Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sustainable Development Through Tourism Goals 1: No Poverty

The Goal 1 of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development says that no one across the world should be living on less than $1.25 a day by the year 2030 – be it children, women or men. It also talks about ensuring that the national policies and programs are designed and implemented to reduce poverty and vulnerability of every individual.

In India, however, approximately 32.5 per cent the total population of India are living below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day.
Keeping in mind that the economic growth of the country is expected to push more people below the $1.25 border, ensuring this goal will surely be a herculean task. The tourism sector in India, which accounted for 6.3% of the nation's GDP in 2015 and growing, will surely have a role to play in meeting this goal. The question is, however, how much of this earning of $120 billion (in 2015) directly benefitted the poor of the country?
Pro-poor tourism (PPT), or tourism that generates tangible benefits for the poor, is an attempt to do just that by putting poor people and poverty at the centre of the debate on sustainable tourism. Tourism can be called pro-poor if it provides:
i. Economic gain through employment or business opportunities with tourism businesses and/or tourists; ƒ
ii. Other livelihood benefits such as access to potable water, roads which bring benefits to poor producers through, for example, improved access to markets, improved health or education etc; and ƒ
iii. Participation in decision-making processes to build tourism economies, so that the poor are able to secure better access to tourists and tourism enterprises.
Thankfully, there are few initiatives across the country that can be called pro-poor tourism projects. Durgapur, a village in the state of Assam is an example of such an initiative by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and the United Nations Development Programme. A small hamlet of 111 families by the Kaziranga National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the home to the one-horned rhinoceros) has been spruced up to offer an authentic Assamese experience. An outlet has been set-up to offer tourists Assamese and regional tribal delicacies. Village members have been professionally trained in hospitality, local art forms and tourist guide services; and travel agencies have been contacted with readymade travel packages to this unique village.
Tourists have also become conscious about leaving positive footprints to the places they travel. Take the case of Devil on Wheels, a Himalayan travel community started by a software professional, which helps fellow travellers and trekkers visiting the mountains in planning travel, and uses the opportunity to connect them directly to the local community members, who provide services of “local guides, porters, drivers, home stays, small but clean guest houses etc. so that a family or lives belonging to remote/tribal parts of Himalayas gets the actual benefit rather a middle-men who do not even care for the effort put in by the porter and reaps all the butter out of bread from him”.
There are more such initiatives though, that are needed to complement the country’s fight to end poverty. Alpaviram will keep highlighting and promoting such initiatives for responsible travellers to India to embrace, offer support to pro-poor government and private tourism initiatives, and initiate projects where they are none.

SDG 1: End poverty and all its forms everywhere
• By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day
• By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions
• Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable
• By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
• By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters
• Ensure significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions
• Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions.

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