Ecotourism in India | All You Need to Know - himalayanfever

ecotourism-in-india

Today, all over the world people are becoming more concious about environment and are looking for eco-friendly alternatives to their daily needs and activities. Following the same approach in the travel industry, the travel industry has been revolutionized in terms of eco-friendly altrenatives from past few years.

If you are a traveler, you may had heard the term "ecotourism". You may gained some rough idea after hearing the word ecotourism. After reading this article on Ecotourism in India, you will completely understand what ecotourism really means and its scope in India.


What is Ecotourism?

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Ecotourism is primarily a combination of two words: Ecology and Tourism.

Ecology relates to the study of the relationship between plants, animals, humans, and their physical environment. In simple words, it is the branch of biology, dealing with the relationship of living organisms with each other and their environment.

While tourism may be referred as the movement of people from their residence to other places for the leisure and other purposes. The ecology when combined with the purposes for tourism, forms the term "Ecotourism".

Ecotourism is entirely a new approach in the tourism industry. Ecotourism is primarily focused on the conservation of nature. It involves spending some time in offbeat and fragile natural areas, experiencing the nature's beauty.

Ecotourism is a form of responsible travel that allows people to observe the flora and fauna closely and attempts to minimize the impact on the environment. It is a great way to glorify the culture, rituals, and traditions of the local people.

Ecotourism can be categorised as nature based sustainable travel that focuses to educate the traveler, and benefit the economic development of the local community by generating more employment opportunities. It is often considered better than the normal mass tourism.


Ecotourism Official Definition

According to the International Ecotourism Society(TIES), ecotourism can be defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”.


Who is an Ecotourist?

Ecotourists are a group of tourists that demand different activities, recreational opportunities and travel experiences that involves more role of the nature. Ecotourists are experienced travelers who are more likely to have a higher income than the average incomes.

Ecotourists are basically interested in visiting lush green environments filled with plants and animals. They discover new lifestyles and explore nature from the closest. Maximum of ecotourists travel for the purpose to grow emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.


Ecotourism in India

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Extending from the beautiful Himalayas to the coasts, India is the land of diverse geographical conditions. India has a treasure of natural beauty, and the beautiful old cultures and traditions. There are various hill stations, beaches, archaeological monuments, glaciers, plains, mountains, and rivers in India.

Indian ecosystem is an abundant source of flora and fauna. There are around 81,000 fauna species and 47,000 flora species found in India. It is home to several rarest plants and animals species over the whole world.

India has an unique diversified climate and is a store of all types of forests and wildlife conditions. You can enjoy any type of climate here ranging from the extreme cold in high altitudes and hot in the plains. India’s rich cultural heritage, rituals, and traditions also plays a major role in the development of tourism.

India is a country of endless opportunities and a home of one of the oldest civilizations. From ancient times, the sages have been moving to mountains and other offbeat charming locations for meditation and other purposes. They know the valuable bond between the humans and the surrounding nature.

Ecotourism in India has several benefits for both the nature and the people. Ecotourism in India has the capacity to genrerate large-scale employment opportunities for the local communities in remote areas. Alongwith it provides a decent way to conserve biodiversity across country.

Gradually, India is developing proper infrastructure for tourism activities without destroying natural habitats. There are several ecotorism spots all over India such as the Himalayan Region, northeast India, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Lakshdweep Island that are filled with greenery.

These destinations provides a fantastic way to closely enjoy the ever-charming beauty of the mother nature. There are several local/tribal groups in these spots which depend on the nature and its resources for their livelihood. All of these ecotourism spots attracts a number of tourists from all around.


Importance of Ecotourism in India

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Tourism unambiguously ranks among the top industries worlwide generating huge employment opportunities. Tourism in any developing country mainly depends on country's biodiversity. The better the quality of natural and other resources in the country, the better will be the scope for tourism.

In India, tourism is one of the most crucial factors in the Indian Economy and is growing rapidly.In 2018, tourism industry has generated around 9.2% of the country's GDP. India has the second largest human resources of the world and has experienced an increased demand in travel sector.

India has a precious treasure of attractive natural and cultural resources which provides it a better position on the world's tourism map. Even India has a tremendous scope for the ecotourism activities. Ecotourism in India developed in 1970s and 1980s as a way of promoting sustainability and benefiting the local communities.

Government Authorities in India has realized the scope of ecotourism and are trying their best to promote and develop proper infrastructure for ecotourism activities in the country without disturbing the ecosystem. Even in India, it is recognized as a separate industry.

In 2008, Indian Government has formed a society called Responsible Tourism Society of India(recently Ecotourism Society of India), which aim to promote and ensure environmentally responsible and sustainable practices in the tourism industry.

Alongwith a rich biodiversity, India has many wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and protection laws. Currently, there are about 103 nationanal parks and 553 sanctuaries in India, which works towards the protection and conservation of wildlife resources.

Also, there are several Botanical and Zoological Gardens in India working for the enhancement of the ecosystem. Severals steps has been taken in the regard to stop poaching activities across the country. Numerous organisations and NGOs are coming forward to spread environmental awareness among people.


Benefits of Ecotourism

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There are several benefits that Ecotourism industry offers for the country. A detailed breakdown of some of the benefits is described below:

Support Local Communities:

The major benefit of the Ecotourism is that it primarly focus on the welfare of the local communities. Ecotourism generates employment opportunities for the local opportunities in the areas associated with ecotourism activities.

The local people also get other facilities such as proper roads, better health and electricity facilities. The primary focus is to involve local people and get them skilled with proper management and hospitality techniques.

