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Eco Tourism in India Essay

Chapter Eight

Ecotourism in India
Mohan Krishen Khanna

India, a country situated in south Asia, is of subcontinental dimension with a population of over one billion people. India is primarily an agricultural economy with a vast range of crops. The livelihood of over 60% of the population continues to be based on agriculture. Of late, there has been a growing trend of urbanisation and diversification away from agriculture. The industrial sector is now playing a larger role in the economy. After the economic liberalisation in 1991, the industrial and services components of the economy have shown a high rate of growth, and today services contribute 46% of the GDP. India is rated as the fourth largest economy in the world based on the “purchasing power party” method of calculating per capita GDP. Having said this, mention of the important socio-economic issues that face India is necessary. The primary issue is one of poverty, with 320 million people estimated to be living below the poverty line.

There are related problems of social and gender inequalities, illiteracy, lack of adequate health facilities, unplanned urbanisation, environment degradation, and underdevelopment of some areas. These are gigantic problems which are receiving the attention of the Indian Government and civil society, with some help from the international community. Since the foreign exchange crisis of 1991, a more liberal approach towards globalisation of the economy has been adopted by the government. India is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is opening its economy to the international market in phases. In keeping with the commitments to the WTO, exports have been increasing over the years and were reported to have grown by 30% in April, 2000. Special efforts are being made to attract foreign direct investment by providing attractive incentives to investors.

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The Indian Tourism Product
India has spectacularly attractive natural and cultural tourist attractions. It has a rich, over 5000-year-old, cultural heritage and thousands of monuments and archaeological sites for tourists to visit and enjoy. The remains of one of the most ancient river valley civilisations of the world (the Indus Valley civilisation) are found in India and Pakistan. The Taj Mahal and 16 other World Heritage Properties and several national heritage sites are in India. The country abounds in attractive and well- preserved historical sites and ancient monuments of architectural grandeur. There is a vast variety of building styles, which chronicle the cultural and historical diversity of their creators. India offers enormous diversity in topography, natural resources and climate. There are land-locked mountainous regions, lush valleys and plains, arid desert regions, white sandy beaches and islands. Central India has numerous wildlife sanctuaries with countless varieties of flora and fauna.

The country has unparalled cultural diversity, a kaleidoscope of races, languages, religions, customs and traditions. Indians have embraced almost all the major religions of the world and the country has given rise to five religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and “Tauhid-i-illahi” of Akbar. The geographical diversity of India provides opportunities for a wealth of outdoor and adventure sports activities. There is something for all tastes and interests, from the “soft” adventures to fast-paced thrills, and there is something for every level of experience. The prices are highly competitive. The major adventure tourism activities are trekking and skiing in the Himalayas, river running in the Ganges, water sports in Goa, trout fishing in Himachal Pradesh, heli-skiing in Himachal Pradesh, wind surfing, scuba diving and yachting in Andamans and Lakshadweep islands. India has some of the best beaches in the world, many of which are still unexplored, as in the Andamans and Lakshadweep Islands. Hospitality to visitors is an ancient Indian tradition.

The peoples’ lifestyles are varied. Life is full of culture, fairs and festivals, colour and spectacle. India is a land of folk fairs and festivals, some say that there is a fair each day of the year. Some of the important fairs and festivals are the Pushkar fair in Rajasthan, the Crafts Mela at Surajkund, Holi and Diwali in North India, Pongal in Tamilnadu, Onam in Kerala, Baisakhi in Punjab, Bihu in Assam, dance festivals at Khajuraho and Mamallapuram. Tourism in India can be a gastronomic delight. Each region has its culinary specialty and beautifully printed and expertly written cookbooks are on sale. But the best part is to sample the exotic fare in the thousands of restaurants. India has several forms of art and handcrafts. Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam are some of the most popular forms of classical dances which have their origins in various parts of the country. Every dance form has a precise vocabulary of emotions (love, yearning, – 64 –

sorrow etc.) and these are displayed by dance gestures that involve the body, arms, fingers, face and eyes. India is a treasure-trove of handcrafts. The options available include the gamut of multi-storied shopping plazas, air-conditioned stores selling a hand-picked assortment of crafts from every corner of the country, through to whole streets of shops selling specialty goods, to local fairs, where street stalls, set up overnight, stock a variety of exotica.

