What is Ecotourism? What are the guiding principles and purpose of ecotourism? Ecotourism, a fusion of “ecology” and “tourism,” represents a sustainable approach to travel that prioritizes environmental conservation, community engagement, and cultural appreciation. Read here to learn more,
A team of educationists and government officials visited the Dongrim-Mandur area to explore the possibility of developing a pilot eco-tourism project.
Do you think ecotourism should be promoted in India? Learn its role in the sustainable development of the state.
Also, read about the Buddhist tourism circuit.
What is Ecotourism?
Ecotourism is an entirely new approach to tourism. It is the preservation of trips to natural areas to appreciate the natural and cultural history of the area while taking care not to disturb the ecosystem’s integrity. This will generate economic opportunities that benefit the local population by promoting the conservation and protection of natural resources.
It is also defined as, tourism that includes exploring natural areas such as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and biosphere reserves to take in the scenic beauty of a wide variety of flora and animals.
According to experts, the promotion of ecotourism is essential to spreading a better understanding of nature and bolstering conservation efforts. It significantly contributes to the empowerment of local communities by giving them alternate means of support.
Purpose of Ecotourism
- Educate the traveller.
- Raise public awareness of the need to protect forests.
- To provide funds for ecological conservation.
- Aid and prosper neighborhood communities and raise their standard of existence.
- To foster respect for different cultures and human rights.
Guiding Principles for Ecotourism
- Environmental Conservation:
- Ecotourism places a paramount emphasis on preserving natural habitats, biodiversity, and ecosystems.
- Responsible tour operators and travelers aim to leave minimal environmental impact during their visits.
- Community Involvement:
- Local communities are integral to ecotourism initiatives, benefiting economically and socially from tourism activities.
- Empowering communities to participate in decision-making fosters a sense of ownership and ensures the long-term success of ecotourism projects.
- Cultural Sensitivity:
- Ecotourism emphasizes the importance of respecting and preserving local cultures and traditions.
- Tourists are encouraged to engage in cultural exchange while minimizing any negative impact on indigenous communities.
- Education and Interpretation:
- Ecotourism seeks to educate visitors about the natural and cultural significance of the destinations they visit.
- Interpretation centers, guided tours, and informational materials contribute to raising awareness and fostering a deeper understanding of the environment.
- Sustainable Practices:
- Sustainable tourism practices, such as energy conservation, waste reduction, and responsible water usage, are core tenets of ecotourism.
- Accommodations and facilities are designed to operate in harmony with the environment.
The positive impact of Eco-tourism
- An opportunity to preserve ecosystems and biological diversity.
- It is environment-friendly.
- It generates public interest in and awareness of India’s native flora and fauna. It serves as a platform to inform and support conservation activities.
- Increases the revenue derived from tourism: It boosts economic development in areas surrounding reserves through sustainable development.
- Creation of employment opportunities for the locals: In a rural area, it might generate employment. By imparting to the visitor their knowledge of the local geography and environment, it gives the locals a chance to escape poverty.
- Preservation of local culture: neighborhood residents to participate in conserving and defending their local area.
- Ecotourism-related businesses can improve the long-term economic prospects of a town.
- Protected areas and nature conservation provide many benefits to society.
Ecotourism in India
- India, a country with a diverse landscape, has several tourist attractions that can both relieve tension and revitalize you.
- There are several ways to enjoy Mother Nature in the most pristine way.
- A selected few locations, like the Himalayan region, Kerala, Northeast India, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and the Lakshadweep Islands, allow you to take advantage of Mother Nature’s priceless bounty. The first planned ecotourism destination in India was Thenmala, which was established to serve eco-tourists and lovers of the outdoors.
- The geography of India is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. India’s surroundings are home to a large number of rare and endangered species.
- The expansion of the wildlife resource, which was once constrained by the hunting of many kings, has been aided by the creation of numerous wildlife areas and national parks.
- Community-led eco-tourism initiatives have been launched in several Indian states and union territories, including Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Kerala, Sikkim, and West Bengal.
- Several communities in Ladakh have started homestay programs for hikers and other tourists, with money raised going toward village development and conservation.
- The Maharana Kumbha Common Interest Group established the “Green Village Project” in Khonoma village, close to Kohima, which includes nine BPL communities. The young people received visitor management training. The camp includes hiking, folk dances, camel and horseback riding, and more.
Challenges associated with Ecotourism
- Balancing Conservation and Visitor Numbers:
- Striking a balance between allowing access for visitors and protecting delicate ecosystems can be challenging.
- Overcrowding can lead to environmental degradation and disrupt the very ecosystems ecotourism aims to preserve.
- Some businesses may falsely label their operations as ecotourism to attract environmentally conscious consumers.
- Proper certification and transparent communication are crucial to combat greenwashing.
- Infrastructure Development:
- Developing infrastructure to support ecotourism without negatively impacting the environment poses a challenge.
- Roads, accommodations, and facilities must be designed and constructed with sustainability in mind.
- Cultural and Social Impact:
- Unmanaged tourism can lead to cultural commodification and a loss of authenticity in local traditions.
- Balancing cultural preservation with tourism demands requires thoughtful planning.
- Climate Change:
- Climate change poses a threat to many ecotourism destinations, impacting ecosystems and wildlife.
- Adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change is a growing concern for the sustainability of ecotourism.
India, a country with diverse terrain, offers many tourist destinations that not only help people unwind but also revitalize them. There are numerous methods to take in Mother Nature in the purest form.
There are only a few sites where you may appreciate the priceless bounty of Mother Nature, like the Himalayan region, Kerala, North-East India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Lakshadweep Islands.
Also read: Ecocide
Article Written by: Remya