Several TV and cinema personalities as well as leaders from the travel and hospitality industry have come forward to lend their support to the Responsible Traveller Campaign of the Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI).
Launched on the occasion of World Tourism Day last year, the Responsible Traveller Campaign (#IamAResponsibleTraveller) is directed at the most important stakeholders of the hospitality and travel industry, the travellers themselves. This campaign is an effort to educate, sensitize and provide simple actionable information to travellers and holidaymakers aimed at creating more equitable and sustainable opportunities for travel and exploration of the world.
The celebrities who have come forward in support of RTSOI’s Responsible Traveller Campaign include prolific actors Neena Gupta, Gulshan Grover, Kabir Bedi, Anuradha Patel and Avijit Dutt as well as singer Talat Aziz. RTSOI has also been able to inspire Arjun Mathur, the noted Indian actor nominated for the Emmy Award, to take the message of Responsible Travel to the masses as the Brand Ambassador of RTSOI.
In her address, actor Neena Gupta said, “When I go for a walk in Mukteshwar, which is a beautiful place, I see a lot of plastic bottles and snacks wrappers that have been thrown away by people. You can imagine what would happen if this continues. So, I request you that if you have to use plastic bottles, put a bag in your car and put those bottles after consumption in that bag and then dispose of the bottles properly. Else you can keep a flask with you and fill it up with water whenever required, which will help solve the problem of plastic bottles.”
Shedding light on how small actions by travellers can make a difference, actor Kabir Bedi said, “We are all hoping that when this pandemic abates, we can all start travelling again. We can go and see the mountains, forests, lakes, beautiful historical monuments, picturesque backwaters and all the wonderful places we want to go. But the world in which we are now travelling is different. In the same way that we protect ourselves, we need to protect our environment and the planet. Every time you go to a place, contribute to its economy, buy local, respect its environment by not leaving behind plastic, paper and all the rubbish that tourists normally leave. Leave the place better than when you found it. Be a responsible traveller and support the Responsible Tourism Society of India.”
Actor and RTSOI’s Brand Ambassador Arjun Mathur gave a “Five-a-holiday” guideline to be a responsible traveller. He said, “Opt for genuine eco-stays and homestays that are owned and run by local families, grow their own food, segregate and compost their waste, use alternate energy, encourage native vegetation and are built with natural materials. Ditch packaged drinks and food. The plastic generated from bottled water and packaged snacks is hugely polluting and ends up in a landfill. Carry a reusable water bottle and a tiffin for snacks from local eateries. Spend time learning about local environmental and social issues. Identify NGOs in the region and perhaps include a few days of volunteering work in your schedule. When buying souvenirs, choose to pay a fair price for local handicrafts instead of cheap plastic trinkets that will soon be forgotten. Do not visit wild animal exhibits, especially those that will allow you to handle the animals, which violates all animal welfare standards. Instead, visit national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and legitimate conservation centres.”
RTSOI, earlier known as the Ecotourism Society of India, was established by senior and committed industry professionals, government officials, environmentalists and a parliamentarian in 2008. RTSOI and its work resonate with a lot of people including thinkers, intellectuals, celebrities and industry leaders, particularly from the hospitality and travel industry. Its governing body is composed of some stellar names from these industries and includes many ex-Bureaucrats who have dedicated their lives for public service. The Society is recognized by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India as its ‘Sustainability Partner’ through a Memorandum of Understanding in March 2016.
The Responsible Traveller Campaign is a holistic approach covering all aspects of the environmental and cultural heritage of a destination along with an inclusive form of commerce, which benefits the local community. Responsible Tourism requires that operators, hoteliers, governments, local people and tourists take responsibility and action to make tourism more sustainable. RTSOI has drafted clear, concise and easy to act RESPONSIBLE TRAVELLER GUIDELINES on how to be a Responsible Traveller. To make India a ‘Sustainable Tourism Destination’, the traveller, the tourism industry and the government will need to join hands for responsible action.
Mandip Singh Soin, Founding President and Member-Governing Council, RTSOI, said, “The Responsible Traveller Campaign aims to bring the message of sustainability and responsible travel to the masses. That is why we at RTSOI have devised simple and actionable points. At RTSOI, although we conduct very specialized studies along with the likes of Tourism Boards across India, including GOI, we do understand that the common man has little use for such policy driving studies and data. Yet, the ordinary traveller is the most impactful on the ground force. They are best reached through the popular medium with simple messages. That is where we are indebted to our celebrity friends who have wholeheartedly given their voice to this noble endeavour.”
The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in association with RTSOI, will officially launch a campaign on World Tourism Day on 27th September 2021 to sensitize domestic travellers on responsible travel practices to make destinations more sustainable, which will be a national campaign disseminated in vernacular languages for the benefit of all Indians.