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Tourism in Kullu Valley
Problems and Prospects of Sustainability -
Earth Summit

 
by Ben Heron
benheron@ecosse.net

In 1992, representatives of 179 governments from around the world met in Rio de Janeiro to attend the 'Earth Summit', a United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. World leaders united to sign a global environment and development action plan called Agenda 21, a document setting out the priorities for a sustainable pattern of world development into the 21st century. Agenda 21 is not specifically directed at tourism, but it acknowledges the importance of tourism in many areas of sustainable development, especially where it can help certain communities, particularly in fragile environments such as the Himalayas.

Local governments are therefore obliged to support any type of tourism that directly promotes sustainability and long-term self-sufficiency. This includes combating poverty, changing consumption patterns, conserving the environment, allocating land-use for its greatest sustainable benefits and strengthening local groups such as cooperative societies and trade unions.

In order to make tourism more sustainable, the tourists themselves also need to be more aware of the potential damage their stay in the less developed world can cause. Ultimately, the consumer is responsible for the success of tourist enterprises, so it is up to the tourist to choose responsible tour operators and travel companies who do not exploit host communities and their environments. The tourist industry and local governments must also take responsibility to reduce leakage and involve local populations with decision making and participation.

 
 

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