When we talk about tourism, we mostly see it as a thing which is full of positives.
We see it as something which brings prosperity to a place. Something which provides locals with an opportunity to earn money and sustain and support their livelihood. When we see it from a traveler’s perspective we focus on them being able to experience a new place which they don’t usually get to see often. We normally think that it is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
However, it is not the whole image. With several pros, it also brings tons of cons too.
Cons, if we had to discuss are such as polluting the environment, ruining the normal lifestyle and traditions of a place and a run for the unsatisfying amount of money which never seems to be enough.
You ask why do I say that?
Okay, let me break it down for you. Consider a place which has just opened itself as a tourist destination. People will start flocking in from different parts of the world to see what this place has to offer. They will like to try different cuisines, visit local hotspots and experience the culture. The people who will visit this place will do the organic publicity both positive and negative to the outside world. If the publicity is positive for the most part then it will drive more tourism and in turn more revenue. This will lead to business owners, tourism agencies and locals to extend the welcome by accommodating all these visitors by expanding their infrastructure as fast as possible. In order to make fast and easy bucks, everyone will start taking shortcuts. They will build improper residences, sometimes serve unhygienic meals and ignore the disposal of enormous waste that will be produced(the biggest mistake which is generally ignored).
The place which was a true paradise, in the beginning, will start to lose its charm and there will be only a few particular spots that will be left to showcase its beauty which will keep on degrading day by day.
Let’s take an example, consider hill stations like Manali and Shimla. These places have attracted tourists even before our country got its Independence. With every passing year, these places have seen the growth in its tourism sector which now seems to reach its boiling point. There is no limit on how many tourists will be visiting these places in a particular season. During peak seasons there is almost no space left for parking the vehicles and hotel rooms to accommodate the tourists. Even in order to travel to Vashist from Manali which is hardly 2-3 km takes you to 2-3 hours because of traffic jams. The tourists outnumber permanent residents in those particular days of so-called “TOURIST SEASON”. The locals are already not very happy with this out of hand going “Encroachment” of their hometowns and villages. Before they openly revolt the entry of outsiders and end the dreams of many passionate travelers, it is high time we realize that something needs to be done.
For example, many Venicians(residents of Venice) are openly revolting against the entry of way too many tourists to their city because it is bringing much more harm than good. Prices of living are getting skyrocketed, food is expensive, traveling (which is only boats) is expensive, the environment is highly polluted and the stones which are submerged inside the sea and laid the foundation of this great city are getting weaker which makes it prone to submergence into the sea. Every day 2 Venicians are leaving their city forever. Isn’t it scary?
Now coming back to Himachal, what I believe is that we must put a check on the number of tourists entering a place and also on how they behave in these places. It is not an easy thing to do but even its implementation to some extent will make outsiders and locals feel responsible towards their actions and its impacts. Fear of getting fined and insulted is a big driver towards self-check. Currently, people like to throw garbage wherever they feel like, be it out of their cars while driving, or in the deep forests when they are trying to prove themselves as “Influencers”, “Social Media Celebrities” and sometimes “Explorers”. Acting in any way is fine as long as we are not harming the environment which is home to us and other animal and plants species. There are no dustbins in remote locations and local people usually burn every waste they find. So what we must be doing in such situations is instead of giving them more waste to burn, we must bring back our waste to places where we it can be dumped properly. Also we should share any knowledge that we have regarding segregation and decomposition of waste material with people around us.
Share this thought with your friends and also tell yourself and others to be more responsible when they visit Himachal anytime soon. The place is called “DevBhoomi” for a reason and let’s not make it a “DeadBhoomi”.
Jai Hind, Jai Himachal