The perils of tourism
And how tourism kills tourism must be thought over
BILAL AHMAD BHAT
Unless the environment is safe-guarded, tourism is in danger of being a self-destructive process, destroying the very resources upon which it is based. The relationship between tourism development, socio-economic development and the environment is circular and cumulative. Most tourism activities place additional pressures on the environmental resources upon which it is based, compromising the present and future interests of tourist and host populations as well as of tourism organizations. Without adequate environmental protection, prospects for development will be undermined.
There is an essential need to build on the positive links between the environment and tourism and to break the negative links. The latter will not be easy, however, owing to the conflicts of interest that occur. The positive links may be described as win-win situations, benefiting environment and development prospects alike. Negative links are also likely to occur. To break these, trade-offs will have to be made between conservational and developmental goals. An identification of the extent and nature of these trade-offs will be facilitated by environmental accountancy procedures which include environmental auditing. It has been noted that tourism development carries within it the seeds of its own destruction, and this factor should be considered in all development and planning proposals. If the number or concentration of visitors, both in spatial and seasonal terms, exceeds a community’s physical carrying capacity, deterioration of such basic resources as landscape and water supplies can occur. It will transform what was intended to be a non-consumptive, renewable resource industry into yet another short-term boom and bust enterprise.
Tourism in Kashmir is of different forms and particularly pilgrimage tourism is of most significant which is advantageous as well as disadvantageous for the society of Kashmir. Around 500,000 pilgrims have so far performed this year’s Amaranth Yatra. Concerned authorities like tourism department is only concerned about the huge tourist flow but care less particularly about the adverse impact on the environment which is the habitat of diverse components like trees, plants and animals. Huge rush of tourists in Dachigam national park led to the increase of dog population which lead to the threat of Hangul population which is already under endangered category. The main cause was that tourists used to leave wastage within the park which has lead to huge rush of dogs in the park. It is a matter of concern the huge wastage which is left by these pilgrims or tourists in the natural habitat will make the natural inhabitants vulnerable to extinction.
No government has ever talked about the sustainable development of pilgrimage tourism in Kashmir. Second important issue which is related to tourism is construction of hotels in the lush green forests which is posing a threat to the wildlife. Government should always formulate the policies and planning’s from the different shades of the society particularly the academicians who are aware about the diverse impact of tourism or any other issue. Government allowed somebody for construction of hotel Taj in the lap of Zabarwan hill. One day it will be very impossible to manage the wastage which will cause the collapse of tourism industry in Kashmir.
The ecology and aesthetic beauty of Kashmir has undergone radical transformation during the last decades as a consequence of domestic and international tourists. The water bodies, the natural springs, the snow covered peaks, glaciers and trekking routes have been degraded because of the careless attitude of the tourists and inadequate investment of the maintenance of environment in a healthy and sustainable condition. The pathetic condition of the ecology of Dal commenced with the misuse of its crystal clear waters. Wrappers, vegetable peelings (due to floating vegetable markets, though the farmers reap huge profits), empty cigarette cases and other constituents of garbage are seen floating in its water. The rate of water- pollution in Dal Lake is alarmingly high. Asia’s famous largest lake Wullar is being polluted by the community which inhabits there. The aquatic life, both animals and plants, in these water bodies should be studied as well as preserved.
The other activities that are posing substantial threat to the existing ecological balance in Kashmir include deforestation, uncontrolled establishments and unskilled townships. These problems are aggravating continuously. If not checked now, these problems will ruin all the natural resources and outlook of the valley turning it into a desert. Then the floods or the drought will be a regular phenomenon in the valley. Due to huge flow of tourists, private vehicles have increased and roads choked. Enforcement of air pollution standards is an urgent necessity. The tourism has played no less a role in contributing to the pollution and contamination of the atmosphere and physically of the lake area but also created imbalance in the natural phenomena. It seems to be national feature of tourism to create imbalance in nature and putting the national heritage in danger. The tourist garbage, refuse and night soil not only raises the bed but also contaminates the lake waters which in olden days used to be coveted as an Elysian around. Now the Dal offers nothing short of infection and diseases.
The government should implement the laws governing the environment and work for sustainable development of tourism in Kashmir. Government should restrict the number of vehicles by arranging high end luxury buses that accommodate more persons and cause less pollution for the tourists once they reach Kashmir.
(Bilal Ahmad Bhat is a research scholar in the Department of Sociology, University of Kashmir. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Mon, 23 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 23 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 24 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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