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Role of Panchayat in Sustainable Tourism:Insights from Goa
Tourism industry is gaining a prominent role in socio-economic development of the regions, especially in developing countries. Today more and more countries are envisaging sustainable tourism. The pertinent question is how to promote tourism and ensure at the same time that it is a vehicle for growth and development, which is sustainable. In view of the fact that tourism is an economic activity which is deeply linked to a particular territory and to local variables, central governments may not always be able to manage the complexities of this industry and its impact on the economic and social environment. On the flip side, local governments can play an important role in tourism, as they seem to be in a better position to cope with issues related to the tourism industry. Could the Panchayats shoulder greater responsibility in this endeavour and play a proactive role in attaining the goal of sustainable tourism? The paper attempts to look into this possibility with a case study of Goa. The study is based on data collected through interviewing various stakeholders; the business community, the local residents, the elected leaders at the Panchayat level, Government officials, NGO members, tourists visiting the State, etc. Gram Sabha minutes of various Panchayats are reviewed to strengthen the present findings. The study reassures the fact that Panchayat, as a grassroots institution, can play a proactive role to ensure sustainable tourism in the state. Every Panchayat has to carry out dual function in this regards, the police function and that of a facilitator. It has the primary role of ensuring that the environment for both locals and the tourists is clean, safe, healthy, accessible and stimulating. It should mobilize the social, financial and natural capital of a place towards sustainable tourism which will benefit the local community.
Sustainable, Tourism, Local Government, Panchayat, Goa.
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