Friday, September 24, 2021

India: The new eco-tourism hub

Eco-tourism has been identified as one of the niche tourism areas for development in the country by the Ministry of Tourism. The Ministry has recognised sustainable tourism as having an enormous potential of fulfilling the SDGs set by India. For this, the Ministry developed a Draft National Strategy and roadmap for sustainable tourism, with an emphasis on eco-tourism.

Key Highlights:

-Eco Circuit and Wildlife Circuit are among the 15 thematic circuits identified for development under the Swadesh Darshan concept.

-Ministry of Tourism has developed a Draft National Strategy and roadmap for sustainable tourism with a focus on ecotourism.

Eco-tourism policy:

The Environment Ministry earlier established an Eco-tourism policy that aims to give livelihood opportunities for local communities, as well as educate visitors and enhance their awareness of nature, as part of the government’s commitment to execute people-centric programmes.

Specialized training on eco-tourism activities is being given to local communities in an effort to improve their capabilities. Local residents can be recruited as nature and tourist guides, as well as nature science interpreters and patrol partners to protect the environment. The policy aims to promote homestead-based hospitality companies for the purpose of boosting local livelihoods, which includes small-scale entrepreneurs and operators such as souvenir stores and rental of photography equipments.

About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

To enable the tourism sector to realise its potential, the scheme intends to synergize with other schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill India, Make in India, etc. with the goal of positioning the tourism sector as a major engine for job creation, and a driving force for economic growth.

Under the Swadesh Darshan plan, the Ministry of Tourism is establishing theme-based tourism circuits across the country. The Eco Circuit and the Wildlife Circuit are two of the fifteen thematic circuits that have been identified for development as part of the scheme. The scheme aims to create jobs by engaging local communities in active participation and fostering community-based development.

The Swadesh Darshan Scheme requires state governments and union territories (UT) administrations to submit project proposals in a continuous process. The scheme’s development projects are identified in conjunction with state governments/UT administrations and are sanctioned subject to funds availability, the filing of appropriate detailed project reports, and adherence to the scheme’s guidelines. G. Kishan Reddy, Minister of Tourism, provided this information in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

What is Niche tourism?

Niche Tourism indulges not only one tourism type, rather it is an umbrella term used to group various types of tourism.

Tourism Ministry has identified 9 types of Tourism for promotion and development:

Eco & wildlife tourism, sustainable tourism, meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism, cruise tourism, polo tourism, golf tourism, medical tourism, and wellness tourism.

What is Eco-Tourism?

Eco-tourism is defined as responsible travel to natural areas that protect the environment while also improving the well-being of local people. Forests and wildlife are natural features that are inextricably linked to the ecosystem. Because the relationship between nature and humans is complex, nature conservation must include the participation of people as a non-negotiable component.

Forest dwellers who live away from the forests, as well as forest fringe residents, are encouraged to participate actively in the policy. The eco-tourism policy was developed in collaboration with a number of key partners.

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