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Thursday, 07 February, 2019, 15 : 54 PM [IST]

Tourism Minister asks tourism industry to be imaginative to make tourism responsible and sustainable

MakeMyTrip celebrates its GoGreen Drive initiative in Rajasthan’s Rajasamand by planting million trees
Minister of State for Tourism, Dr KJ Alphons has urged the travel and tourism industry to be imaginative to make tourism responsible and sustainable in the country.  The Minister was speaking at an event organised by MakeMyTrip, country’s top Online Travel Company, to mark the planting of one million trees in Rajasamand district of Rajasthan as part of their GreenDrive initiative.  Delivering the keynote at the event, Alphons said that the industry as well as individuals should stop waiting for international agencies, Prime Minister or the Chief Ministers to launch initiatives and schemes, instead should think out of the box initiatives to make the planet a better place to live.  Appreciating the initiative of MakeMyTrip Foundation, the Minister said that individuals should get together to bring changes in the country. 
 
MakeMyTrip Foundation, a CSR arm of MakeMyTrip, has supported plantation of One Million Trees in Rajasthan’s Rajasamand and Udaipur districts in partnership with Seva Mandir, a local NGO which works with local communities in these districts.

Speaking about the initiative, Deep Kalra, Founder and Group CEO of MakeMyTrip  said that the success of the GoGreen Drive initiative is the success of ‘micro payments and power of many’ over the last five years.  He said that over 60% of the people who booked air-ticket on MakeMyTrip platform opted to pay an additional INR 5 for the Responsible Tourism initiative and thus become part of the initiative.  Each carrier that takes of from Delhi generates a carbon footprint of 40 tons, and one tree can only offset one ton of carbon footprint in its whole life, he said, explaining the gravity of the environmental impact travel and aviation as a sector on the nature.  Later participating in a panel discussion on the subject, Kalra said that an average Indian traveller is just not aware or bothered about things concerning environment.  He urged the industry and government to work together and create few local models which could then be expanded across India.  He also demanded immediate intervention of the government in banning single use plastic in India.
Participating in the panel discussion on Responsible Tourism, Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, said that while tourism is poised for rapid growth in the country, but the challenge before the government and the industry is making that growth responsible as well as socially enriching to the local communities. Government alone can make that happen, he said.  It requires the support of ‘local champions’, he said citing the successful model of Kumarakom in Kerala.  He said that it is important that some successful models are created first to further expand it to more places.  The Iconic Tourism Destination development strategy of the government is a step in that direction, he informed.

Mandeep Singh Soin, an advocate of eco-tourism in the country, appealed to the industry to put the environment before the customer.  The old business outlook of customer is the king needed to be revisited and replaced with environment, he said.  

Arjun Sharma of Select Group said that tourism destinations across the globe is facing the challenge of carrying capacity due to the proliferation of low cost carriers and budget hotels.  In that context, he urged for more incentives for industry for implementing responsible tourism measures.  He cited the example of real estate sector where they get 5% additional FSI for LEED Certified buildings.

 
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