Water Heritage - Steering Innovation with a Difference By Sachin Bansal

PUBLISHED July 12, 2020 | updated April 02, 2021 23:45

Water has no other substitute, which can sustain life and growth. Our planet is the driving force for all living ones. Water has driven major innovations and it is time to realize the power of water in heritage and tourism. This is followed by concentration towards sustainable development mandating minimizing the environmental impacts, while keeping spirited performance for the survival of the human race. The science of anticipating the future is more like an art where relevance is brought through exposition of intellect congregated on innovation be it in product, process, or services. 

The human farsightedness is to accept deeply water as part of heritage that has to be consumed, utilized consciously with an attempt to save for future generations. The authentic or commodified present becomes past every second, tagged with positive or negative impacts on the environment. The concept of ‘water heritage®’ partially comes from community-based advocacy efforts and religious beliefs. The social roles and consumption styles have reflected climatic changes, decayed environment and have adversely impacted the water tables. No innovation can happen without water and all major experiences are stimulated only with water. Water cannot be traced back to history, it is one of the sole reasons why life sustains on this planet. Water yet again becomes an important component for exploration by humans. The algorithmic ways of measurements too fail in providing fresh water in some parts of the planet and fades the human body from earth because of barely accessible supplies. Human race has been gambling with the unpredictable world disasters by accelerating the consumption of visionary companies who like to steer innovation and gain control over the world. 

Tourism brought awareness and with attentiveness came acquisitions of land. The urbanism in acreage justified population explosion, which led to creation of facilities for regeneration. The land story was forgotten with time and brought forward the legacy of few chosen ones. The opportunism for creating wealth made human discover places with an intent to monetize available resources without realizing protective motives of retaining ‘place sense™’ understanding of past generations. The future development and expansion never got aligned with scale of preservation index, which could have become single most important goal for strengthening community awareness on a priority basis. There are several stories, which are passed over from one generation to another related to water. These stories have played an important role to carry traditions and rituals shouldering legacy of awareness and education for living a practical life. The more memorable learning dissemination, the greater applicability for future water management solutions.

The tourism businesses in the past never considered the sustainable management of water-based ecosystem and respectful use. While we speak extensively on conservation, preservation of water through mediums that are known to human race, a vital part of this movement can be steered via tourism. Never has anyone vehemently spiked a thought around the fact that how tourism and water could be co-related. Not just from the genre of adventure sport, water sport or beaches and resort with swimming pools or consumption of water for the upkeep of monuments, hotels, spaces of tourist interaction but also from an aspect of awareness. When we speak of water heritage® it implies both directly and indirectly to the mindset of a traveller/tourist. The fact that a remarkable form of awareness is required on water, it can surely be done through the medium of tourism. Just like life on earth, the tourism and hospitality industry are immensely dependent on water as an attraction and also as sustenance. Countries like Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh rely heavily on water as a resource for economic growth. Countries like India, Nepal and Bhutan have mixed dependencies on water as an attraction as far as tourism is spoken about.

The civilizations across the globe, be it the Hopi’s, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, the Inuit’s, Maori’s – have all had rituals surrounding water. Ancestral worship or a form of appeasing the weather gods – water has been a vital part of ritualistic activities. Be it life on earth or keeping the faith in rituals – water has a way around it. When people started travelling, the stories of water travelled with them too. Some holy water, some magical potion, some healing qualities or some mysterious stories under the water body has always made the traveller intrigued about it. If we were to instil an angle of awareness to this story, then we are sure that water preservation and conservation efforts could have a leap of success. 

The destinations became happy with rising economic valuation while demand of water & clean air never quenched. The quality of worldly living conditions failed in managing community perspectives and kept on maximizing without bringing the change towards shared assets of our planet. As mentioned by Mahatma MK Gandhi - “The earth, the air, the land, and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but on loan from our children. So, we have to handover to them at least as it was handed over to us.” 

As a part of everyday life, water is consumed from different sources. Nations across the globe are trying to ensure best practices to make clean water available for drinking. Closely related to sanitation, our water resources need to be fit for drinking. Hygiene practices, sanitation and treating water before drinking are indispensable for millions of lives who do not have access to the basics. Our concept is to relate of the above mentioned to yet another vital component ‘travelling’ – any form of travel – be it for work, research, leisure & holiday, etc. can be a huge source of awareness generation and mass mobilization tool to bring sustenance and shared responsibility. When each individual, who is travelling to a destination, takes along not just information about the place but also knows the way to contribute, that will gradually start making a difference. The awareness on do-s and don’t-s of any destination surrounding water/sanitation/hygiene is a must now. It is time for each individual to take the responsibility which can be done when it is combined with something that one enjoys, when this responsibility is not seen as a burden – when this is combined with travel and tourism.

