OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN MAJULI- A SWOT ANALYSIS

Porag Pachoni
Research Scholar (M.Phil), Commerce Department, Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal Pradesh. Arunachal, India

Abstract
Being a picturesque place in the heartland of Assam, Majuli bears a tremendous prospect for development of sustainable tourism in Assam. The river valley Majuli has a distinct socio-cultural heritage and natural characteristics that have been attracting ample number of tourists every year from across the world. The spiritual Vaishnavite sattriya culture, Mishing community culture, serene natural beauty, river island, mask making, pottery craft etc. stands as strengths and opportunities for development of spiritual tourism, religious tourism, cultural tourism, eco-tourism and craft tourism in this river island. These tourism avenues create an ample scope for boosting entrepreneurship, employment generation, livelihood development and other socio-economic transitions in Majuli. The weakness and threat caused by successive years of flood and erosion and subsequently shrinking down of island space is also an issue for sustainable tourism. Therefore, proactive measures for promotion and development of tourism is the need of hour in coming days. Thus, this study has highlighted the scope for sustainable tourism in Majuli and made an analysis through four parameters strength, weakness, opportunity and threat.

Keywords: Majuli, Sustainable tourism, SWOT analysis

1.   Introduction
          
Tourism is increasingly regarded as one of the means of development in a region, since it is an important growth sector in a country's economy. However much empirical evidence has also shown negative effects of tourism, in particular on the environment. Question arise as to whether it is possible to keep on developing tourism in a certain area without negative or irreversible influences on the environment. A new concept that has begun to dominate the tourism debate in recent years is that of sustainable development. The idea of sustainable tourism development is now a popular concept and refers to allow tourism growth while at the same time preventing degradation of environment, as this may have importance consequences for future quality of life (Nijkamp et al., 1995). Sustainable tourism can be defined as "Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities". The World Tourism Organization (a branch of United Nation, 2004) defined it as “Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building. Achieving sustainable tourism is a continuous process and it requires constant monitoring of impacts, introducing the necessary preventive and/or corrective measures whenever necessary. Sustainable tourism should also maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction and ensure a meaningful experience to the tourists, raising their awareness about sustainability issues and promoting sustainable tourism practices amongst them". Sustainable tourism development guidelines and management practices are applicable to all forms of tourism in all types of destinations, including mass tourism and the various niche tourism segments. Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability.

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