TODAY -

India and eco-tourism

By Sayantini Ghosh *



Probably the millionth time, but it rings true – India is one of the most diverse and vibrant countries of the world. The multi faceted Indian terrain has everything going for it. People from around the world have come to this country to witness and experience its culture and traditions, its festivals and religion, the spirituality and grandeur. In the last decade or so India has shocked the world with its economic progress and its long term plans. Many industries flourish in India out of which tourism is of great importance.

The topographical diversity explains the rise of tourism. People from around the worl visit India and its natural reserves, the mountains and plains. The more the human interference, more is the balance of nature disrupted. To curb this over exposure of nature, a new branch of tourism came into existence called Eco-tourism.

Eco tourism

Several definitions pertain to the concept of eco tourism. A few have been mentioned here “Fundamentally, eco-tourism means making as little environmental impact as possible and helping to sustain the indigenous populace, thereby encouraging the preservation of wildlife and habitats when visiting a place. This is responsible form of tourism and tourism development, which encourages going back to natural products in every aspect of life. It is also the key to sustainable ecological development.”

The International Eco-tourism Society is of opinion that eco-tourism is "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." If that is true then everyone taking part in promoting Eco tourism should also follow certain principles :

  • Show respect to and spread cultural and environmental awareness.
  • Minimize the impact of human intervention.
  • Make sure the travellers and tourists leave a place with positive experiences.
  • Empower local people by helping them earn their livelihood.
  • Spread awareness regarding country’s social climate and its environment.
  • Explore within the confines of international human rights and labour agreements
Going by the definition we can say that the Green Laws have to a very large extent helped people take an active part in conserving the environment and in turn benefitting the social and economical aspects of tourism.

Eco-tourism in India

The eco tourism fever has caught up in India recently but it has picked up pace very quickly. India specifically was in dire need of this sort of tourism owing to the number of tourists it has started attracting from the world over. When so many tourists visit nature rich destination, they are bound to be polluted. And when the influx of humans is rapid, the environmental conditions do deteriorate. To bring back the balance, it is very important to spread awareness which can be done easily through program like eco tourism.

Hence the country has tried leveraging its natural assets like the Himalayas in the north and east, the wildlife spread all across the nations, the rich green of down south and a massive forest cover.

Forms of Ecotourism in India

Like tourism, eco-tourism is diverse too. Each of them lures global tourists annually. Amongst the most popular ones are Wildlife tourism, Agro tourism, Religious tourism and Village tourism. Out of these, wildlife tourism has become a rage with visitors across the nations. As mentioned earlier, Indian terrain is vividly different. The kind of flora and fauna along with national park and tiger reserves like Corbett, Ranthambore, Kanha, Kaziranga and Sunderbans make eco tourism very effective. Besides Wildlife, agro tourism is also picking up pace as more and more tourists get attracted to the rural parts of India and they throng the villages to get up close to encounter traditional and typical life.

These forms have helped eco tourism gain momentum in India. But a lot of the rustic India still remains to be discovered and it won’t be wrong to believe that in the coming years India will be able to reap its benefits.

Some places like Himalayas, Kerala, north-east India, Andaman and Lakshwadeep islands are great places for tourists to indulge in activities related to eco tourism. The Indian government does take up tasks to keep the eco tourism projects running. Currently the government has been able to protect merely 4% of the forest cover by preserving National parks, tiger reserves. These places do face problems like poaching which the government has not been able to curb totally. In the 445 odd sanctuaries and more than 75 national parks conscious efforts are being made to plant trees. To promote tree plantation, Vana Mahotsav has been celebrated all over the nation.

Down south, in Kerala, there is a place called Thenmala which is supposedly a good eco tourism destination. It has been a well preserved destination that people from the world across can come and enjoy pure and raw nature.

The ministry of Tourism has declared a massive investment of US 1.1 million dollars to construct luxurious resorts in Andaman and Nicobar islands. The islands of Lakshwadeep have been recognized and several projects to promote the place as eco tourism spot has been planned.

Future of Eco tourism

In India eco tourism only can go uphill. Stats suggest that each year the revenue grow by 7.7%. In past there already have been many a successful attempts in promoting eco tourism. Even now the future of eco tourism is bright as famous projects like Jim Corbett National Park, Ranthambore, Gir Lion Park, houseboat cruises in Kerala etc that were started a few years back are running successfully.

If you look at these places closely you realise that eco tourism already existed in the minds of people even before the concept was devised. However the term eco tourism is western which sort of provides a fancy packaging to an already existing service.

About the company - Thrillophilia is an adventure tourism company which has been instrumental in promoting eco tourism. Through its various tours and packages, Thrillophilia takes its visitors as close to nature but without any harmful intervention.

Whether you like the Himalayas or the lush green of Kerala, whether it is the caves of Meghalaya or the tiger reserves all across the nations, Thrillophilia can help you decide the itinerary. It will educate you about different ways you can be active eco tourists. For any inquiries please contact Thrillophilia at info@thrillophilia.com


* Sayantini Ghosh, a Travel Writer for Thrillophilia Adventure Tours Pvt. Ltd. contributes for the first time to e-pao.net . The writer can be reached at sayantini(at)thrillophilia(dot)com
This article was webcasted on May 29, 2010.



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