Water Heritage® as a mission enabled by City Explorers® a private limited company in India has unique concepts to bring the desired results in awareness generation and on-ground implementation. The destination management strategies through political exchange became prime in seeding the idea of utilizing place assets, while businesses got employed in the search for their fresher purposes. The industrialization with sub-sectors could not conserve earth ecosystems and humans failed miserably in maintaining quality of natural environments deteriorated through increased footprints. The health and safety suffered because of contamination and misuse of water resources. The philanthropists and large corporations' impact got varied on-ground instead of bringing one collective goal to manage water which is towards extinction. Innovations were accepted for as an immediate glory, which perturbed the other parts of world to innovate further and more innovation more consumption with unmanageable on-site behaviour.

The discovery of human past and related breakthroughs have been linked with water throughout history. It is very important to get educated on water and earthy natural resources while accommodating innovation in different domains of human welfare and in life of locals and tourists. The water scarcity cannot be eliminated but underutilization can too bring a sense of balance for water-poor areas. Water has stories which can be treated as sensory and participatory heritage of the world. The concept of ‘virtual water’, ‘embedded water’ and ‘water footprint’ are based on modern day consumption patterns. 

Water has been an agent of change and is central to a more dynamic evolution of mankind. Learning from the past has not made any impact in changing the way forward. But with this year of humankind lockdown, it is time to reflect back strongly on all possibilities of sustainable and responsible tourism where ‘water’ becomes an agent of revival. Through tourism and digitalization, water knowledge can be disseminated through agile and responsive practices using sustainable methods. Water is scarce and it is time to further develop understanding in the younger generation and travellers. 

At City Explorers®, a private limited company in India, the endeavour is to bring a significant essence to the traveller journey and maintain a sustainable ecosystem in the tourism sector. The team is of the view that legacy is passed on from one generation to another, heritage stays on, complementing each. For this to be a successful mission we ensure training and skill development programs at different levels of the industry. From tourism to hospitality, across age groups, diverse nationalities, we encourage people to join us in these training programs. 

Human race and heritage appreciation require water as a sustainable force. Water Heritage® as a concept delves into the correlation of all genres of tourism and consumption of water surrounding the same. Under this each individual, community, society, and country could chart out their own best practices in the field of tourism and hospitality to ensure water is preserved and conserved. Promoting water and community related programs in the vision of City Explorers® and its primary flagship brands India City Walks™, India with Locals™, India Heritage Walks® and people designated as Monument Friends®, Heritage Heroes™, City Champion™ to carry the social impact activities. All our flagships, under City Explorers®, mentioned here have primary program detail surrounding water, for example – India City Walks™ takes pan-India collaborations and associations under heritage, tradition, culture, to spearhead policy changes under water/hygiene/ sanitation in the country. India with Locals™ ensures local awareness transmission on sanitation, hygiene and water. The idea here is to take our local workforce into all awareness programs. India Heritage Walks® takes into consideration all water related projects which comes under the heritage purview. Similarly, our Monument Friends®, Heritage Heroes™ and City Champions™ are the village, district, city and state level stakeholders of water and sanitation awareness campaigns, they are on-ground enablers and active members of any outreach on water. The flagships have clear mandates which work seamlessly on nature, water and environment. The organization’s mission has been ‘Water Heritage®’ as a collective initiative which will bridge the understanding of India’s heritage identity deeply rooted to the citizen’s access to water. The initiative reflects on water as both a complex and long-term value to society where sustainability can be achieved with easy interpretation and appropriate use of citizen awareness storytelling sessions in the present times.

It is time to adopt the “water allocation” mindset for consumption and development, prioritizing controllable discipline to optimise human led growth opportunities for tangible and intangible earth resources. 

About the author – Dr. Sachin Bansal, is the Founder and Chief Explorer of ‘City Explorers Private Limited, India’ and with two decades of experience, he has multiple flagships functional in the arena of community impact and destination product creation within the tourism industry. As a destination branding specialist, he has coined the conceptual acronyms and led the co-creation through ‘Experiential Delivery in Tourism (EDiT)’ and ‘Resonating Experiential Delivery Outcome (REDO)’. For IP related enquiry or for more information can reach Dr. Sachin Bansal on help@cityexplorers.in



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