Paradoxes Of Tourism Sector

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Nepal’s tete-a-tete with tourism is waltzing into the seventh decade of this epoch. And Nepal is a hands-in-glove economy dependent on "tourism-related paraphernalia that sustains our wobbling economy that often seems to be sauntering with crutches. In today’s spectrum, ‘furloughs’ aren’t seen as a luxury but have become a way of life for most of the dwellers on this Earth.

And the freedom to travel is codified as part of "human rights'. At such junctures, it is imperative to dwell on the myriad paradigms of tourism. The "tourism paradox is the phenomenon where the tourism industry gnaws at the natural and cultural environment that is sine qua non for tourism activities. The tourism paradox is the flip side of the coin of unsustainable tourism. The theory of ‘Tourism Paradox’ hovers around the periphery and indomitably asserts that the tourism industry is the only development model for a country with its natural and cultural resources, which can not only maraud the environment and social life but also gobble up the tourism industry itself.

Economy

The economy, which literally eats, lives, and breathes on tourism-related hubbubs and unabashedly follows the equation "More Tourists More Tourism", which is seemingly benign but it’s only the tip of an iceberg. Although tourism-related paraphernalia generates beneficial outcomes, it also has jaundiced impacts on the sustainability of traditional settlements and historical destinations, along with their natural and cultural resources.

Tourism is in fact a double-edged sword; if not manoeuvred with utmost vigilance, it gnaws into the finite fragments of the host society. The irony is that the more tourism-related attributes there are, the more they infiltrate the community's veneer and braze the host entity in retrospect.The paradigm on which the tourism industry thrives and the notion that the higher the number of tourists visiting a destination, the higher will be the income for the destination, do sound melodious to the ears at first, but along with the increased tourism activities, new buildings, new lifestyles, foreign capital, and new socio-economic relationships appear rapidly at the destination and replace the orthodox ones. The ratcheting up of tourist arrivals gives the appearance of increasing the desirability of the destination. However, this icing on the cake has detrimental effects perambulating on social, cultural, economic, and environmental problems faced by the local inhabitants and as well as by the tourists at the destinations by disturbing the socio-cultural balance of local communities, culturally commoditizing local cultures, overcrowding a heritage site, environmentally increasing the carbon footprint, pollution of water resources, and destruction of the eco-system, and economically inflating the prices and land speculation.

"The tourism paradox" begins to emerge at this juncture when the natural and cultural resources that are worth seeing are devoured by the travelers and tourists. To negotiate this effect, myriad projects focusing on and emphasizing economic and social benefits have to be introduced and implemented with veracity.

Perhaps, since heritage is the only thing people wish to hand down from generation to generation, it has become imperative to engage in its preservation and survival. Tourism often thrives on the paradox that "tourism" is like a fire that can cook a meal or totally smolder everything in it.

The impacts of tourism depend on how it is developed, managed, and consumed. Breathtaking, exotic locations, pristine dales, rabbles, and mountain tops and slopes are in fact transitional zones characterized by species-enriched eco-systems. The threats to and pressure on these ecosystems are often severe, as such places are very alluring to both tourists and developers.

The ecosystems that are most threatened with degradation are ecologically fragile areas such as wetlands, rain forests, mangroves, coral reefs, and seagrass beds in alpine regions in the global context, and in the Nepalese context, our Himalayan regions, pristine lakes, and wetlands. Increased construction of tourism and recreational facilities is due to the quaffing of tourism by using land for accommodation and other infrastructure provisions and the use of building materials. Woodlands suffer the most negative impacts from tourism in the form of deforestation caused by fuel wood collection and land clearing. And it is often seen that tourism fails to integrate its silhouette with the natural features and indigenous architecture of the destination.

Myriads of destinations have suffered from untrammeled tourist expansions and the tourism paradox during the last decades, which obviously has tremendous consequences on the natural eco-system, air and water pollution, the shortage of water, the problem of waste disposal, and the transformation of small hamlets into urbanized centers. But in recent years, there have been positive changes in the psyche of the tourists meandering across the globe.

The new spectrum of sustainable tourism has been lurking around the corner and is here to stay, presenting and promoting the balance between the sustainability of culture, natural heritage, and tourism marketing.The looming question at large is ‘Can the destination be protected from the tourism paradox’? Therefore, every new project and approach to look into the eye of this bigger problem and promote healthy, sustainable tourism has become the top priority. The term "tourism equinox" refers to the situation or balance that does not change and disturbs the social and economic relations at the destination.

The name or the term ‘Equinox’ is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), as around the equinox, night and day are about equal in length. Sustainable tourism has been perceived as the ‘moderation factor’ in tourism, which abates the snags of tourism while at the same time equipping the darker shades of tourism. Regarding the phenomenon of "tourism equinox," it drastically encourages the development of cultural and rural tourism to sustain local cultures, traditional lifestyles, and industries, as it seeks to utilize resources and the environment in a sustainable way and aims to generate the local economy by providing opportunities for employment and economic development. But at the same time, it also demands an awareness of the needs of local people, respect and appreciation for culture and the environment, and achieving a balance between tourism and the environment. Soft tourism, agrotourism, and rural tourism are the doable solutions for a sustainable form of quality tourism and for a tourism equinox at the destination. As tourism is a form of conspicuous consumption and tourists exhibit their identity and social standing by the destination they choose to saunter around and the image it projects,

More Tourists

When the consumption of tourism attributes escalates and touches the calamitous icefall, it is widely experienced that the nature, environment, social structures, and dominant cultural ethnicities dwindle due to such negative consequences. As a result, many exquisite destinations have lost their characters; some have become extinct, while others linger on losing their identity. Therefore, coercing the people inhabiting such regions to scavenge for "more tourists" in order to assuage their pecuniary profit in a very enslaving manner, almost akin to drug addicts. Now  the question arises, "Is such antisepsis possible"?

The treatment is within the disease! Like in the case of drug addiction, it is possible to be cured of the addiction. Thus, the tourism paradox is the oxidation of destinations with negative effects on the tourism industry. This coveted period of tourism paradox is actually a marvelous fortuity to protect the natural and cultural resources of the destinations, and this school of thought is known as ‘Tourism Detox’ or Detoxification of Tourism.

 Tourism detox is a treatment that is intended to remove harmful elements of tourism development from destinations. Thus, spatial reorganization and urban regeneration play a crucial role in the marketing of destinations, and this transformation action affects all infrastructure facilities, the restoration of old buildings, the reorganization of the historical zone, the architecture style, cultural heritage, and local lifestyles. The paradox in this notion is that the tourism destinations can actually disengage or detach themselves to reach their natural, historical economic, and ancient social positions through consistency in society. The stakeholders of the tourism industry can be further convinced by giving tax deductions and explaining the long-term benefits of tourism detox. The target always must be to achieve ‘Tourism Equinox," and then there will be no need to worry about "Tourism Detox". The success of this tourism approach depends on effective destination management and marketing involving the principles of tourism.

(The author holds a PhD in Travel and Tourism)

Author

saudamini chalise
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