Community in Focus: Centre for Responsible Tourism
Find out how the Centre for Responsible Tourism is bringing people together to achieve its goal of promoting responsible and sustainable tourism.
“Shorter working hours are becoming the general rule everywhere and provide greater opportunities for large numbers of people. This leisure time must be properly employed to refresh the spirit and improve the health of mind and body […] by means of travel to broaden and enrich people’s minds by learning from others.” This observation made at the Second Vatican Council got the Archdiocese of Goa to think about setting up a responsible tourism centre. The idea was to ensure that the state’s tourism industry not only provides economic and material enrichment, but also provides spiritual actualisation.
Set up in 2007 under the Archdiocese’s charitable wing – Caritas- the Centre for Responsible Tourism (CRT) decided that their focus should be to make tourism an enriching experience. The aim is to create ethical foundations directed at protecting the civil liberties of host communities, workers, women, and children while also turning profit for the community.
The CRT does work under four broad categories: Environment, People’s Enterprises, Women and Children, and Alternative Tourism. Fr. Freddy Braganza, who is in charge of CRT, says that they identify issues that affect the local populace and, in turn, affect tourism.
After categorising various tourism sectors to better organise the local travel industry, the CRT has managed to form The Federation of Associations of Tourist Taxi Owners and Drivers, the Shack Owners’ Welfare Society, and the Federation of Small and Medium Guest Houses. These groups were so formed due to their heavy inclusion of local manpower that is directly involved in the tourism sector.
CRT takes initiatives to drive discussions with these groups, talk about their problems, highlight the great work they do, and also acts as mediator between these groups and the local Government. Fr. Freddy gives us an example, “Before, the government used to send notices to shacks and guest houses regarding illegalities without establishing whether owners understand the processes. We intervened and helped locals acquire correct documentation and legalise their businesses with the help of the government.”
The CRT wants the people involved in tourism to be responsible members of the industry. “We teach shack owners garbage segregation. With the lifeguards, we recently hosted a workshop where we gave them a deeper understanding of women and children’s safety. We also teach taxi drivers how to be courteous to the passengers, etc.”
Fr. Freddy knows that there’s a lot of work to be done and he is keen to implement a tourism model that focuses heavily on showcasing local identity markers. “We’re looking to have a meeting soon with shack owners as there’s no local food being served at the shacks anymore. We’ll lose out on showing that aspect of our culture to tourists.” He says culture and identity play a vital role in tourism and CRT’s agenda is to facilitate understanding of that. The CRT have recently adopted a few villages both in the north and south of Goa, and started organising unique heritage tours. They train local villagers to be guides and take groups of tourists around the village, highlighting different aspects of the culture like food, music, and the arts.
“We serve the guests food prepared at the home of a local. We give them seasonal fruit and juices. We introduce them to local craftsmanship and the different items that the villagers produce. We want people to benefit from tourism. If these tours do well, local communities will reap the benefits.”
The CRT is not oblivious of the issues that plague Goa’s tourism and Fr. Freddy is looking to tackle them in all earnestness. “We are constantly working with the government and other stakeholders to draw out plans and guidelines for industry professionals to follow. We know that taxis not having standardised fare meters is an issue and we’re looking at the best way to solve it. People must understand that we’re here to help them and promote tourism in the long run, and if they don’t agree with our proposed policies then they are welcome to present their own.”
To battle improper garbage and sewage treatment along the coastal belt, the CRT plans to start Tourism Monitoring Groups wherein they empower locals to keep track of businesses or individuals flouting the guidelines and Fr. Freddy feels that will go a long way in helping address these issues.
The CRT also funds and sponsors various studies that affect tourism, including the effects of sewage on the environment and a study on the quality of water along the coastal belt. Fr. Freddy says they are open to and looking to work with like-minded groups so they can promote sustainable and responsible tourism.
To get in touch with CRT you can email email@example.com