Ecotourism Resources of India
The geographical diversity of India makes it home to a wealth of ecosystems which are well protected and preserved. These ecosystems (see Box 1) have become the major resources for ecotourism. Following Box 1, each ecosystem is discussed in some detail.

Box 1: Indian Ecosystems and Resources
• • • • • • • • Biosphere Reserves Mangroves Coral Reefs Deserts Mountains and Forests Flora and Fauna Seas, Lakes and Rivers Caves

Biosphere reserves are multi-purpose protected areas, for preservation of the genetic diversity and the integrity of plants, animals and micro-organism in representative ecosystems. There are seven such reserves in India at present (see Box 2).

Box 2: Biosphere Reserves
• • • • • • • Nilgri Nanda Devi Nokrek Great Nicobar Gulf of Mannar Manas Sunderbans

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Mangroves are very specialised forest ecosystems of tropical and subtropical regions, bordering sheltered sea coasts and estuaries. The major mangrove areas are listed in Box 3.

Box 3: Major Mangrove Areas
• • • • • • • • • • Northern Adaman and Nicolar islands Sunderbans (West Bengal) Bhitarkanika and Mahanadi Delta (Orissa) Coringa, Godavari Delta and Kristna Estuary (Andhra Pradesh) Pichavaram and Point Calimere (Tamil Nadu) Goa Gulf of Kutch (Gajarat) Coonapur (Karnataka) Achra/Ratnagiri (Maharashtra) Vembanand (Kerala)

In order to protect and preserve these genetic resources, India has created a number of National Parks and 421 Wildlife Sanctuaries in different parts of the country. Those which have already become popular with tourists are Kaziranga and Manas in Assam; Jim Corbett in Uttar Pradesh; Keoladeo, Ghana, Ranthambore and Sariska in Rajasthan; Kanha and Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh; Bandipour in Karnataka and Similipal in Orissa. The Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal brace the sides of the Indian subcontinent, except for the landlocked northern boundary. The land mass of India is crossed by several rivers and dotted by lakes at many places. These water bodies provide attractive opportunities for water sports.

Economic Significance of Tourism
In India, tourism is emerging as a key sector in the economy. It is presently India’s third largest foreign exchange earner after garments, and gems and jewellery. The foreign exchange earnings from tourism during 1997–98 has been estimated to be about Rs.11264 crores (US $3173 million). The rate of growth in foreign exchange earnings from tourism is exceptionally high. The most significant feature of the tourism industry is its capacity to generate large-scale employment opportunities, particularly in remote and underdeveloped areas. It offers enormous potential for utilising natural resources like landscapes, mountains, beaches, rivers etc. for the economic benefit of the population. It also adds value to a multitude of human-made attractions such as monuments, palaces, forts and the unique rural and city environments. A special feature of the tourism industry is that it employs a large number of women and young people in hotels, airline services, travel agencies, making handcrafts, undertaking cultural activities, and other tourism-related tasks.

The direct employment in the sector during 1995–96 was about 8.5 million persons, accounting for about 2.4% of the total labour force. Estimates of indirect employment show that in total about 22 million persons derive their livelihood from tourism. Different forecasts of direct employment in the sector have been made, however, they underline the fact that tourism is growing to become an important economic activity. It is estimated that one new job is created in tourism every 2.4 seconds. Box 5 illustrates the comparative strength of tourism in creating jobs. A million rupee invested (1985–86 prices) in the hotel and restaurant industry created 89 jobs, against 44.7 jobs in agriculture or 12.6 jobs in manufacturing industries for the same investment. The average for the whole tourism sector was 47.5 jobs.

