Eco – Tourism refers to a form of tourism in which the main motivation of the tourist is the observation and appreciation of the nature as well as tradition and culture prevailing in a natural area. Eco – tourism has following benefits:
(i) Economic Development: Tourism is currently world’s largest industry and fastest growing sector of economy. It is already the largest source of foreign exchange in countries like Cost-Rica and Belgium.
(ii) Employment generation and income opportunities for local communities.
(iii) Environmental Protection: As nature becomes the source of employment and income for local communities, they become more keen and aware about the protection of natural and cultural assets in their region.
Due to these benefits of Eco – Tourism, the UN has declared 2002 as the ‘International Year of Eco – Tourism’.
In India, Eco – Tourism is facing following problems.
(i) Lack of strategic business plant;
(ii) Lack of well-trained nature guide;
(iii) Lack of suitable marketing technique;
(iv) Lack of method for gaining community consensus on development projects.
According to government documents itself, a majority of the tourists visiting India rates facilities provided here from average to poor.
Due to all the above-mentioned reasons, we get less than 0.38% of the share of total tourists of the world.
Steps to be taken to promote Eco – tourism in our country
(i) Government should take steps to protect the nature, local and indigenous culture, traditional knowledge, genetic resources and right to land and property.
(ii) All important natural sites should be provided with proper infrastructure like road, tele-communications, water, electricity, hotels, transports, guides etc.
(iii) Government should provide incentives to tourism operations and service providers.
(iv) Government should arrange the educational programmes for children and young people to enhance awareness about nature conservation and sustainable use.
(v) Government should lay emphasis on building local capacity and enhancing local benefits.