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How To Start a Sustainable Tourism Business in India


What is Sustainable Tourism

The Tourism Industry is one of the largest and most rapidly expanding sectors globally, thus playing a significant role in the destination country's economy. It creates jobs is a key contributor to a country's GDP growth and provides a major source of foreign currency. However, it's not only about enjoying the advantages of a specific sector; upon closer inspection, the other side of the coin may show a darker aspect of it. Often overlooked, the negative impacts and consequences of an industry must be considered alongside its successes. The Tourism Industry is subject to the same situation. While we celebrate the growth of forex reserves, we often overlook the effects of mass tourism on our environment and society. Whether you're in the tourism sector or just a traveller, learning about and adhering to sustainable tourism practices is important.

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Sustainable Tourism

Before we start talking about sustainable tourism practices, let's first comprehend the definition of sustainable tourism. The World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as considering its economic, social, and environmental impacts now and in the future while meeting the needs of visitors, industry, environment, and host communities.

In other words, it involves taking a comprehensive and well-rounded approach in the worldwide tourism sector to reduce negative impacts on the environment and society while enhancing its positive aspects. Some examples of sustainable tourism practices include reducing waste, reusing and recycling resources, utilizing energy-efficient lighting, conserving water, and more. The purpose of this idea is to minimize the negative effects of tourism on the environment and society as a whole. Its primary focus is on ensuring long-term sustainability to safeguard the needs of future generations.

Types of Sustainable Tourism

Over time, environmental activists have coined different phrases to raise awareness about the importance of implementing sustainable practices, even when traveling. Numerous ideas and expressions have been created to establish a specialized area within the expansive tourism sector. 'The concept of 'Sustainable Tourism' covers a wide range of narrower concepts, including the following:'

  • Eco-Tourism

Sustainable travel focuses on experiencing nature and promoting conservation.

In the 1980s, the term 'Eco-tourism' gained popularity, often mistaken for Sustainable Tourism. It's important to note that Sustainable Tourism encompasses economic, social, and environmental sustainability for long-term viability in the tourism sector. On the other hand, eco-tourism is a term that specifically centers on nature-based experiences and environmental conservation.

  • Cultural Tourism

Ethno Tourism, also known as Rural Tourism, is centered on rural areas and lifestyle. Travelers are interested in exploring ethnic communities, their cultures, and practices. It is popular in Asian countries such as India, Japan, and China. While it provides income for rural communities, an increase in travelers can disrupt rural life and deplete resources. Therefore, it is necessary to include ethno-tourism in the realm of sustainable tourism too.

  • Tourism within the local community

Community Tourism is a form of sustainable tourism that allows individuals to immerse themselves in ethnic communities, experiencing their food, culture, and customs firsthand for a unique and unforgettable experience. Unlike the previous two types of sustainable tourism, this particular category aims to support and assist communities instead of solely concentrating on the environmental aspects of tourism.

  • Sustainable tourism, focusing on environmental conservation and eco-friendly practices

Green tourism, which emerged in the 1980s, is a term that falls within the realm of sustainable tourism. The initial aim was to create economic benefits and reduce environmental harm by using eco-friendly practices like using green products and reusing supplies. However, the concept failed because the hotel industry began misusing it through "greenwashing," where they falsely claimed to promote green tourism without actually implementing any green practices.

Why is it Necessary to Implement Sustainable Tourism Practices?

After talking about sustainable tourism, let's briefly consider why it is important to implement sustainable tourism practices. Tourism is a thriving global sector with the power to greatly influence the countries it visits, but if not managed properly, it can also bring about numerous adverse effects. Therefore, it is crucial to tackle these difficulties, and sustainable tourism practices have become a key principle to address these issues. Several strong arguments highlight the importance of implementing sustainable tourism practices.

  • Worries about the environment: Tourists and travellers prefer to discover regions that are near natural surroundings, which are often areas with fragile ecosystems. Moreover, the presence of numerous tourists often results in increased gas emissions, waste littering, and resource depletion, among various other impacts. Therefore, it is necessary to reduce the impact of tourism on these delicate ecosystems by implementing methods to lessen the carbon footprint of the tourism sector to protect the beauty of our ecosystems and tackle environmental pollution simultaneously.
  • To benefit the local economy: As previously mentioned, tourism plays a major role in the host country's economy, leading to job creation and income generation. By adopting sustainable tourism practices, we can ensure the enduring sustainability of our natural and cultural resources, leading to long-lasting economic viability. It also aids in fairly distributing these economic advantages among the local communities and, consequently, assisting in alleviating poverty.
  • Reducing Negative Socio-Economic Effects: While economic tourism can benefit an economy, it also has hidden negative impacts. The benefits are distributed unevenly, with the least developed countries unable to fully benefit from them. Therefore, it is necessary to adopt sustainable tourism initiatives to enhance the well-being of indigenous and local populations in developing and underdeveloped countries.
  • Preservation of Cultural Heritage: Tourism plays a significant role in promoting cultural exchange and blending, enhancing understanding between different cultures. Yet, when tourism is unsustainable, it can endanger the authenticity of cultures by ignoring the importance of heritage and relying on stereotypes. This insufficient integration of cultures can lead to negative social, political, and economic consequences.

