It’s been about a year since WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. We have seen the world crash around us and it almost seemed as if movie predictions of doomsday would come true. The Indian tourism and hospitality industry is staring at a potential job loss of around 38 million, which is around 70 percent of the total workforce. The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) estimates the hotel, aviation, and travel sector together may incur a loss of about ₹85 billion due to travel restrictions imposed on foreign tourists, outbound travel and inbound travel to India will be at an all-time low and it will impact both white and blue-collar jobs.
Yet, hope prevails. In spite of all odds, we’ve experienced resilience as humanity has come together to cope with the looming uncertainty. It is time we all come together to rethink tourism practices.
While the industry is still going through a difficult phase, inaugural platforms like ITB India gives an opportunity to come together to think about a way ahead with its theme of “Rebuilding Travel”. Amongst the many panels on this subject ranging from newer trends in tourism to thinking about what is normal in these uncertain times, there is also a panel discussing the ethical frameworks of tourism. The panel will explore the possibility of an integration of tourism with the concept of a holistic, sustainable quality of life for communities and will unpack the ethical dimensions of tourism. The speakers, Joyatri Ray and KT Suresh of EQUATIONS’ – Equitable Tourism Options, Bengaluru will be drawing from 35 years of work on tourism. EQUATIONS believes that at this critical juncture when we are thinking about revival and reboot of tourism which has offered us an unparalleled opportunity to integrate ethical practices in tourism.
Most of the tourism sector is held together by a host of unheard voices who make up the largest percentage of the workforce. Hawkers, auto drivers, artisans, small tour operators, vendors, and guides from tourism towns and nearby villages who have been primarily dependent on tourism have found it extremely difficult to cope with the loss of income. It is crucial that at this point in time, we engage in conversations and dialogue with the whole range of tourism actors and address diverse realities. The panel will explore ethical principles that seek to create shared values for all tourism stakeholders.
The panel will be delving into questions like – can we make a choice to ensure that our supply chain is based on the local vendors and producers; can we think of having quality participation of women in this supply chain; can we make a choice to hear the unheard voices and explore a process that enables patient listening from a diverse group of people/stakeholders in tourism to shape up tourism as we reboot; can we make a choice that is based on strong principles of ethics based on the intersectionality of social, economic and environmental principles?
We are intuitively aware that in the near future, we will mark this time as one that separates the life before the pandemic and the life after. When we think of what we need to do, it’s imperative that we understand ethics is not alien and it emanates from all the choices that we make. We are at a crossroads of change. Can we make a choice to offer a kind of tourism that nurtures exchange between tourists and communities of the destination and allow for holistic and sustainable development of the place and its people?
To listen to the talk, you can visit www.itb-india.com. C-Suite Talk – Ethical Tourism: Creating a Framework That Works, April 9 @ 12:40 PM – 1:00 PM UTC+5.5
Siddhi Pendke is a researcher on EQUATIONS’ and oversees the work on tourism in heritage areas. She also looks at work related to women and children in tourism.
Nayana Udayashankar is a researcher at EQUATIONS. She oversees the work on tourism in forest areas, coasts, hills, and mountains. She has also engaged with theoretical concepts of tourism carrying capacity and how these can be actualized.