Give communities a say in tourism

  • 29/11/2002

You are working on the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR)...
Not really. I am working on the Corbett Binsar Nainital Ecotourism Initiative. We are trying to develop a framework in conservation and ecotourism. We are working in the area rimmed by ctr, Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary and Nainital.

What is the project about?
People who are connected with conservation regard tourism as a threat. Those who are involved in tourism look upon conservation as an impediment to development. No one is looking at the interface between tourism and conservation. As a result, the opportunity to use ecotourism as a tool to enhance conservation is lost. Worse still, detrimental tourism flourishes. The project is trying to address these issues.

The idea is that development shouldn't take place only in ctr, Binsar and Nainital. These three places should become important nodes around which tourism and conservation can develop. Once the framework for this is complete, it will be available to anyone who wishes to use it as a tool for developing ecotourism-related projects.

The project talks of a balance between nature and culture-based tourism...
Tourists demand a first-hand experience with people and culture. On the other hand, we have to conserve cultural resources to save natural resources. Ecotourism is the perfect tool for this. Also, people could earn more from cultural tourism.

Why do you say that?
Well, much of the best natural wealth is under the government, whereas the cultural resources belong to the people. At times, the people themselves are the cultural resources. So they control it, and can earn money from it.

But this money could actually subvert

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