What is The Significance of Sustainable Tourism Practices?

The UN and the World Tourism Organisation have repeatedly emphasized the importance of implementing sustainable practices within the tourism industry. The UN designated 2017 as the "International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development." The UN's Sustainable Development Goals Report outlines goals to create and enforce sustainable tourism policies by 2030, aiming to generate employment opportunities and support local culture and products. When viewed through an Indian lens, the importance of sustainable tourism practices is heightened due to the significant impact on the country's GDP, forex reserves, and the job market. In addition to this, there are numerous other advantages of adopting sustainable tourism practices, including:

  • Conservation of the environment

The main emphasis of sustainable tourism practices is on protecting and conserving the natural environment and ecosystems. This involves conserving natural resources, minimizing waste, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, preventing resource depletion, and encouraging the adoption of renewable energy sources.

  • Impact on the economy

The financial aspect of sustainable tourism focuses on how the tourism industry contributes to the economy of a country. By advocating for ethical practices, tourism can be beneficial for assisting economically disadvantaged nations to prosper. These measures can also aid in promoting local arts and crafts industries.

  • Advantages for businesses to be competitive

In addition to the environmental, social, and cultural advantages, becoming certified and labelled as a sustainable tourism company gives you a competitive edge in the market by signalling to conscious customers that you prioritize these values and are working to minimize negative impacts while maximizing the benefits of sustainable tourism.

Certification for Sustainable Tourism for Companies and Businesses

The STCI is a crucial component of the National Strategy for Sustainable Tourism, introduced in April 2022 in India. It is a certification that evaluates and authorizes all tourism activities in India based on international standards for sustainable tourism. It serves as a roadmap for tourism service providers to promote sustainable tourism and ensure compliance with it in the country.

Advantages of STCI Certification

STCI Certification allows service providers in the tourism sector to evaluate their impact on the environment and society through self-assessment and monitoring. This provides them with a chance to establish sustainable tourism management systems, which in turn helps support the nation's sustainable development goals. This certification is currently available for lodging establishments (11 categories), travel agencies (3 categories), and tourist destinations. The tourism service provider has the option to request a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Certificate.

The following are some of the key advantages of acquiring the STCl Certification.

  • It gives recognition at a national level to providers of sustainable tourism services.
  • Securing this certification gives you an extra edge in the tourism sector, enhancing your competitiveness. Establish your business as eco-friendly.
  • This certificate recognizes and confirms your environmentally friendly practices, setting you apart from service providers that falsely claim to be sustainable.
  • It also raises awareness among both residents and visitors about sustainable tourism practices and educates the public on its potential impacts.
  • It enhances the quality of service your business provides and also contributes to elevating the industry standards as a whole.

What is The Process for Obtaining STCl Certification?

Below is a detailed outline for you to acquire STCI Certification:

  • Just visit the Nidhi Portal, which stands for the National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry, sign up for your establishment, and get a Nidhi ID that is one-of-a-kind.
  • Afterward, you must submit your application for the certification, which entails providing all requested details and necessary paperwork.
  • After you have submitted your application successfully, it will go through a Desktop Assessment.
  • Following this, a group of qualified field officers will schedule a visit to your facility for an On-Site Assessment to determine your eligibility and compare your unit to the category you have applied for.
  • Once you meet the requirements, you will receive the sustainability tourism certificate.


Implementing sustainable tourism practices is not just a moral responsibility to encourage tourists to engage in environmentally-friendly behaviour, but also a strategic decision for businesses. Due to the rise of environmental law worldwide, there is a growing global awareness of the environment, leading more individuals to opt for eco-friendly and sustainable choices. Hence, through the encouragement and implementation of sustainable tourism practices, Indian businesses can draw in a greater number of eco-friendly tourists while also improving their image, leading to a competitive edge. Obtaining licensing and certification for your business unit offers numerous benefits, as previously mentioned. If you remain unsure and require expert advice, you can seek guidance from a professional.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not corpseed, and have not been evaluated by corpseed for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.


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