UN goals must not upset regional development, say tourism stakeholders

UN Sustainable Development Goals could result in checking overall economic development of any region, they feel

Though the renewed stress on eco-tourism is a good thing that would help tourists back after two years of Covid-19 lull, the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals are seen as a hassle that would result in checking overall economic development of any region. This was the general mood of speakers who expressed their opinion at the recently concluded Kerala Travel Mart, the country’s largest tourism conclave.

They also opined that the catchwords and packages on travel should appeal more to the tech-savvy young generation whose behavioural pattern is comparatively less emotional.

Call for altered marketing strategy

Pointing out that the initial trends in post-pandemic travel call for an altered marketing strategy, they said that the tourism products themselves have to match the perception about destinations. Stating that the constant refrain on ecological conservation would sound “empty rhetoric” if they are not matched with green initiatives, former bureaucrat K Jayakumar, speaking at KTM, said that the need is to go for a holistic upgradation in the quality of experience that is served to visitors, and not go for islands of tourism excellence. The pandemic has made sanitation of destinations and safety of visitors vital like never before,” he pointed out.

Jayakumar said the tourism industry must expect lower tolerance from the new generation, whose travel plans are guided by technologies based on artificial intelligence and algorithms. So phrases that caught public fancy two decades ago may not work now, he said.

Phased implementation of UN SDGs needed

Suman Billa, Principal Secretary (Industries – NORKA), called upon the administration to go for phased implementation of the UN’s SDGs, lest they torpedo the manufacturing sector. Never forget the domestic traveller, he said, adding that tourists from India spend $23 billion a year over trips to foreign countries. Authorities can initiate ways to ensure that a chunk of this money is channelled towards developing tourism products within India, especially Kerala.

If Covid-19 quickened the use of new technologies in tourism sector, the novel products should be of appeal to youngsters, who are more into experiential travel, said Billa who was Director, Technical Operations and Silk Road Development at with UNWTO. The channels of publicity are spreading through social media, smart destinations should flourish in a stronger way, he added.

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