Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Eco-tourism at incredible india wildlife-tourism sector, border of kerala and tamilnadu

Eco tourism 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 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 number of definitions are available for ecotourism, each focusing on a different aspect. An analysis of the developments in this sphere over a period of past one and a half decade helps to discern certain important parameters emerged in common to all eco tourism developmental initiatives. 

This understanding leads to conceptualise ecotourism as: 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.

WHY WE NEED IT ?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.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.PRESENT SCENARIO The major tourism destinations are broadly classified into beaches, backwaters, hill stations, wild life sanctuaries and culture including festivals. The major thrust is to upgrade the quality of these products and to provide basic infrastructural facilities. 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 sanctuary, as being practiced now cannot be called ecotourism. It is only mass tourism into a sanctuary. What is needed is a more focused strategy which is supply driven and small group oriented.Tourism, which is an ecologically sensitive area, needs close and careful monitoring. Tourism in these nature based areas should be ecologically sustainable. 
There should also be provision for learning process for a visitor. The economic benefit of such an activity should accrue to local population to ensure sustainability.Strength1. Kerala has 12 Wild life Sanctuaries and 2 National parks. 2. It is rich in biological diversity.3. 
The water bodies formed within the forest areas due to construction of dams/hydel projects provide scope for recreational facilities.4. Scope for mountaineering, trekking., bird watching etc.5. Locational advantages due to well developed road network up to the forest area.6. Availability of trained forest staff in wildlife, ecology etc.7. Well-informed public and conservation groups who are always watchful of the adverse impacts of eco tourism initiatives

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