed, suggesting that the principles and objectives of sustainable development cannot be transposed onto the specific context of tourism.

The United Nations is on the brink of bringing into action a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets that aims to "Make Poverty History". It is a unique tool designed primarily for negotiators, technical support teams and other actors engaged in defining a universal, integrated and transformational set of global goals and targets for sustainable development and the political declaration on the post-2015 development Agenda. SDG No.1 addresses just that - to end extreme poverty by 2030! SDG No. 13 also aims to stop climate change. These are definitely very tall orders.

The "jewels" of new tourism from the Maldives to Kiribati and Tuvalu in the Pacific are today in very real danger of literally disappearing under the rising ocean waves, whereas global inequality is rapidly accelerating! Unless Western consumption style practices are seriously curbed, and their rapid spread seriously tempered (especially in China and India where industrialisation is breathtaking), there is a disastrous implication looming. Tourism needs to take its temperature within this global context of change and decide its path in averting or encouraging the onset of this crisis.

Globalisation is the mantra being promoted globally by the G-8 countries, recognised now as the single global imperial power. Spread of consumerist lifestyles associated with their political and economic platforms gave rise to a number of movements to counter-balance this push. Prime among these is the anti-globalisation movement that makes its presence felt in each meeting of the G-8 powers. The "Pink Tide" of Latin America is a potentially significant challenge to counter-balance the G-8 powers' wisdom and appropriateness in pursuing the "Washington Consensus". The "war on terror" has also resulted in very significant changes in our patterns of behaviour and movement. All these trends of events, consumption behaviour and movement have direct and indirect effects on the development of tourism.

The December 2004 Asian Tsunami, the 2015 Nepal Earthquake which affected millions of people across many countries with many thousands of people who tragically lost their lives seem to stand for the fragility and resilience of tourism. The rebuilding and rehabilitation that follow these disasters provides a reminder of the potential advantages of locally generated and led development. In Thailand and India, after the tsunami, local people were literally transported out from their lands, which were grabbed by the lure of tourism dollars.

Manipur is embarking on a potentially dangerous trend of tourism development that is ill-informed, unsustainable, non-participatory and denies the essential creation of jobs, promotes local culture and products, understanding and stewardship of local ecosystems. This is being led by a government that is notoriously ignorant, contemptuous of democracy and people's aspirations and living in a make belief world that is blind to the an inclusive development agenda awakening across the world today.

The government of Manipur, spearheading this headlong rush and gush in tourism, has yet to begin to try to understand the arguments and needs for new models of Third World tourism. This ranges from the appearance of a viable and sustainable development theory to fair-trade practices and pro-poor development potential. The promotion of people-centred approaches to development must take precedence over many other existing priorities, and this should find resonance with pro-poor, community-centred, tourism initiatives as a counter-balance to top-down and trickle-down approaches to tourism master planning in Third World destinations - something glaringly missing today in Manipur. At the same time, we have to guard against development spin and liberal use of 'pro-poor' as a development prefix, in the same way that 'eco-' became a prefix in the tourism industry.

The core of the argument remains in that development is an inherently unequal and uneven process, symbolised by the diasporic and increasingly thwarted movements of Third World migrants to the First World, starkly contrasted by accelerating movements of relatively affluent Western tourists to the Third World and the ideology of freedom of movement that supports this.

The question is can new forms of tourism become a significant game changer in Manipur's development? In the context of increasing inequality, perpetuating social and ethnic hostilities and poverty, the overall size of the tourism industry (often invoked by tourism advocates to explain why it should be a major force in development) and the advances made, I would advise that we remain cautious.

According to the UN, the progress in reducing poverty has now has slowed depressingly to a "snail's pace". We need to start from an assessment of the structures and powers that would determine the fate of tourism in Manipur. It is, perhaps, only too easy to be seduced by the possibilities inferred from what remain very few examples of positive change. This is not a "do nothing" prescription but a contribution to understanding the wider regional and global contexts within which tourism operates and from which responses must be forged.


* Laifungbam Debabrata Roy wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is the President of the Centre for Organisation and Education (CORE), a policy research and education organisation based in Manipur. He may be reached at laifungbam(aT)coremanipur(doT)org
This article was posted on September 24 2015.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.


LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Lafoi Shamda puthorkpa #2 : Gallery
  • Sangai Fest: Commercial Stalls #3: Gallery
  • The joy of living :: Poem
  • Bamboo a tree or grass ?
  • SELF Workshop on Leadership & Fulfilment
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Fight against corruption; we need Lokayukta
  • Hailing the role of drivers
  • Nangna Helli Nungshiba #2 :: eRang
  • Pung Chollom : Gallery
  • Wakhal Seireng :: Book Review
  • Imphal Jamboree by Global Shapers
  • Importance of regular health check-ups
  • Meetei demand for ST is Constitutional.. #2
  • Weapon Display organized at Moreh
  • Ex-Servicemen Rally organized
  • AR helps Orphanage & Old Age Home
  • Search of comprehensive culture & identity
  • List of MLA (Jan 2018) #1 : Gallery
  • Manipur Gas Today :: Android App
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #3: Gallery
  • GNRC media fellowship announced
  • The Meiteis- Festival & celebration maniacs
  • How to make bridal mehndi long lasting
  • Governor's attention drawn to RIMS
  • Scientist develops prototype of electric car
  • Stereotypes about NE make people living..
  • Light Show at Loktak Lake #5 : Gallery
  • Candlelight vigil for Pravish : Gallery
  • Imbroglio of ethnic identity of Ranglong
  • Foundation For Excellence scholarship
  • Time Table - Class XII Exam 2018
  • Mail spoofing- Trickery by deception
  • Trial by fire
  • Call for solution before election
  • Villagers along Myanmar border get pass
  • Meetei Chanu 2017 #3 : Gallery
  • Tonreimung, Willubuibou: eMing
  • Art and Artist, A Creative Space
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows #2 : Gallery
  • Ode to Thy Mellow Light :: Poem
  • Xmas with Meitei eche at Phaijol
  • Time Table - Class XI Exam 2018
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • IMC , now another hurdle to traffic mgmt
  • Setting aside two days for the people
  • Maring: Kummui Chaa-um : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #5 : Gallery
  • Statehood Day Women's Polo Tournament
  • Time Table - HSLC Exam 2018
  • Bananas: Beauty's best friend
  • DPC for Follower at Manipur Police
  • Job Openings at JCRE Skill Solutions
  • The lost treasure
  • Nagas' Interests : Stand of NPF MSU
  • Nagaland polls on schedule: HM
  • Mukna Kangjei Tournament #2: Gallery
  • Keisham Manihar : Natyabhusan(Leela)
  • World Tourism Day #3: Gallery
  • Responsibility of protecting the environment
  • Phishing vs Vishing: The Verbal Challenge
  • BNHS Bi-monthly Program for Jan-Feb
  • Managing weight for preventing diabetes
  • Making democracy peoples' participatory
  • Progressing from media to SC
  • Manipur to set up modern food lab
  • Gaan Ngai @ Kakhulong Khun: Gallery
  • A trip to Moreh #2 : Gallery
  • How long catchy slogans keep hopes alive
  • Recycling of hospital waste-water
  • I am sometime or somewhere : Poem
  • Angami Zapu Phizo's Surreal 2017 AD
  • Film "Legacy Of King Narak" awarded
  • Of PM and our CM
  • Patronising the killing machines ?
  • Deferment of polls unlikely: Ravi
  • PM may visit Manipur in March
  • Emoinu Khoiramba @Koubru #2: Gallery
  • NEROCA FC Vs East Bengal #2: Gallery
  • Transform Colleges into Innovation Centres
  • New Delhi: World Book Fair 2018 :: Review
  • Cry Of A Dying River...12 :: Poem
  • Workshop on National Pension for NE
  • Law enforcers action - Well & good
  • Final pact yet to see light of day
  • Cold wave hits Manipur
  • Take out the cymbals, Manoharsai to stay
  • Indo-Naga Peace Process :: Articles
  • MaiOn - Scenes #2 :: eRang
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #2: Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #4 : Gallery
  • Is Global Warming Natural or Anthropogenic
  • Prof Gangmumei Kamei: Legendary hero
  • Common Education System rally organized
  • DAMMS launched 2018 calendar
  • Chorus for 'Solution Not Election'
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows #1 : Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @Moirangkhom : Gallery
  • I was born healthy, I wanna die healthy
  • Practice peace & change the life
