Increasing pollution is detrimental to ‘Incredible India’ image: Leading travel and tourists associations

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Hyderabad: Ahead of World Tourism Day on September 27th, leading travel and tourism associations of India have come together to appeal to the government to strengthen the packaging waste collection and recycling ecosystem; echoing cleanliness to play a vital role to attract regional and international tourists to Indian tourist destinations. The tourism industry will play a pivotal role in getting the economy back on track once India starts recovering from the pandemic. In 2019, travel and tourism industry contributed 9.3% to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and account for approximately 8.1% of the total employment opportunities. The strengthening of waste collection system and educating common citizens about the importance of responsible disposal of various types of plastics will ensure less waste littered at the tourist hotspots and other Indian cities. Currently, plastics like multilayered packaging (Chips/biscuits) and tetra packs rarely get collected due to their low value in the recycling ecosystem, other plastics like PET/HDPE bottles are the most recycled globally and fetch INR 25-30 per kg for ragpickers.

A month ago, the Indian government released the Swaccha Survekshan (Cleanliness Survey), in which many tourist hotspots like Amritsar, Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Srinagar, Varanasi Shillong, etc. received a poor rating. Also, almost half of the world’s 50 most polluted cities are in India. It projects a negative image of India/Indian destinations globally and adversely impacts tourism. The current pandemic is an opportunity to rethink the roadmap to build a clean, safe, and environment-friendly tourism ecosystem.

Mr. Pronab Sarkar, President - Indian Association of Tour Operators - National Apex Body of Tour Operators said, “Tourism sector is the key for the revival of Indian economy and cleanliness will play a pivotal role in the post-COVID era to attract tourists. Scarred and battered tourists will seek destinations that are safe, hygienic, and clean. Pollution not only affect the environment but also the culture, society, and economy adversely. Pollution with respect to tourism encompasses air emissions, noise, solid waste and littering, releases of sewage, and chemicals, even architectural/visual pollution. Most of these are easily avoidable. Better planning in terms of plastic waste disposal, collection, and recycling mechanism will usher in good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production. These will send positive signals globally that shall augur well for Indian tourism.”

“Cleanliness is the key to stimulate tourism industry in India. The habit of littering, ineffective waste management, and the pandemic has led to widespread pollution. Owing to the current pandemic, plastic waste has increased drastically, due to the surge in the usage of plastic items. But banning plastic is not a solution since COVID-19 has taught us that plastic is an essential part of our life, be it masks, PPE kits, or sanitizer bottles. The need of the hour is to educate masses about its correct disposal and recycling, especially the most recycled types of plastics, so the negative effects can be curtailed and our tourist hotspots i.e. beaches, hill stations, pilgrimage can maintain their sheen,” said Mr. Nilesh Shah- President - Travel and Tourism Association of Goa.

Subhash Goyal, Hony. Secretary- Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), “Destinations which are not only hygienically safe but also visibly clean will be preferred by the tourists.  The current pandemic has made us realize that the health of our planet is the priority, collective efforts not only by the government and municipalities but by all individuals, social, voluntary organizations, and resident welfare associations have to be made across our country to curtail littering and improve waste collection and recycling efforts. Tourists look for a surrounding which is pleasing to the eye. There should be regular cleanliness and health audits to ensure that the infrastructure and environment are pristine. If we collectively contribute towards this objective, then we could usher towards a new era of Incredible India!”


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