Relationship Between Sustainable Tourism Indicators and the Operational Challenges of the Tourism Business: Empirical Evidence from the Wildlife Resorts of Karnataka, India

Relationship Between Sustainable Tourism Indicators and the Operational Challenges of the Tourism Business: Empirical Evidence from the Wildlife Resorts of Karnataka, India

Nagarjuna G., Joby Thomas
DOI: 10.4018/ijsesd.314627
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Wildlife resorts are one of the most prominent and attractive segments of the accommodation sector. They face many socio-economic and environmental challenges to implement sustainable tourism practices in their daily operations. This study aims at investigating whether there is any relationship between socio-economic and environmental issues, and challenges faced by wildlife resorts in implementing sustainable tourism practices, and the indicators used by the resorts to measure their sustainable tourism practices. The study employs triangulation design to conduct the research. Survey method was employed for identifying the sustainable tourism indicators and personal interviews with resort managers were conducted to identify the operational issues and challenges of wildlife resorts for the implementation of sustainable practices. Based on purposive sampling, sixteen wildlife resorts from the Indian state of Karnataka are selected for the study. Dedoose software is used to conduct mixed method analysis, to compare and analyse the data obtained from both qualitative and quantitative methods.
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The Indian state of Karnataka is known for tourist attractions ranging from forts, architectural forms, cultural heritage, and religious sites to coastal landscape, wildlife and national parks (Karnataka Tourism, 2015). In the year 2018 Karnataka had 214.3 million domestic and 5 million foreign tourist’s arrivals. It also shares the top 5 positions out of 36 states and union territories in terms of attracting domestic tourists (Ministry of Tourism, 2019). This region is blessed with natural attractions such as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations and pristine beaches. In addition to this, the state is a home for world heritage sites like Hampi, Pattadakal and is known for its diverse culture, history, and antiquity (Karnataka Tourism).

Wildlife Resorts in Karnataka

Karnataka has 5 national parks and 21 Wildlife sanctuaries. In the year 2004, Government of Karnataka introduced wilderness tourism policy for national parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests and other forests of Karnataka. The objectives of wilderness tourism policy of the state are: conservation of forest and wildlife by permitting wilderness tourism in specified areas of national parks, sanctuaries and forests; facilitating nature friendly activities in terms of trekking, safari, nature walk, bird watching; and creating facilities such as nature camps and forest rest houses. The policy also aimed at restricting the number of tourists to be permitted inside the national parks and sanctuaries. The policy also stated that, wilderness tourism operators should operate through Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd (JLR) and Youth Hostels Association of India. Initially private resorts were not allowed to operate within the national parks, wildlife sanctuaries or their enclosures (Karnataka Tourism, 2009), Later, the state of Karnataka has encouraged resort tourism in a big way and has attracted the private entrepreneurs to get involved. This has led to the growth of various resorts, both in public and private sectors (Thomas, 2014). There are many public and private wildlife resorts offering a wide variety of services in terms of accommodation and nature related activities in the vicinity of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries (Karnataka Tourism, 2015). These resorts have to implement sustainable tourism practices to preserve and conserve the natural resources and wildlife of the area where they function. Sustainable tourism indicators may provide directions to wildlife resorts for implementing sustainable tourism business practices and to overcome the issues and challenges while implementing it.

Triple line bottom approach of sustainable tourism helps in addressing the negative consequences of tourism development (Dwyer, 2015). Since sustainability plays an important role in creating quality tourism products that avoid harming natural and cultural environments, various systems of indicators have emerged to measure the sustainable tourism practices of tourism business (Vukadin et al., 2020). In the year 2010 the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, organized a national workshop on sustainable tourism criteria for India. Based on this workshop, the Government of India defined sustainable tourism criteria and indicators for the accommodation sector (Ministry of Tourism, 2014). Though various indicators available based on three pillars of sustainability i.e., economic, socio-cultural, and environmental (Brščić et al., 2020), it is also essential in understanding whether these indicators help in addressing the issues and challenges of sustainable tourism practices of wildlife resorts.

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