It’s great to be a tourist, but not an irresponsible one. Our search for bliss and natural beauty shouldn’t come at the cost of harming nature. This is the lesson that these states in India are teaching the tourists through their efforts to foster responsible tourism. By Shubhanjana Das
1. Himachal Pradesh:
The name itself makes you yearn for the forests, mountains, rivers, and of course, the ever-welcoming people of the state, doesn’t it? But, increased pressure from tourism has affected the aesthetic appeal as well as the flora and fauna of the place over the years. Two organisations, namely Ecotourism Society and Ecosphere in this ‘abode of snow’ have been directing incessant efforts to not only slow down the environmental degradation experienced by the state due to irresponsible tourism but also restore it to what it was a decade back. While Ecotourism Society practices community-based eco-tourism, Ecosphere works towards promoting the lesser known areas by advocating volunteer travel, emphasising on contributing positively to the place.
Himachal’s neighbour, Uttarakhand, is not far behind in catching up with the practice of promoting and practising responsible tourism. Collaborative as well as individual efforts of the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, Garhwal-Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam, and ecotourism division of the state forest department has led to the promotion of many village treks. Along these trails, the organisations also run homestays in order to support the local homeowners instead of luxury hotel chains. The fact that Pawalgarh Conservation Reserve – a tiger conservation reserve in Ramnagar – has seen immense success in its eco-tourism and responsible tourism activities proves that with consistent and dedicated effort, it is possible to redress the balance. The next time you head to Uttarakhand, look for ecolodges for your accommodation like those in Jayalgarh and Auli to have an authentic experience during your stay.
One of the seven sister states in the North-East, Arunachal Pradesh is studded with beatific gems, ones you can only believe when you witness them. But, like every other destination that attracts tourists, Arunachal Pradesh is also on the receiving end of careless tourism practices. Organisations like Green Pastures and Ngunu Ziro by Future Generation Arunachal are on a one-sighted mission to spread awareness on eco-tourism, promote local homestays, and safeguard the tribal culture as well as their home. This means that every tourist can enjoy trekking, visit wildlife sanctuaries, and explore the unexplored terrains of Arunachal, but with enhanced awareness about their responsibility towards making a positive impact wherever they go.
Did you know that God’s Own Country was the first to execute planned tourism is India? Well, given that The Ghats are considered one of the top 18 biodiversity hotspots in the whole world, an initiative by both non-governmental organisations as well as the government to provide security to the wildlife was a natural sequel. This oasis of wildlife diversity shelters species that are to be found nowhere else in the world and hence need protection, which is being provided by Thenmala Ecotourism Project. The project concentrates on the development of Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary Reservoir and Deer Rehabilitation Center. Besides, the Center for Ecotourism of Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies must be credited for the promotion as well as the teaching of sustainable tourism through seminars and community service.