Sustainability, Accreditations, Ecotourism and SDGs – the GSTC way, in India

A research paper on Ecotourism in India, by Freeda Maria Swarna (member of GSTC India Working Group), Shaheed Khan, R. Kannan and S. Praveen Kumar. Published in International Advanced Research Journal in Science, Engineering and Technology.

The research study undertaken is a work in progress, which will enable the reader, academia and practitioner to understand at what stage we are in India in regards to assessments, accreditations and certification. The role played by the Government machinery which owns the base product of Ecotourism in India, the forests and the private and Global players. The Ecotourism canvas of India is still foraying into the assessment, accreditation and certification domain and a world leader like Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has an important role to play. The concentration of the current agencies who are focusing only on the environmental aspect; whilst the certification to the GSTC Criteria mechanisms is focusing on social-economic, cultural and environmental.

GSTC’s influence on Ecotourism in India

With a global footprint and an experience that would mean wonders for Indian Ecotourism, GSTC was a sure revelation for India. With a multitude of Ecotourism products and destinations, India needs a robust accreditation, assessment and certification system that will create a better environment for the already existing Sustainable Ecotourism Model. With the Forest Department across the country making an all-out effort to manage the forests through various conservation and preservation methods, GSTC would be a boon to the Ecotourism products spread across the country.

Karthik Davey, a promoter of an Ecotourism Destination called Dholes Den, near the Bandipur Tiger Reserve (BTR), simply mentioned, “the adoption of TOFTigers certification (a GSTC-Recognized Standard) is his biggest advantage.” He added that “travellers with a bent of sustainability are coming as repeat guests to the resort.” Dholes Den as a property is 95% energy efficient with alternative energy-saving measures in place. Karthik says, “Sustainability is something that we believe should be a lifestyle not an act for a purpose.” Dhole’s Den through its biodigester generates bio-gas, which meets 5% of the cooking fuel requirement, which means a beginning has been done. Sustainable tourism promoters like Karthik will ensure a purposeful accreditation, assessment and certification framework which will do well for the tourism system in the long run.

GSTC’s perspective on Ecotourism in India

What does GSTC bring into the Ecotourism scenario of India? According to Randy Durband, CEO of GSTC, a robust system would not only be appreciated by the stakeholders, but would help them to scale to better standards and evolve. By providing eco-labelling with the highest level of assurance, with third party certification at the highest level of assurance and the required standards, which would ensure the scrutiny of media, government, consumer watchdogs and others for it is based on a systematic, logical and transparent system.

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Sustainability, Accreditations, Ecotourism and SDGs – the GSTC way, in India (full article in pdf)
Citation: Swarna, F. M., Khan, S., Kannan, R., & Kumar, S. P. (2021). Sustainability, Accreditations, Ecotourism and SDGs – the GSTC way, in India. International Advanced Research Journal in Science, Engineering and Technology, 8(8), 535–550.
Source type: Academic Journal
Themes: General, Criteria