27 Apr 2014
Governance Challenges in Linking Environmental Sustainability to Tourism: Where is the Houseboat Industry in Kerala, India Headed?
NCCR Trade Regulation Working Paper 2013/09 by Corinne Karlaganis and N.C. Narayanan
The focus of this paper is on governance, in particular on the linkage between investment in tourism and the environment in Vembanad Lake, an official site of the International Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Tourism in houseboats and in resorts around the lake has grown remarkably in the past two decades. The aim of this case study is to examine the environmental regulations and challenges of implementation with a focus on houseboat tourism in Vembanad Lake. The empirical investigations are conducted in two destinations located in different parts of the lake. Data from the Kerala State Pollution Control Board show that the lake is under severe environmental stress due to biological (sewage), chemical (pesticides) and physical (plastic) pollutants. The methodology involves analysis of secondary environmental data and semi-structured interviews with various stakeholders. The problem of environmental degradation due to tourism is linked to boat owners’ desire for short-term profit maximisation even though most of them are aware that the sustainability of the industry is linked to the environmental quality of the lake. Another problem is the lack of infrastructure.