Box 4: Coral Reef Ecosystems
• • • • Gulf of Mannar Andaman and Nicobar Islands Kakshadweep Islands Gulf of Kutch

The Great Thar Desert and the little deserts in the North Western Region of the country are distinct ecosystems which have fascinated tourists from all over the world. Ladakh is a cold desert with high, snow-clad mountains, fast rivers, and the people have a distinctive Buddhist culture. The great Himalayas and other mountain ranges in the country, along with the snow-clad slopes, forests and rivers have also become important attractions for eco-tourists. The country has an area of about 752.3 lakh hectares designated as forest land and of this about 406.1 lakh hectares are classified as Reserve Forests and 215.1 lakh hectares as Protected Forests. India is very rich in biotic as well as abiotic resources. It has about 45 000 species of plants. The country also has a great variety of fauna, numbering a little over 65 000 known species, including 1228 bird, 428 reptile, 372 mammal, 204 amphibian and 2546 fish species. – 66 –

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Box 5: Comparative Job Creation
Agriculture Manufacturing Mining and Quarrying Railways Other Transport Hotels and Restaurants Tourism

Labour/Capital Ratio
44.7 12.6 2.06 0.9 13.8 89.0 47.5

advancement of women and other disadvantaged groups. The Working Group constituted for the formulation of proposals for the Ninth Plan on Tourism considered a growth target of 8% per annum in tourist arrivals as feasible during 1997–2002 leading to total arrivals of about 3.12 million tourists by the year 2000 subject of course to substantial improvement in infrastructure and services.

Major Constraints on Growth
Though India has much to offer in terms of tourist attractions, there are major constraints on the growth of tourism, particularly international tourist traffic. The greatest constraint is inadequate infrastructure. Constraints include lack of sufficient airports and airport facilities, international and domestic air-seat capacity, surface transport systems, basic wayside amenities, accommodation, restaurants, shopping and recreational facilities, trained labourforce resources, and support services and facilities. Both quality and quantity of infrastructure are major impediments to the growth of tourism in the country. Although there are 121 airports maintained by the Airport Authority of India and 139 airports maintained by state governments and other agencies, there are only 10 airports with a runway length of over 3000 m. Even these airports, including five international airports, do not have the latest Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) and other equipment to facilitate safe and secure landing of aircraft in all weather conditions. Quality of service at the airports is also not up to international standards. The Ministry of Civil Aviation is making efforts to deal with this problem.

In addition to the five existing international airports, seven more airports are to be developed for international air services. More airports will be opened for charter traffic. Four international airports are being leased out to private operators. The new proposed civil aviation policy seeks to develop civil aviation by increasing the forces of competition, economic liberalisation and globalisation. The international air-seat capacity for India is presently about 5.3 million which is just enough to cater for the existing level of passenger traffic. A number of tourist-origin countries are not directly connected by air to India. Additional international air-seat capacity of at least 2 million would be required if 3.2 millions tourists were to come by 2000. If the target of 5 million tourists is to be achieved, the additional capacity required is estimated to be 5 million seats. Distances to India, considered a long haul destination for tourists from the USA and most of Europe, act as a deterrent to tourists from these countries. Lack of adequate air-seat capacity on international flights during the tourist season, which is from October to March, further compounds the problem, and works against increasing foreign tourists. While there is some

Source: Annual Plan, Department of Tourism, Govt. of India, 1996–97.

Another important feature of the tourism industry, which is of particular significance to India, is its contribution to national integration and the social transformation of the economic lives of people. Over 176 million domestic tourists (see Box 6) visiting different parts of the country every year, return with a better understanding of the people living in other regions of the country and of the cultural diversity of India. Tourism also encourages preservation of monuments and heritage properties and helps the survival of art forms, crafts and culture.