  • TSA Moreh Block installed
  • Cycle Rally: common education system
  • Ethics, medical profession & soaring fees
  • Meetei Chanu 2017 #2 : Gallery
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Meira rally for Pravish : Gallery
  • Accelerate momentum to endTB for SDGs
  • The call that can't be turned down
  • Live@MDU: New act with same old vibes
  • 1st Centre of Excellence- Electronics Skill
  • LED Lights installed by Loktak Station
  • NE tragedy: Policy failures & influx
  • Angaoba - Scenes #3 :: eRang
  • 51st Mr Manipur Contest 2017 #3 : Gallery
  • Result: Manipur Sangai Intl Digital salon
  • Use Swachhata App to Make Imphal No. 1
  • Career @ events and celebration
  • Night nourishing
  • Indo-Nepal Friendship: 25 yrs of Don Bosco
  • Understanding the indices of life
  • Poppy cultivation & drug cartels
  • Emoinu Khoiramba @Koubru #1: Gallery
  • Day 10: Closing of Sangai Fest #4 : Gallery
  • The creation of the universe, matter...
  • Mumbai: The city of dreams
  • Let this new year kill your new fears
  • Asian Waterbird Census: Count waterbirds
  • Looking for a better inclusive alternative
  • Coaching & commercialisation of education
  • New Year picnic @ Singda Dam : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #3 : Gallery
  • Despite Stolen Dreams :: Book Rvw
  • Handloom Training @Hojai : Gallery
  • The Perfect timing
  • IGAR (south) meets Chief Minister
  • Communique from Neiphiu Rio on NDPP
  • Discussion on 'Rohingyas' at Delhi
  • In the process of making change- Manipur
  • Looking ahead from vantage point 2017
  • NEROCA FC Vs East Bengal #1: Gallery
  • World Tourism Day #2: Gallery
  • Immediate Manipur
  • Easter Peace :: Poem
  • You are what you eat
  • Goals for Girls: Leadership Summit @Delhi
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #1: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Front Page Photo #6: Gallery
  • LUCIFER-X released debut EP
  • ..on the ocean of despondence :: Poem
  • Happy new year to State lovers
  • New year, new me: Re-designing self
  • Quiz Competition & Career Awareness
  • Calendar for the Year 2018 :: e-pao Tools
  • Gaan Ngai : Zeliangrong festival :: Flash
  • 51st Mr Manipur Contest 2017 #2 : Gallery
  • Crowd @ Flower Festival @Mao #4: Gallery
  • Gaan-Ngai Festival of Zelianglong
  • Goodbye 2017, welcome 2018
  • Cry of a dying river- 11 :: Poem
  • Free Heart OPD & Echocardiogram
  • Peoples' mandate: what next?
  • Understanding Manipur and its history
  • Kwatha (Indo-Myanmar Border) #2: Gallery
  • Thang Ta @Parlimentary : Gallery
  • A Hymn for Goddess Emoinu
  • Bamboo for poverty alleviations
  • A costly peace deal
  • The song of the speech-impaired : Poem
  • Opportunity for NE Youth @Delhi/NCR
  • Chief Of Army Staff visits Manipur
  • Waiting for another begining
  • NE: Little change albeit promises galore
  • Flower Festival @ Mao #3 : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #2 : Gallery
  • Why the Ngamu Fish ?
  • Unsung heroes
  • Wishing a goa in Manipur!
  • Handloom Weaver at Nagaon, Assam
  • Reminder on role of media & political party
  • Hospital death: Deliver justice if delivery ..
  • Restricted Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • Lourembam Bedabati : Sangeetbhusan
  • Culturals @ Mera Houchongba #3 : Gallery
  • Handloom Training @Assam : Gallery
  • Ras Leela @Parliment committee: Gallery
  • List of RIST popular talks during 2014-2017
  • 'Good Governance Day' & Manipur
  • Christmas eve @ CCpur #2 : Gallery
  • Public Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • Pui Thangamliu #2 :: eRang
  • Christmas Carol @ Lamphel : Gallery
  • Royal Crematorium at Bangkok #2 : Gallery
  • Christmas Carol at Namdulong : Gallery
  • General Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • 3rd Flower Festival @ Mao #2 : Gallery
  • Lafoi Shamda puthorkpa #1 : Gallery
  • Nupilal Ningsing Lamjen : Gallery
  • cYK_rb TwaI :: Seireng
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #7 : Ooba
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2018 : Download it
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS