Sustainable tourism need of the hour

Tourism has emerged as one of the world’s fastest growing industries and a major source of revenue for many countries. Oman too is banking heavily on the sector, which has got huge endorsement from researchers for the country’s emphasis on archaeology, conservation, natural beauty and suitable climate. The country is attracting nature lovers from around the world.
The same lot of researchers, however, have sounded a warning. They have asked policymakers not to fall for ‘fancy ideas’ of turning the country into a concrete jungle by uprooting natural resources and heritage sites in the name of development.
They advise involvement of the local people in policymaking as they have a better idea of the local strength, flora and fauna and even the source of water that existed several thousand years ago.
“Heritage and culture are something that are transferred from one generation to another, and these generations are the real custodians of local culture,” said Robert Zogbi, tourism thinker and CEO of InnovationZ Hospitality Group.
Unesco-related studies have found that “like the other forms of development, tourism also has its share of problems such as social dislocation, loss of cultural heritage, economic dependence and ecological degradation”.
Thus, learning about the impact of tourism has led many people to seek more responsible holidays. “These include various forms of alternative or sustainable tourism such as ‘nature-based tourism’, ‘ecotourism’ and ‘cultural tourism’. Sustainable tourism is becoming so popular that some say what we presently call as ‘alternative’ will be the ‘mainstream’ in a decade.”
Alex Celini of UK is also in favour of sustainable development. Despite having spent only a brief period in Oman, she has developed a good understanding of the country and wants its natural beauties preserved because the “world is fast losing its natural charm and is being converted into an artificial jungle”.
According to her, the most striking feature of Oman is “the country’s individuality”. “It is hard not to be struck by the ‘uniform’ of abayas and dishdashas”.
Also, coming from a country that is very wet and green, Oman is a real land of sand. On a separate note, “I am struck by the sense of family and community that exists here”.
She lays emphasis on training the younger generation about the value of sustainable development and conservation of heritage and culture.
She called upon young Omanis to work as guardians of their country. “Please look after it and maintain its beauty and biodiversity for future generations. This is something I feel very strongly about. Omanis have a real duty to conserve what they have here. There is a real need for greater education on environmental issues — without which much of Oman’s beauty could be lost in the years to come”.