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In the second chapter the literature on the subject was reviewed. In this
chapter it is proposed to explain the importance of ecotourism in India.

3.1 Introduction
India, a country situated in South Asia, is of sub continental dimension
with a population of over one billion people. Even after completing eleven five
year plans and five yearly plans, India is beleaguered with several problems.
Agriculture, the primary means of livelihood for millions of people still is in a
very bad shape. Even after spending billions of rupees under various names for
alleviating poverty, it continues to be very acute. Different estimates of poverty
vary—The Planning Commission’s estimate is the most conservative and Utsa
Patnaik’s is the broadest estimate. Utsa Patnaik’s study using NSS data vis-a-vis
the calorie intake prescribed by the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research)
shows that around 70 percent of the Indian population are living below the
poverty line. There was lot of controversy about the Planning Commission’s
estimate of poverty. There are related problems like social and gender inequalities,
illiteracy, lack of adequate health facilities, unplanned urbanisation,
environmental degradation, under nourishment of children and underdevelopment
of some areas. From the mountains of the Himalayas in Kashmir to the seacoasts
of Kanyakumari and from the Thar deserts of Rajasthan to the humid forests of the
northeast, India displays her wealth of diversity in cultures, religious fairs and
festivals. Indeed, India follows unity in diversity. The country extends up to
3200km from south to north and 3000km from east to west covering 32,87,263 This is divided into 28 states and seven directly administered union
territories (including the capital Delhi). The states are further sub-divided into
districts. In the global scenario, India has a prime position in the field of tourism
among world’s Top 50 (Fifty) tourist destination countries. In India, tourism
sector is the second largest net foreign exchange earner. This is a country with
second largest human resources of the world. Developing economies, particularly

the more dynamic emerging economies such as India, have been experiencing an
increased demand for travel.

The country has a large treasure of natural beauty, archaeological and

architectural monuments. In addition, there are many hill resorts, beach resorts,
mountains and rivers etc. The northern part of India is famous for its hills, plains,
rivers, and monuments etc- the Himalayas, Kashmir Valley, the Ganges. The Taj
Mahal, the Kutub Minar, religious centers like Varanasi, Badrinath attracts large
number of tourists. The western region has tourist centers like Ajantha-Ellora and
industrial centre like Mumbai. Goa beach attracts foreign and Indian tourists. The
southern region has many temples, beaches, hill resorts, cultural heritage etc.
Places like Chennai, Madurai, Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram are important
centres of tourism in South India. The eastern region has tourist attraction like the
Gir Forest, pilgrim centers like Konarak and industrial centres like Kolkata.

There are colourful tribal life-styles of the North Eastern States of

Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur with their folk culture is also worth
mention. In the central Indian states of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, tribal village
life has resulted in a variety of artistically executed handicrafts. India’s mountains
provide opportunities for mountaineering and trekking. Beaches provide lazy sun
bathing as well as wind surfing and snorkeling and its jungles provide shooting
wildlife. India’s natural beauty and its geographic location can be compared with
that of any other country in the world and its rich heritage makes it unique in the

India is one of those rare countries, which has a wonderful blend of all the
resources essential to make it as a golden star on the Tourism map of the world.
India’s glorious tradition and rich cultural heritage are linked with the
development of tourism. Its magnificent monuments attract large numbers of
visitors from all over the world. India has an exceptionally varied climate ranging
from the extreme cold in high altitude and hot summer in the plains. Considering
the significance of tourism, 27th September is being observed as the World
Tourism Day every year. Tourism in developing countries mainly depends upon
its biodiversity. The quality of their natural environment gives many developing
countries a comparative advantage in tourism.

Tourism in India is probably as old as its 5000 plus year old culture. The
post second world war period saw an unprecedented growth in international
tourism. Tourism, unlike other development options such as manufacturing,
mining, forestry etc was widely perceived to be a clean and renewable industry.
Because it drew upon ‘free’ natural, historical, social and cultural resources it was
thought to be less capital intensive in its requirements for development. Tourism,
as it is known today; began in India only after 1946, following the
recommendations of the Sargent Committee. It was only after the 1980’s tourism
activity gained momentum in India. In India tourism and its development in an
organised manner has received attention over 45 years only. The significant
development that took place was setting up of the Indian Tourism Development
Corporation in 1966 to promote India as a tourist destination and the Tourism
Finance Corporation in 1989 to finance tourism projects. Altogether, 21
Government-run hotel management and catering technology institutes and 14 food
craft institutes were also established for imparting specialised training in
hoteliering. The Ministry of Tourism is the nodal agency for the development and
promotion of tourism in India and catering. In the year 1986, Tourism has been
declared as ‘Tourism Industry’ by the government of India. On March 4, 1993, the
United Nations Statistical Commission adopted WTO’s (World Tourism
Organisation’s) recommendations on tourism.

