Now-a-days, Tourism has become an integral part of India of modern life. During the last three to four decades, tourism has transformed the way, the world looks and works.
As environmental protection and tourism are closely interlinked with each other, so tourism has to be a sustainable industry.
Fundamentally, Eco-tourism means making as little environmental impacts as possible and helping to sustain the indigenous populace, thereby encouraging the preservation of Wildlife and habitats when visiting a place.
Responsible eco-tourism programmes include those that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local people.
Definition Of Eco-Tourism:
World Tourism Organisation (WTO) has defined ” Eco-Tourism as, tourism that involves travelling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with specified object of studying, admiring and enjoying the scenery and it’s wild plants and animals as well as any existing cultural aspects both of the past and the present ” .
Principles Of Eco-Tourism:
Eco-Tourism is about uniting conservation , communities and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement, participate in and market Eco-Tourism activities should about the following eco_Tourism principles:
- Minimize physical, Social, Behavioural and psychological impacts.
- Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
- Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
- Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
- Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
- Deliver memorable Interpretive experiences to visitors that help to raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.
- Design , construct and operate low-impact facilities.
- Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous people in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.
Characteristics Of Eco-Tourism:
Most tourism in natural areas today is not Eco-Tourism and is not, therefore, sustainable. Eco-Tourism is distinguished by its emphasis on conservation, education, traveller responsibility and active community participation.
Specifically, eco-Tourism possesses the following characteristics:
- Conscientious, low-impact of visitor behaviour.
- Sensitivity towards and appreciation of local cultures and biodiversity.
- Support for local conservation efforts.
- Sustainable benefits to local communities.
- Local Participation in decision-making.
Eco-Tourism In India:
India, the land of varied geography offers several tourist destinations that not just de-stress but also rejuvenate you. There are several ways to enjoy Mother Nature in most pristine way.
Eco-Tourism has been broadly defined as tourism which is ecologically sustainable. The concept of ecological sustainability subsumes the environmental carrying capacity of a given area. The general principle of Eco-Tourism guiding the initiatives of the Ministry is as under:
- The local community should be involved leading to the overall economic development of the area.
- The likely conflicts between resource use for Eco-Tourism and the livelihood of local inhabitants should be identified and attempts made to minimize it.
- It should be planned as a part of the overall area development strategy, guided by an integrated land-use plan avoiding inter-sectoral conflicts and ensuring sectoral integration, associated with commensurate expansion of public services.
Thenmala Eco-Tourism project was the first planned Eco-Tourism project in India, in the state of Kerala, launched on 1st of July, 1998. It is strictly based on the principles of Eco-Tourism.
The Vaishno Devi Shrine, Amarnath Yatra, Shiv khori and Virgin Vallies like Bangus Valley, Gurez Valley, Suru Valley in J&K State is examples of such places, where Eco-Tourism can help preserve the biodiversity.
Advantages Of Eco-Tourism.
- Environmental Conservation-A sustainable Choice : The entire concept behind ecological tourism is for people to visit exotic landscapes and aid the protection and conservation of nature hence Eco-Tourism offers an incentive for local people to help preserve and protect their environment and wildlife as it can provide them with a ‘Sustainable’ income from tourism.
- Benefits to local small Business and people : With the industry of tourism, comes an increase in the demand for local jobs and hence correspondingly an increase in employment for locals that are often provided through merchandise retailers, restaurants, tour guides, hotels etc.
- A cultural Education : Although most of the debates on the pros and cons of Eco-Tourism lies around the environmental and economical aspects, it is also important to consider the cultural and social impacts also.
Disadvantages Of Eco-Tourism.
- low Paid Locals : In some circumstances when Eco-Tourism is severely mismanaged, local people do not always benefit economically Or socially .
- Threats to Indigenous people: Eco-Tourism often claims that it preserves and ” enhances” Local cultures. But the fact is that the indigenous people have become ‘tourist attractions only’ who pose for the cameras and perform dances.
- Wildlife Disturbance: Even with the promotion of Eco-Tourism and Environmental friendliness it is still inevitable on some levels that ‘tourism’ will cause a negative impact on wildlife through consumer pressures.
Whatever you see, whatever you have and whatever you know are gifts of Nature. The pathless woods, the meandering river’s, the stubborn Rocky outgrowths called mountains, the expanse of the oceans, the lonely beach, the hell-fire volcanoes , everything are gifts of Nature.
All natural phenomena serves a definite purpose for shaping the landforms of our planet. Our feeling of joy, beauty, wonder, hope, love, thrill, faith, belief- are all gifts of Nature; even consciousness. Nature has given everything necessary for the existence of life. She thought that we might be a way for the universe to know herself.
Now it either it stays that way or maybe, we humans, one day can become history. The future resides on us, how we act and what we do at this very hour. Life has a meaning so instead of mocking it we must try to protect it and the Natural Order. Nature has given us the greatest gift in the universe i.e life; a chance to be with her creation and explore her wilderness. Life itself is the greatest gift and we must honour it. It’s not a duty it’s a commitment.