Ecotourism promotes proper and fair hiring of the local people involving more locals in the area. This ecotourism model benefits the locals from the visitors. In India, ecotourism has become a source of income for local people through direct employment.

Protection of Endangered Species:

The another benefit of the ecotourism is that it works towards the conservation of biodiversity across country. For a place to be considered as an ecotourism destination, several factors need to be considered such as flora and fauna of the place, and many more.

The concept of the ecotourism is dependent on and for the sake of the natural environment. Several steps has been taken in the regard to protect various endangered plants and animal species in country.

Many eco-friendly hotels and resorts have been constructed where environmentally concious tourists can stay. It is also ensured that the hotel construction and accommodation activities should not have any negative impact on surrounding environment.

Respect Local Culture:

Ecotourism is one of the way to explore a place environmental and cultural aspects. The ecotourism offers a perfect opportunity to deeply get in touch with the nature. It is a great way for you to meet new people and make friends.

Ecotourism involves involvement of the local people. Tourists interact with the local population and show interest in their livelihood and customs. In this way, the cultural heritage of the community is preserved.

Ecotourism is a great way to learn about the festivals, traditions and rituals of the communities in beautiful offbeat locations. It creates a sense of awareness and appreciation for others culture.

Environmental Awareness:

Today there is a need to raise awareness among people towards the environment. Nature is a man's best friend and it always helps the living beings on the planet. So, as a human being it's our responsibility to contribute towards the nature.

Ecotourism in India has gained momentum and now both government authorities and travel agents have realized the benefits of ecotourism. Both are trying their best to promote eco-friendly travel activities across the country.

Ecotourism focuses on rising awareness about the environment among locals and the tourists. This raised awareness helps in conservation of the environment and encourage locals to adopt eco-friendly practices.

Tourists are also encouraged to keep the environment clean and green. This increased awareness will help to improve the environment and quality of life in country.

Proper Infrastructure:

A tourist destination will get more tourist rush if it has proper infrastructure and provide proper facilities. Ecotourism in India is one of the key point government is focusing on, as travel industry generates contribute a lot towards the country's GDP.

Ecotourism helps generate funds for environment protection, research, education, and other purposes through a number of ways. Even some voluntary contributions are done for the purpose of conservation of the environment.

Many offbeat ecotourism destinations have the highest scenic beauty, but the problem is some of them are underdeveloped. Ecotourism industry address this issue and development of infrastructure is the another major benefit offered by the industry.


Risks of Ecotourism

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Ecotourism is a sustainable form of the tourism and is better than the traditional mass tourism. Ecotourism has several benefits but it doesn't mean it has no downsides. Some of the major issues from the Ecotourism for country are described below:

Environmental Issues:

Ecotourism gives rise to some environmental issues. The tourists opting for ecotourism are often wealthy people belonging to wealthy class of the society. They are capable to pay for everything they wish to enjoy and have fun.

So, sometimes the tour companies focuses more on profit making by assuring to fulfill every demand made by visitors. In order to generate more profit by attracting visitors tour companies build artificial stuctures, hotels and shopping centers in the area.

Such projects can disturb the ecosystem and can cause the loss of flora and fauna in the area. If not planned properly, then sometimes ecotourism itself can become the biggest obstacle in the conservation of environment.

Pollution Issues:

Ecotourism activities are carried out majorly in offbeat locations where flora and fauna are in abundant amount. Some people are attracted towards the nature and they pay for the purpose of spending some time in the mother nature.

If ecotourism is not monitored properly it can be as harmful as the mass tourism. Many people visits ecotourism spots but this involves heavy usage of natural resources in the area. Several visitors bring packed food and plastic products with them and spread garbage thoughout area.

Some of the tourist hotels dump their collected waste into rivers causing water pollution. Increased foot traffic in the area causes damage to the vegetation and also affect the quality of soil.

Threat to Wildlife:

If not organized properly, ecotourism activities can also posess some major threats to the natural wildlife in the place. The increased presence of humans may negatively impact the natural behaviors of some wildlife species.

Many visitors engage in late night parties and produce a lot of noise. This activity irritates the animals which leads to change in their basic breeding and feeding behaviour. Even sometimes there are cases of clashes between the animals and the humans.

The biggest threat for wildlife from Ecotourism is the poaching activity. Many visitors came here for the purpose of hunting animals and selling their body parts at expensive prices. They often involve locals for this purpose by paying them a meager amount of money.

Impact over Locals:

One of the basic goal of ecotourism is to engage local communities which will benefit them. But this doesn't mean that it works completely in the favor of the local community people. It can deceive local people in many ways.

Ecotourism business are often owned and controlled by outsiders which always seek to earn more profit rather than supporting the local communities and the environment. Tour Companies use locals as cheap labour providing them very little money.

Locals get seasonal and low valued jobs serving as guides, and hotel workers. Some local people feels insecure from the huge rush of tourists. They may lose their traditional way of life as they become influenced to the Western culture.


Final Words

India with vast geographical conditions has a lot to offer, particularly in terms of flora and fauna, that's why ecotourism is gaining momentum in India. If the natural resources are properly utilised and appropriate steps are taken, then we can revolutionize the face of ecotourism industry in India.

There are several geographical and other factors that promoted the ecotourism in India. Due to increased human interference, India is loosing its treasure of natural beauty. What actually needed today is proper planning because a well controlled ecosystem can be beneficial for biodiversity in the country.

However, India has a great potential for the ecotourism industry in the future. So even if you are planning for a travel trip, you can choose from various ecotourism spots across India. Always ensure that your travel activities do not harm the environment and wildlife.

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