Saturday, 30 September, 2023

Green Investments for Sustainable Tourism

Green Investments for Sustainable Tourism

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Md. Ziaul Haque Howlader

With the invention of Steam Engine by James Watt in 1765, the First Industrial Revolution takes place that help cost-efficient massive production. Then the Second Industrial Revolution embarks on in 1820 with the discovery and use of electricity. The Third Industrial Revolution began in 1969 with the invention of computers and electronics. We are now at the threshold of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) era with artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, IoT etc. The 4IR is going to be a great-leap in the development of human civilisation. Many great problems also come along with this great leap. Every industrial revolution had also witnessed various negative effects on mankind and the environment due to its uncontrolled commercial uses and rampant profiteering. The development of technology is necessary for the development of human civilisation. However, the way human needs and consumerism are being augmented owing to the development of technology, we witness it poses a serious threat to the environment and biodiversity. We are already experiencing its dire consequences such as - global warming, rapid melting of ice in Siberia, effects of El-Nino and La-Nino, frequent cyclones, epidemics like Covid-19. The hope is conscious people have come forward to rein in the ever-increasing immeasurable human needs, unbridled consumerism and excessive profiteers. International organisations are implementing different policy-programs every year through determining different themes so that people are aware and be proactive to protect this Mother Earth. The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has been celebrating World Tourism Day on September 27 every year since 1980. Each year it determines a unique theme. Based on the theme, the world tourism day is celebrated across the globe with much fervour and enthusiasm. This year's theme is 'Tourism and Green Investments' i.e. environment-friendly investment is required for the sustainable tourism development. The theme has been determined in align with the Global Goal – SDG. Bangladesh has also chalk-out various programs underlining the theme.

Tourism is an industry that mostly depends on nature and environment. It also causes directly and indirectly damage to the environment. Tourism cannot survive when the natural balance is disturbed. Tourism itself is a victim and vector of environmental changes. Should we recklessly build five-star hotels in deep forests, build hotels on the beach hiding the hills, build beautiful buildings by piercing into the rare corals; of course, nature takes its revenge dangerously. At present day, we become dependent on plastic in every aspect of life and throw it everywhere unscrupulously. If we pollute the environment, nature will pay us pollution in return. Once there was a storm in Dhaka city. People witnessed thousands of colourful polybags were flying and landing like kites in the sky. I have travelled many times through the launches at Mawa-Keorakandi ferry before the construction of the Padma Bridge. Every time I went, I saw hundreds of pet bottles floating in the river. People used to board the launch with pet bottles and threw those into the river. Now it has reduced after the Padma Bridge construction.

To cater to the increasing demand of tourists or to attract tourists, various accommodations, restaurants, gaming zones, entertainment centres etc. are established. These accommodations, restaurants and tourism centres produce tons of waste. Hotels apply different cleaning agents to cleanliness, crockery and cutleries. Hotels owners must think where the poisonous liquids go after its uses. Tourists also have to be frugal of water and electricity consumption. Green investment in tourism requires for its sustainable development. Therefore, more plantation and gardening should be made rather than felling trees. Without cutting the hill, hotels and motels can be built on each ridge of hills. Even if the cost increases a little to do so, the environment will, at least, be protected. We can call it an environmentally friendly investment.

We must develop the tourism industry in Bangladesh as it is a labour intensive industry. It is currently the fastest growing single largest industry in the world. Various groups of people, skilled, low-skilled and unskilled – can be employed in this industry. People of all ages and all classes can also earn their livelihood by engaging themselves in this industry. Educated unemployed youth can find employment here. Women empowerment can be made through developing tourism industry. To keep tourism industry alive, we need to pay proper attention to nature and environment. We must study nature and ecology prior to establishment of any tourism infrastructure. Environment-friendly infrastructure should be built at the tourism destinations following the recommendation of feasibility studies.

In order to protect both nature and tourism, various concepts and practices are already being implemented all over the world such as ecotourism, responsible tourism, sustainable tourism and community tourism etc. In order to achieve SDGs by 2030, we need to develop a sustainable tourism industry. And environment-friendly investment should be made for the development of sustainable tourism industry. To achieve the tourism related targets of SDG-8, 12 and 14, appropriate policy-programs should be adopted and implemented. In the light of SDG targets, local tourism attractions should be preserved, promoted and developed along with the construction of tourism infrastructure. To achieve Smart Bangladesh we need to give proper importance to the development of smart tourism through the use of technology. But the use of that technology must be environment-friendly. If the invention of technology and the use of technology are not environment-friendly or, it is not beneficial to people, and people lose jobs, we cannot call it smart tourism. Eco-friendly technology should be implemented everywhere to meet the needs of people as well as protect the environment. We all know that there will be no tourism without good environment. We can also aver there would not take place any sustainable tourism industry without environment-friendly technology.

The government has given due importance to the development of the tourism industry, whose reflection is evident in the 8th Five Year Plan, Perspective Plan and Delta Plan-2100. The budget allocation for the development of the tourism industry has also increased. Environmental clearance is required for the development of sustainable tourism industry. A five-star hotel requires environmental clearance from DoE and it must install ETP. We must follow Government Tourism Policy-2010, Hotel and Restaurant Act-2014 and Rules-2016 and Amended Rules-2019, Bangladesh Tourism Protected Areas and Special Tourist Zones Act-2010 and Rules-2011 and 2014 to develop the tourism industry in Bangladesh. We need to attract long-term local and foreign investment to tourism industry of Bangladesh for its sustainable growth. Investment hoping for immediate returns can never be environment-friendly. Investment for constructing hotels, motels and resorts in forests, mountains or filling rivers will be dangerous for the environment. We should remember three pre-conditions for eco-friendly investment in tourism development: (a) protection of environment, (b) socio-economic development and (3) benefit of local people. Without addressing these three conditions, sustainable tourism development will never take place. The uses of technology should be of environment-friendly, labour intensive and benefiting local people to develop a sustainable tourism industry.


The writer is a tourism expert