Box 6: Domestic Tourist Visits Year
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

Domestic Tourists Visits (Million)
120 131 144 157 176 189 (Projected)

Source: Report of the Working Group on Tourism for the Ninth Five-Year Plan, 1997–2002, Dept. of Tourism, Govt of India, New Delhi.

Tourism has become an instrument for sustainable human development through poverty alleviation, environmental regeneration, job creation, and the

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talk of an “open sky policy”, in practice this is yet to happen and foreign airlines do not have free access to India. However, the scenario is changing with the negotiation of bilateral agreements which will add one million new seats to international air-seat capacity. Negotiations still underway may yield more seats. Recently United Airways and Virgin Airlines have announced intentions of covering India. The total air-seat capacity available in the domestic sector today is over 17 million. In 1996, 70% of this capacity was utilised with 12 million passengers travelling in the country, 7.1 million by the state-run Indian Airlines and 4.9 million by the private airlines. It is expected that this sector will grow at about 6% per annum. A major exercise is underway to restructure Indian Airlines and add capacity in the private sector airlines, which should yield results in the years to come. Although many of these projections seem optimistic given the downturn in the economy in 1997 and 1998, the situation is expected to normalise soon with the upturn in the economy. There is need to address problems of insufficient flights to major tourist destinations particularly during the tourist season, the high cost of internal air travel and inconvenient flight schedules.

Efforts also need to be undertaken to improve the efficiency of Indian Airlines and foster growth of private airlines. An efficient and responsive domestic air transport system is an essential prerequisite for generating more tourism to India. Other important areas which require attention are airline quality and networking. There are too few flights available, particularly during the best tourist season, and the services that do exist are high priced and their schedule of arrivals/departures are inconvenient for travellers. Within the country, the services of Indian Airlines require substantial improvement, and they need to network with private airlines. A viable hubs-and-spoke operation, networking larger commercial centres with smaller tourist destinations needs to be developed to improve access to the interior of the country. The second serious handicap to tourism in India is the scarcity and high cost of hotel accommodation. The number of approved hotel rooms available in 1997 was around 64 500, with about 36 000 under construction. The demand by the year 2000 has been estimated at 1.25 lakhs, which means there would be a shortfall of 27 000 hotel rooms.

Lack of economically priced hotel accommodation in the tourist season is being cited as one of the reasons for not choosing India as the place for a holiday. There are two approaches to this problem. One is to increase the floor-area-ratio for the hotels so that existing hotels are able to add more rooms. The other is to make more land available for hotel construction by inducing land allotting agencies to put aside more land for the hotel industry through auction, long leases and equity participation schemes. The agencies can also play a role in bringing private buyers and sellers together to enable entrepreneurs easy access to land and buildings in private hands. – 70 –

The public agencies need to liberalise the regime for granting licences and approvals so as to expedite construction of hotels. A “one window” (or “one-stop-shop”) system could be a measure to facilitate faster approvals. Access to capital is another limiting factor. The Tourism Finance Corporation Inc. (TFCI) and the other financing institutions which provide institutional mechanisms for access to capital do not have a positive approach to lending for hotels. There is need to generate more rooms through innovative measures like promoting the Paying Guest Accommodation scheme at major tourist centres. Currently, 1472 units with 5953 rooms are available in 14 states. State Governments need to be more proactive in promoting this scheme as it is a preferred alternative to hotels for many, requiring comparatively less investment and is hence more advantageous to tourists. Another major means of creating accommodation is approval of guesthouses.

Due to the complicated procedure adopted which requires guesthouses to obtain a number of clearances including those from the Police, Municipal Authorities and the Tourism Department, economically priced guesthouses have not developed in keeping with the expectations of tourists travelling on a budget. As many of these are run without due approvals, they have acquired a reputation for dealing in drugs, cheating residents and other criminal activities. It would be worthwhile for the state governments to undertake a campaign to get these guesthouses recognised and approved and hence to generate more hotel rooms. (The Ministry of Tourism is in touch with the state governments over this issue). Another major inhibitor of the growth of tourism is the difficulty of obtaining visas for India. Visa restrictions need to be liberalised, to ensure a larger flow of tourists to the country. A number of options are available. The visa regime must be liberalised at least in respect of those countries which do not pose any political or security problems. Visas should be issued easily on entry at the airport in respect of visitors from such countries.

