It is said that ‘if there are two people, there are normally three opinions’. When tragedy strikes, especially natural disasters, many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ come to the fore along with opinions and debates galore. It’s an endless blame game without a solution. The catastrophe in Uttarakhand has once again warned us and hopefully taught us the lessons of responsible development – keeping pace with the place and not abusing it with criminal concretisation and industrialisation. Some places have a fragile disposition and an eco-system that should not be tampered with. Such places perform best when development is undertaken in a steady, sensible and sustainable way. Rapid and mindless expansions, short term policies and unwanted deforestation will only bring harm and the only way to bring harmony is through responsible actions.
For over a decade, responsible and sustainable tourism has been a priority topic at global conferences. The few torch bearers of this very serious issue have mentioned time and again how vital it is to activate responsible tourism plans into real-time workable action plans. Interestingly, the international conference on Responsible Tourism that was held in Kerala recently, emphasised how crucial it is for the local communities to take responsibility on improving their towns and villages. It is about grassroot mobilisation and taking action against any unhealthy development in the region that can lead to future devastation.
Our cover story this issue, which is about a niche tourism product of waterfalls, also emphasises on the importance of responsible and sensible tourism development at these fragile nature hubs. Safe, sustainable and responsible tourism is the only answer and solution for long term development. We need to be our very own tourism police and act with discipline and concern. A careless and commercial approach toward tourism can only lead to disaster and we will have only ourselves to blame, and not nature, for what unfolds.