Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Tourism, when managed in the absence of well thought-out plans and programmes, may spell doom to natural habitats. Apart from this, the cultural shock imparted the tourism on the local communities may put their very survival in danger. Though awareness campaigns and stipulation of certain standards among stakeholders such as tour operators and travel agents may help in reducing this impact, it cannot be completely averted. This is because the primary motives of all commercial endeavours are more profit and more business. It is in this context that ecotourism is considered as a solution for tourism related environmental problems. Ecotourism primarily means marketing the serene natural habitats as tourism 'product' with an inherent element of nature education. It is aimed at making the visitor aware of the protective, productive and regulatory functions of the forests

"It is a purposeful travel to natural areas to understand the cultural and natural history of environment, taking care not to alter the integrity of the ecosystem, while producing economic opportunities that make conservation of natural resources beneficial to local people. Within international tourism, it is a fast growing segment ". 

For ecotourism to be sustainable, it has to be small scale in terms of tourist numbers, physical infrastructure and facilities. Ecotourism is not a product for mass market as it appeals to a narrowly defined market of specialized nature interest groups. In short, the search for balance between visitor enjoyment and conservation needs, characterises the whole concept and in Kerala, ecotourism has been misunderstood or not properly understood by many. Tour operator companies and tourism project developers may jump on the ecotourism bandwagon and project an environmentally conscientious image as a part of their business marketing strategy. Thus ecotourism can be misinterpreted and exploited to justify the tourism development in pristine areas, which may be sacrificed to maximise tourist numbers and profits. As the number of tourists increase ecotourism becomes mass tourism and generates similar infrastructural demands and proportionate impact on environment as conventional tourism. This necessitates the need for defining the ecotourism properly to convey the message to all. At present, there is no institutionalised system/channel through which public can see the forest and have a quality and lasting experience. The quick visit to a sanctuary as being practised now cannot be called ecotourism. It is only mass tourism. What is needed is a more focused strategy, which is supply driven and small group oriented.

For ecotourism to be truly a form of environmentally conscious tourism and not just pursuit of remote pristine locations, it has to be sustainable with the continuous capacity to:

- safeguard natural environment, the very basis of tourist attraction.

- provide and maintain the quality of tourist experience and satisfaction, and

- benefit the local people in the area.

Any tourism programme that is:

  • nature based ,
  • ecologically sustainable,
  • where education and interpretation are major components and
  • where local people are benefited,

can be called ecotourism
If it does not satisfy any one of these components then it cannot be called a real ecotourism venture.


The Western Ghats of Kerala with its tropical forest ecosystem provides a natural advantage for the development of this segment of tourism.In order to facilitate the fast growth of tourism sector in Kerala, we have to diversify our tourism products. The Western Ghats region of Kerala can be projected as an Ecotourism Zone in true sense. Eco tourism projects the concept of sustainability in tourism. That is, the needs of today’s visitor should not be met at the expense of future generations. Such an ecotourism project based on internationally accepted principles, will help infuse the sustainability concept to other tourism ventures outside the realm of ecotourism.

Rationally in the sense that we have a rational plan that fits into the ethics of Eco tourism, we are outfitter that can deliver promises to tourists and help the people who live in the area that we are visiting and can understand the dilemmas that different cultures face in their day to day survival.
Eco tourism is being entertained by many communities and governments as a reasonable and rational way for economic development and preserving their particular bit for the environment. If the idea of Ecotourism is well planned then it can work beatifically if not , then disastrous results to both the environment and people occur.

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