By Dripto Mukhopadhyay
There is a big conflict between current reality and goals of sustainable tourism development. One of the key issues that led to the rise of the need for the sustainable tourism development was leakage of revenue from the tourism destinations. This leakage was/is due to the very simple reason that the major enterprises are owned by non-locals. The profits generated from the tourism activities are not reinvested in the area due to obvious reasons. Therefore, the profit generation does not ensure any income/investment/employment multiplier effect in the region.
Coupled with this, the skilled manpower required for running the enterprises are not easily available within the region. Again, the non-locals skilled manpower engaged for running the show, sent back a substantial portion of their earning to their native places as remittance. The locals are mostly engaged in works that require lesser aptitude and therefore live at a threshold level only. That too, their number constitute a small portion of the local households. Most of the members of the local communities are engaged in some other activities and in most of the cases these activities are lowly paid.
To avoid this situation, the entrepreneurs and the investors need to belong from the local region. In most of the cases its difficult to find investors in these areas. However, lets assume that local investment is possible and available. Even it does not solve the problem. Anyone who is capable of investing such amount for any particular services, will have his own agenda and the profit generated in such situation will be used to fulfill his agenda rather than the interest of the community. Thus, the percolation of benefits to the grass root level does not seem to be the possible outcome even if the revenue does not get leaked from the region.
So, where is the plausible model for developing sustainable tourism? Do we ultimately depend on “Small is Beautiful”? Only the small scale activities are more suitable for the concept of sustainable tourism? Perhaps the answer lies in more real life research on several areas representing various characteristics of tourism activities. This will enable us to come up with viable models for sustainable tourism.