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Regenerative Travel: Respecting Nature, Culture And Communities

It is a holistic approach with the environment and the people partaking in regeneration. Tourism is a dynamic sector, it appreciates diversity. We ought to make it inclusive and sustainable and for that regenerative is the way forward.

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People have started traveling extensively for a variety of reasons and in today’s time, learning from experiences with enhanced transformation. Tourism is one industry that appreciates everything, which is worthy, precious and is an inheritance of the past. It includes magnificent landscapes, wildlife, history, culture, and people. The ‘At Dawn At Dusk’ moments in quaint locations or appreciating one’s own region with ‘My Neighbourhood My Heritage’ themes can very well be the length and breadth of tourism offerings. In recent times, it has been globally acknowledged that contributions by tourism industry are impeccable and that tourism can singlehandedly initiate a change, in concert with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In the wake of the pandemic and its aftermath, as travellers and industry partners, one needs to concentrate on not just ‘sustainable tourism’ but with widened benefits through ‘regenerative travel’. Experiencing destinations with ‘socially conscious’ mind will be a requisite for attracting travellers and the hosting communities in their full glory. 

UNWTO, addresses, “Sustainable Tourism, as one that establishes a suitable balance between the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, playing an important role in conserving biodiversity.” The visible attempt is to generate wealth while providing employment to locals in the ecosystem. In a diverse land like India, to be able to manifest sustainable tourism and ensure tourism as a driver of community growth, ‘Pure Experiences’ through ‘Slow Journeys’ need to be introduced. This shall enhance and complement the destinations’ offerings, irrespective of the geography and the people. 

However, a direct-action plan can be seen through ‘regenerative travel’ as a concept with assets being utilised based on preservation. The new traveller is well-aware ensuring that tourism practices are sustained in a controlled way. The competitiveness can be brought by strengthening intellectual properties contributing towards business development. If we were to go by the theoretical definition, then regenerative means, “the act of something growing or being grown again.” Instead of exploiting and depleting, we need to fertilise that area so it can regenerate and grow even stronger in the future. This regeneration could be in terms of soil, environment, community benefit, preservation and conservation too, but one needs to take one step at a time. The intent solely remains to practice regional discovery on the philosophy of ‘Leave No Footprints by City Explorers’ alongside, replenish the lost grounds. 

The post covid-19 travel purpose or intent is more inclusive, optimistic and experiential while ensuring that the impact of tourism on the environment is at a minimum.  While India remains largely untapped with rural resources, the experiences through ‘India Rural Walks’ can be a timely intervention to extend the benefits of tourism. It is a rising necessity that the public private sector stakeholders are held accountable and emphasised to promote recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for the local communities. The cycle of sustainability and regeneration can be achieved with multiple and continued steps on skilling, awareness generation, employment generation, conservation, upkeep, preservation and much more. Initiatives like ‘Swachh Walks’ and ‘Water Heritage’ could be introduced with a three-tier plan with school students, young adults and professionals. 

Regenerative Travel and Slow Tourism is being hyped globally as the brighter, greener, positively impacting form of tourism that will surely build a better and stronger tourism ground than the solely profiteering industry model of the tourism. Regenerative tourism aims to restore deficiencies that our system has underdone. Referring to the global statistics, tourism usually contributes 10% global GDP with employment. The Covid-19 pandemic followed by global shutdown would have impacted over 120 million jobs costing nearly $3.4 trillion in costs. Regenerative tourism is not anti-growth; it simply asks that we grow?  In a way it can be said that sustainable tourism and regenerative travel go hand in hand. We must understand that sustainability of a destination thrives on 3 things – the host community, the traveller or the tourist and the agent. Creative experiences like ‘Walk With Tribe’ and ‘Bond With Nature’ must be nurtured, building on sustainability. 

Tourism has multiple facets aiding in sustainable and inclusive growth. It addresses an inclusive change for all to benefit. Tourism also brings diverse employment opportunities, it brings forth different kinds of job opportunities which probably were not known to many – for example guides, language experts, interpreters, the experience creators, the experience delivery individuals and much more. Tourism brings vast regions under its influence, which then benefits the urban, regional, and rural economies irrespective of the geographical locations or the divide, the benefits of tourism can be experienced through urban, rural and other regional economies. 

As a by-product of tourism, it offers explicit opportunities for innovative small-scale business operations. This gives an opportunity to multiple small scale business operations which are dependent on the tourist influx and tourist product demand. Tourism brings support for infrastructure-related development and maintenance. Until and unless these structures or monuments or heritage hubs are protected and preserved, we would not be able to celebrate our cultural diversity and tourism with it. While these bring a sustainable future ahead, it is time to take a step further for tourism opportunities to be able to return to the environment, the society and the people through developing a cultural and heritage tourism products in a meaningful way.

‘Regenerative Travel’ takes the leap of faith assuring that we can still make it right, make it grow and make it available for the generations to come. It is a holistic approach with the environment and the people partaking in regeneration. Tourism is a dynamic sector, it appreciates diversity. We ought to make it inclusive and sustainable and for that regenerative is the way forward.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Dr Sachin Bansal

The author is the Founder and Chief Explorer® of ‘City Explorers Private Limited, India’ and with two decades of experience, he has multiple flagships functional in the arena of community impact and destination product creation within tourism industry. As a destination branding specialist, he has coined the conceptual acronyms and led the co-creation through ‘Experiential Delivery in Tourism (EDiT)™’ and ‘Resonating Experiential Delivery Outcome (REDO)™’. For IP related enquiry or for more information can reach Dr. Sachin Bansal on [email protected]

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