The principle of reciprocity in the issue of visas should not be insisted on in the case of nationals of those countries with whom India has signed bilateral tourism agreements. Special tourist visas available on arrival for up to two weeks should be made available at the airports. The procedure for the issue of visas can also be made simple and at least in the major tourist originating countries the applications for a tourist visa could be received through the internet and processed on computers. Another area that requires attention is the possibility of reducing visa charges, particularly special charges on visiting restricted areas. Increased competition from neighbouring countries and poor perception of the Indian tourism product (particularly with regard to transport infrastructure) – 71 –

in the major tourist originating markets are the other constraints on the growth of tourism. An added negative factor is the image of India as a country overrun by poverty, disease, touts and political instability. The promotional expenditure in the overseas markets of competitor destinations like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia far exceeds the promotional expenditure by India. India needs to make vigorous efforts to improve its image as an attractive destination, and for this more resources are required. There are numerous other constraints in the development of tourism in India, including lack of priority in the planning of development, poor upkeep of monuments and wildlife sanctuaries, inadequate surface transport facilities, poor quality of services etc.

The Government of India has set up a group of Ministers under the Minister of Tourism to coordinate activities of various government departments and agencies. A committee under the Cabinet Secretary assists in implementation of decisions and removal of systematic problems. Dialogue with the state governments to liberalise and rationalise taxation and deal with other issues is an ongoing process. Many of the activities in the tourism sector are dependent on initiatives of the state governments. Enlightened state governments like Kerala, Goa and Rajasthan have done a lot to attract more tourists by making facilities more tourist friendly.

Box 7: Government Responsibilities for Ecotourism
Regulate structures that create visual pollution, unaesthetic views and are non-compatible architecture; and encourage use of local building material and structures befitting the local environment. Exclude developments in geologically unstable zones and define development and buffer zones after proper environmental impact assessments. Establish and enforce standards, building codes and other regulations. Specify environmental, physical and social carrying capacities to limit development. Ensure continuous monitoring of adverse effects of tourism activities and initiate suitable corrective measures. Recognise and award quality by accreditation of ecotourism operators. Provide visitor information and interpretation services covering particularly (i) what to see; (ii) how to see it; and (iii) how to behave. This can be by way of brochures, leaflets, specialised guides, visitor information centres and such. Prepare and distribute codes of conduct to all visitors. Launch training programs on ecotourism for tourism administrators, planners, operators and the general public.

Promoting Ecotourism in India
The key players in the ecotourism business are governments at both levels, the local authorities, the developers and the operators, the visitors, and the local community. Each one of them has to be sensitive to the environment and local traditions and follow a set of guidelines for the successful development of ecotourism. In addition, non-governmental organisations and scientific and research institutions also have to play a key role in the development of ecotourism. A management plan for each ecotourism area should be prepared by professional landscape architects and urban planners, in consultation with the local community as well as others directly concerned.

Integrated planning should be adopted to avoid inter-sectoral and cross-sectoral conflict. A first step should be to prepare 20-year Master Plans for each state. The architectural program for ecotourism centres should include controlled access points, roads, self-guided nature trails, transportation options, interpretation centres, signs, observation towers and adequate but unpretentious lodging and dining facilities, docks, garbage disposal facilities and other utilities as needed. If required, suitable living quarters and facilities for project personnel should be provided. Box 7 is a list of actions for the development of ecotourism, where the responsibility is with the government. The roles and responsibilities of tourism developers and operators are fundamental to the achievement of ecotourism and the long-term success of the businesses. These are listed in Box 8.

