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Eco-tourism: The future of tourism

Eco-tourism is a fairly new approach in tourism. Eco-tourism is travel to natural areas to appreciate the cultural and natural history of the environment, taking care not to disturb the integrity of the eco-system, while creating economic opportunities. This makes the conservation and protection of natural resources advantageous to the local people.

The increasing knowledge of the fragility of the environment, better informed managers, and the recognition that there is a close relationship between good ecology and good economy has made eco-tourism the buzzword of the 21 st century.

In essence, eco-tourism means making as ineffectual environmental jolt as possible and helping in the conservation of wildlife and habitats when sojourning a site. This is an ideal form of tourism that encourages going back to natural wealth in every aspect of life.

This means that those who implement and participate in eco-tourism activities should focus on:

  • Giving visitors the opportunity to personally and directly experience nature.
  • Providing opportunities to visitors to experience nature in ways that lead to greater understanding, appreciation and enjoyment.
  • Representing best practices for environmentally sustainable tourism.
  • Contributing directly to the conservation of natural areas.
  • Providing contributions to the local community for ongoing activities.
  • Becoming sensitive to interpret and involve the culture/s existing in the area.
  • Consistently meeting consumer expectations.

Eco-tourism in India

In India this movement is gathering momentum with more and more travel and tourism related organisations addressing the needs of the eco-tourists and promoting eco-tourism in the country. And why not! After all India is a country that offers full scope for eco-tourism. One can get enchanted by the rich diversity of the flora and fauna of India and, at the same time, feast on the fruits and vegetables that have been grown in the organic farms without the use of any chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Eco-tourism sights in India
India is a land of varied geography. It offers several tourist destinations that not just de-stress you but also rejuvenate you. There are several ways to enjoy Mother Nature in its most pristine form. The few places like the Himalayan Region, Kerala, the Northeast India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Lakshwadeep islands are some of the places where you can enjoy the treasured wealth of the Mother Nature. Thenmala in Kerala is the first planned eco-tourism destination in India created to cater to the eco-tourists and nature lovers.

Indian topography possesses an abundant variety of flora and fauna. India has numerous rare and endangered species in its surroundings. The declaration of several wildlife areas and national parks has encouraged the growth of the wildlife resource, which had reduced dramatically in the past. Today, India has many wildlife sanctuaries and protection laws. Currently, there are about 80 national parks and 441 sanctuaries in India, which work for the protection and conservation of wildlife resource in India.

There are numerous botanical and zoological gardens in India, which are working towards the enhancement of the eco-system. Poaching has stopped to a large extent. There are severe punishments in place for poachers, hunters and illegal traders of animals and trees. Tree plantation is taking place in several places. There are several animal and plant rights organisation that fight for the rights of the animals and plants. Numerous organisations and NGOs are coming forward to provide environmental education to the common people at the grass root level.

Scope of eco-tourism
The need to consider environmental and cultural issues in the travel and tourism industry and not simply its economic returns is growing by the day. There is a growing recognition that those who profit from tourism are not always those who have to bear its costs. Governments, industry and academia are undertaking research and implementing actions to minimise the impacts of the ever-increasing travel industry on the natural, human and built environment and to develop sustainable tourism practices. Hence, eco-tourism is now a sector with a huge scope.

Academic degree/Training
Eco-tourism is clearly a niche or specialist area of the wider tourism market. Hence, a separate degree in eco-tourism is far and between but, at the same time, it must be said that it is now an indispensable sub-topic of tourism studies. Therefore, those with a keen interest on taking up a degree in eco-tourism have to do with a degree in tourism studies, which are available in plenty.

For Comments: psjamwal@amity.edu

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