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Views & Reviews

Hornbill festival and tourism industry

By EMN Updated: Nov 28, 2015 10:17 pm

Tourism industry is spiraling and has gained a greater voguewith all its zeal and valor. It is estimated that morethan five million tourists, excluding domestic tourists, arrive in India alone, annually. Alongside oil, arms, pharmaceuticals and auto-industry, it is one of the largest industries in the world, and it is growing rapidly in a massive scale. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) projects 1.5 billion arrivals of tourists by 2020. A rough estimate puts 1,005 tourist arrivals in 2010. Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) share is 5.89 trillion which is higher than GDP of the most rich countries. Excluding unaccounted laborers, tourism absorbs about 300 million people. To intensify tourism industry Governments have relaxed tax on air fuel and the budget airlines are growing. With the introduction of cheap flights, tourism industry will continue to grow all over the world.The policy makers see tourism development as solution to poverty alleviation. The income generated from tourism is perceived as a panacea for the problems of the poor countries. This perception is based on an assumed understanding that the profits from tourism industry will trickle down and benefit the poor communities.Under the slogans, “Incredible India”, “Look East” “God’s own Country”, “Bali of South Asia” (Sri Lanka, etc), “Hornbill Festival” (Nagaland) tourism industry has intensified, promising peace and prosperity. It is applauded as “motor for development.” Many people are fooled to believe that it is an engine of investment, employment, growth, and national development and considered as one of the best industries for the third world countries to earn foreign currencies in terms of Dollar and Euro. As a result of this myth, the economic and business planners are diverting the resources to expand airports, local transportation facilities and other infra-structures at the expense of the poor. Tourism! at whose cost? This myth should be challenged.
Tourism is a human’s self seeking satisfaction or pleasure driven enterprise by objectifying others as commodity or means of one’s satisfaction. Study shows that majority of the tourists are military personals and industrial workers. A research conducted on Israeli tourist behavior and patterns in Goa has revealed that the Government of Israel provides travel package incentive to all the soldiers after the completion of compulsory military service as incentive. The intention is to release stress and appease the soldiers after stressful work and training.Similarly, industrial workers are given travel package bonus by the companies to release their accumulated feelings of oppression in alienating and health hazard working conditions. Tour packages are consciously organized by the ruling and owning class to avoid unrest, protest and rebellion. Tourists who travel under these circumstances arrive at the destinations merely for enjoyment, relaxation and pleasure. They objectify everything as commodity for enjoyment and pleasure. Consequently, women are reduced to flesh market, nature is reduced to mere scenic object, beaches are reduced to mere sun-bath, culture is reduced to performance, etc. Commercial tourism being driven by profit, pleasure and enjoyments puts immense pressure on environment, women, children and indigenous people. Exploitation is rampant and beyond measurable. Among the many dimensions of modern mass tourism, the Shillong Declaration identified the following disadvantage of mass tourism: (1) The diversion of essential people’s resources such as land, water, electricity and other infrastructure to entertain tourists and support hotels, resorts, golf courses, amusement parks and so on; (2) The social costs through the abuse of women and children, and their trafficking; (3) The costs entailed in the commercialization, commodification, and denigration of indigenous and local culture, and the resultant threat to cultural identity; (4) The loss of revenue to host countries and communities as a result of the financial advantages gained by foreign and domestic business interests through tax concessions and holidays, subsidized land and other costs, import advantages, reduced wages and working conditions; (5) The social and economic impact of displacement of people and communities caused by tourism development; (6) Ecological imbalance and loss incurred in developing countries in the course of sustaining inappropriate tourism enterprises; (7) The climate change implications through air travel; (8) The cost to host communities through health hazards, arising from tourist activity involving HIV and AIDS, drugs and narcotics, among others; (9) The human rights violations that occur in the name of tourism.
The sanctity of worship places, sacred groves and shrines are violated, and sacred music and dances turned into cabaret performances for enjoyment. The development of ecotourism is causing wide scale eviction of indigenous people from their ancestral lands leading to breakdown of traditional values and environmental degradation. The continuity of indigenous people’s spirituality, cultural and traditional ways of life is at risk. In summary, commercial tourism’s sole objectives are mere profit, pleasure and enjoyment. It does not respect life, culture and environment. It denies right to live in dignity especially to the poor and marginalized people, and sees environment merely from utilitarian perspective denying the integrity and its wholeness. It breeds injustice and thus contradicts the testimonies of the Bible. It is thus an ethical, theological and missiological concern. To challenge and critique the present paradigm of tourism and search for an alternative tourism becomes a theological and ethical imperative.
Wati Longchar

By EMN Updated: Nov 28, 2015 10:17:13 pm