Chennai: Ahead of World Tourism Day (27 September), leading travel and tourism associations of India have come together to appeal to the government to strengthen the packaging waste collection and recycling ecosystem; echoing cleanliness to play a vital role to attract regional and international tourists to Indian tourist destinations.
The tourism industry will play a pivotal role in getting the economy back on track, once India starts recovering from the pandemic. In 2019, travel and tourism industry contributed 9.3 per cent to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and account for approximately 8.1% of the total employment opportunities.
The strengthening of waste collection system and educating common citizens about the importance of responsible disposal of various types of plastics will ensure less wastelitteredat the tourist hotspots and other Indian cities. Currently, plastics like multilayered packaging (Chips/biscuits) and tetra packs rarely get collected due to their low value in the recycling ecosystem, other plastics like PET/HDPE bottles are the most recycled globally and fetch Rs 25-30 per kg for ragpickers.
A month ago, the Indian government released the Swaccha Survekshan(Cleanliness Survey), in which many tourist hotspots like Amritsar, Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Srinagar, Varanasi, Shillong, etc. received a poor rating. Also, almost half of the world’s 50 most polluted cities are in India. It projects a negative imageof India/Indian destinations globally and adversely impacts tourism, they said and added that the current pandemic is anopportunity to rethink the roadmap to build a clean, safe, and environment-friendly tourism ecosystem.
Pronab Sarkar, president, Indian Association of Tour Operators, which is the national apex body of tour operators said, “Tourism sector is the key for the revival of Indian economy and cleanliness will play a pivotal role in the post-COVID era to attract tourists.”