Box 8: Roles and Responsibilities of Ecotourism Developers and Operators Respect and follow the planning restrictions, standards and codes provided by the government and local authorities. Implement sound environment principles through self-regulation. Undertake environmental impact assessment for all new projects and conduct regular environment audits for all ongoing activities, leading to development of environmental improvement programs. Be aware of, and sensitive to, protected or threatened areas, species and scenic amenity; undertake landscape enhancement wherever possible. Ensure that all structures are unobtrusive and do not interfere with the natural ecosystem to the extent possible.

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Recognise the optimal environmental capacity and sociological use-limits of the site in creating tourist facilities; also take into account the safety and convenience of tourists. Design buildings strictly on functional and environmental considerations and avoid over-construction. Use local material and designs to the extent possible in construction. Employ eco-friendly physical planning, architectural design and construction of tourist facilities, for example use solar energy, capture and utilise rainwater, recycle garbage, use natural cross-ventilation instead of air conditioning, ensure a high level of self-sufficiency in food through orchards, ecological farms, aquaculture and such. Employ energy and water-saving practices to the extent possible; freshwater management and controlled sewage disposal should also be practised. Control air emissions, chemical pollutants and noise. Control and reduce environmentally unfriendly products such as asbestos, CFCs, pesticides and toxic, corrosive, infectious, explosive or flammable material.

Respect and support historic or religious objects and sites. Provide information and interpretive services to visitors especially on attractions and facilities, safety and security, local customs and traditions, prohibitions and regulations and expected behaviour. Ensure adequate opportunities for visitors to commune with nature and native cultures. Provide correct information in marketing ecotourism products, as visitors who appreciate ecotourism products usually belong to environmentally-aware groups. Include training and research programs on environmental issues for company staff. Prepare tourists before their visit to minimise possible negative impacts while visiting sensitive environments and cultures. Ensure safety and security of visitors and inform them of precautions to be taken. Exercise due regard for the interest of the local population, including its history, tradition and culture and future economic development. Involve the local community to the extent possible in various activities and vocations.

Box 9: The Responsibilities of Ecotourists
Help conserve habitats of flora and fauna as well as any site, natural feature or culture, which may be affected by tourism. Make no open fires and discourage others from doing so. If water has to be heated with scarce firewood, use as little as possible. Where feasible, use kerosene or fuel-efficient wood stoves. Remove litter, burn or bury paper and carry back all non-degradable litter. Keep local water clean and avoid using pollutants such as detergents in streams or springs. If no toilet facilities are available, relieve yourself at least 30 metres away from water sources and bury or cover the waste. Leave plants to flourish in their natural environment and avoid taking away cuttings, seeds and roots. Leave campsites clean after use. Help guides and porters to follow conservation measures.

Do not allow cooks/porters to throw garbage in streams or rivers. Respect the natural and cultural heritage of the area and follow local customs. Respect local etiquette and do not wear tight-fitting clothes. Remember that kissing in public is disapproved of in India. Respect privacy of individuals and ask permission to take photographs of local inhabitants. Respect holy places; do not touch or remove religious objects. Strictly follow the guidelines for personal safety and security and always take your own precautions and safety measures.

If a community wants to host ecotourism, it has a central role to play. The host community’s success in bringing ecotourism to it and ensuing that the level and type of tourism is compatible with the community’s aspirations are matters the community can control. Box 10 lists the matters with which the host community must deal.

Box 10: The Role and Responsibility of the Host Community
Realise and respect the value of the environment, the flora and fauna, the monuments and your cultural heritage. Practice conservation of nature and culture as a way of life. Establish guidelines to protect valuable local resources and foster tourism management. React to the potential threat of investors who see opportunities in development but lack sensitivity to local values. Become effective nature guides and conservationists of natural areas by utilising practical and ancestral knowledge of the natural features of the area. Be friendly to the visitors and help them to practise ecotourism principles.

