Eco-Tourism refers to a form of tourism in which the main motivation of the tourist is the observation and appreciation of nature as well as the tradition and culture prevailing in a natural area. Eco-tourism has the following benefits:
(i) Economic Development:
Tourism is currently the world’s largest industry and fastest-growing sector of the economy. It is already the largest source of foreign exchange in countries like Costa Rica and Belgium.
(ii) Employment generation and income opportunities for local communities.
(iii) Environment 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 U.N. has declared 2002 as the ‘International Year of Eco-Tourism’.
In India, Eco-tourism is facing the 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 themselves, 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 nature, local and indigenous culture, traditional knowledge, genetic resources, and the right to land and property.
(ii) All important natural sites should be provided with proper infrastructure like road, telecommunications, _water, electricity, hotels, transports, guides, etc.
(iii) Government should provide incentives to tourism operations and service providers.
(iv) Government should arrange 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.