Saturday - Sep 23, 2017

Growing importance of social tourism

Growing importance of social tourism

The diversification of the tourism industry today has led to new forms of tourism, such as eco-toursim and the relatively new field of social tourism. What is social tourism? According to the Manila Declaration signed by the World Tourism Organization, the mission and objectives of social tourism are to make tourism accessible to the majority, including people of all age groups, providing economic opportunities in the process. It does not see tourism solely as a money-making enterprise or a pleasurable trip for the rich, but as a holistic way to develop a country’s economy and benefit the local population. It was born out of a need to reconcile the growing income gap between the rich and poor, and also provide opportunities for ‘tourism for all’.

In line with social tourism’s goal to provide travel opportunities to more people and to benefit the community, the social categories involved in social tourism range from the very young to the elderly, from the poor to the rich. This sort of tourism is seen as an important contribution to regional development which encourages the flow of resources from rich to poor countries. It is also a great way to increase the standard of living, and to provide a better quality of life to people from middle class backgrounds.

One of the important tenets of social tourism is sustainability. Sustainable tourism aims to provide fresh resources to stagnant regions and protect the environment while developing tourism. Basic infrastructure such as accommodation, campgrounds, holiday vollages, and so on, are developed through this process. Granting tourism access to people with reduced mobility (PMR) becomes possible when these infrastructures are in place. This is in line with the goal of social tourism to prioritize the assistance of people across different social groups to go on holidays and vacations. Social tourism is also designed such that it should not lead to the local population’s exploitation or destruction of local culture through unethical commercialization.

France is one of the leaders in the field of social tourism. Pioneered by the National Open-Air Tourism Union (UNAT) consisting of a group of 58 non-profit tourism organizations in France, the country boasts a capacity of 242,000 beds, a large number of which are located in holiday villages. This allows quality tourism to be provided to as many people as possible at affordable prices.

India is another great destination for social tourism. Blessed with an abundance of exotic cultures and natural beauty such as the Himalayas, India holds a special attraction. As the seventh largest country in the world and a fast developing economy, any social, cultural, and sporting activities promoted in India will go a long way in stimulating the country’s growth. Social tourism is also seen as a solution to the abject poverty experienced by the 200 million Indians living below the poverty level as it will have the potential to create employment opportunities.

Social tourism is growing in importance today because tourism has become recognized as a fundamental right for all, not just for the rich and wealthy. Many local NGOs especially in rural communities are developing alternatives to typical tourist attractions and activities. Hopefully, this will continue to create an increased interest in local cultures and heritage, and promote an appreciation and respect for other lands as individuals broaden their travel opportunities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.