Just as the government authorities and the tourism operators play fundamental roles in the success of ecotourism, so does the tourist. Box 9 lists the responsibilities of tourists.

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Finally there is a role for others, such as scientific and research institutions and non-government organisations, in promoting ecotourism. The things they can do include: (i) create awareness, among all concerned, about the importance of sound eco-practices in tourism development; (ii) motivate the local community to increase their involvement in sustainable tourism activities; and (iii) organise training programs to prepare the local people to take up various vocations related to ecotourism.

the Pacific Travel Association have introduced an ecotourism pledge which requires their members to adopt environment-friendly practices.

Tourism has proved to be an engine of growth in many economies in the world. It provides for the generation of income, wealth and employment, and helps in the sustainable development of remote areas. In India, tourism provides direct employment to 9 million people and indirect employment to another 13 million persons, thus providing a livelihood to 22 million persons. It contributes an estimated 2.4% of the gross national product. Its contribution to the economies of states like Rajasthan, Goa and Kerala are significant. Although beginning to be understood for its potential to provide for development in India, tourism still remains a sector that needs serious attention. Tourism has proved to have negative impacts as well as the positive ones. It is criticised for contaminating indigenous culture. This takes the form of changing values, resulting in social maladies like drug addiction, child prostitution, etc. A far more widespread negative impact is caused by mass tourism in environmentally fragile areas like mountains, hills, deserts and coastal regions.

Due to heavy tourist traffic in some areas, the cultural and environmental assets of the community are under threat. Although this phenomenon is not widespread in India, there is a need to take note of the possible negative influences of tourism so that timely preservation action can be taken and irreparable loss avoided. The movement towards ecotourism is at once a threat and an opportunity to create more sustainable tourism: by diverting tourist traffic to ensure the carrying capacity of any destination is not exceeded; by planning for regeneration of natural resources; and by generating awareness in the host community whereby they are prepared and forearmed to deal with the negative impact of mass tourism. As in most cases, a middle path is the most creative way to maximise the economic potential of tourism, while at the same time minimising the negative social influences and threats to the environment. Only ecotourism where the tourists, the service providers, the host community and authorities are well informed and prepared to harness tourism as an engine of growth can yield sustainable results.

Motivations for Involvement in Ecotourism
Hotel and travel companies in India function in a relatively free environment. The country is slowly but surely moving towards a market economy where commercial considerations dictate motivation for the private sector to take up various activities. Crass commercial considerations have, however, to be controlled by the government on behalf of the public. The environment has to be protected through awareness-generation, legislation, policy and administrative action. The travelling public is also becoming conscious of the need to protect the environment, to some extent at least. As a result, many enterprises in the hospitality sector have adopted environment-friendly practices like conserving energy and water and recycling unutilised hotel outputs.

These can be powerful marketing tools for hotel groups. Furthermore, with the increase in cost of vital inputs like energy, water etc., companies are motivated to conserve limited resources by adopting practices which reduce levels of consumption. Many hotel companies advise their clients to be careful in the use of lights, water and other hotel services. Civil society has also begun to exercise control over the environment. Many non-government organisations have been generating awareness about environmentally destructive practices. Individuals have taken recourse to public interest litigation to stop environmentally destructive practices. The Indian judicial system has been very liberal in restraining environmentally hazardous activities. At times, political parties also stop environmentally harmful practices by agitation and raising issues in democratic forums such as state legislatures.

The print and electronic media have been very active in India in investigating environmentally injurious activities by highlighting such issues and creating public opinion for environmentally compatible practices. The Government of India has a Ministry of Environment and Forests with a mandate to oversee use of the environment in order to conserve it. The Government has also set up institutions like the Central and State Pollution Control Board to deal with the defaulters. The state governments also have Departments of Environment and Pollution Control. The Ministry of Tourism has issued ecotourism guidelines for adoption by all concerned organisations. Some tourism bodies and associations like – 76 –

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