Ecotourism has received much attention in recent years especially within

the developing world. Ecotourism in simple terms means management of tourism
and conservation of nature in a way so as to maintain a fine balance between the
requirements of tourism and ecology on the one hand and needs of the local
communities for jobs, new skills, income generating employment and a better
status for women on the other. Tourism policy provides the guidelines, goals and
objectives and tourism planning is the process of identifying objectives and
defining evaluations.

In India the emergence of alternative tourism promotes natural and cultural

events and others. Few promising alternative tourism paths include green tourism,
ecotourism, eco cultural tourism, heritage tourism etc. Ecotourism developed in
India in 1970s and 1980s. Ecotourism was globally identified as a means of

achieving twin goals of bio diversity conservation and sustainable development.
Both short-term goals and long term goals can be achieved without sacrificing
one’s own interests. Sustainable tourism and nature tourism are umbrella concepts
that include ecotourism.

India, the land of varied geography offers several tourist destinations that
not just de-stress but also rejuvenate people. There are several ways to enjoy
Mother Nature in the most pristine way. The few places like the Himalayan
region, Kerala, the North-East India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the
Lakshadweep Islands are some of the places where you can enjoy the treasured
wealth of the Mother Nature.

The return on investment in tourism from the point of view of employment

generation is much higher compared to agriculture and manufacturing sector. The
table 3:1 reveals this:-
Table 3:1
Contribution of Different Economic Sectors to the Employment
Sector Jobs
Agriculture 44.7
Manufacturing 12.6
Mining and quarrying 2.6
Railways 0.9
Other transport 13.8
Tourism 47.5
Source: Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) Enterprise, Ministry of
Tourism, Government of India.
Table 3:1 shows the contribution of different sectors to employment in
2010. Comparing to other sectors the tourism sector contributes 47.5% to
employment. Agriculture is the second one. It contributes 44.7%. Other major
sectors are manufacturing, mining and quarring, railways and other transports.
Railways contribute only 0.9% to jobs.
The WTO and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) recognise
five key challenges for sustainable tourism and they are: -

• Managing dynamic growth, in the light of a forecasted doubling of
international tourist arrivals by 2020.
• Climate change, not only recognising the consequences for future
tourism planning but also the contribution that tourism makes to
global warming through pollution from transport emissions.
• Poverty alleviation, notably in rural areas where tourism can provide
only a small number of development options.
• Support for conservation from tourism spending given that protected
areas in developing countries receive under 30% of their funding
needs and many governments are cutting back on their support for
them; and
• Concerns about health, safety and security of travellers.
3.1.1 Atidhi Devo Bhavah
The traditional treatment of a visitor in India is based on the mythological
concept of Atidhi Devo Bhavah (Guest is God). This was the mantra of the Indian
tourism sector. The Tourism Ministry has launched the “Atithi Devo Bhavah”
campaign under an ambitious programme to attract more tourists. The concept is
aimed at capacity building for service providers and stakeholders in the tourism
sector to make the tourists aware of the benefits in India and the need to treat them
with traditional care and utmost courtesy. This has been further boosted by the
New National Tourism Policy, which revolves round a framework-Government
led, private sector driven and community welfare oriented. The tenth plan
approach to the sector was also aimed at ensuring that the tourist to India gets
“physically invigorated, mentally rejuvenated, culturally enriched, spiritually
elevated and feels India within him”. A countrywide awareness campaign for
sensitising the public against Garbage and Graffiti at monuments has been
launched under the title “Atidhi Devo Bhavah” for preservation and protection of
heritage monuments and tourist sites in the country.
3.1.2 Market Potential of Indian Tourism Industry vis-a-vis Global
India has a significant potential for becoming a major global tourist
destination. Tourism industry in India witnessed a remarkable growth over a
period of time. Since Independence, the country is stepping slowly and attracting

more foreign and domestic tourists from 15,000 in 1950 reached to more than 5
million foreign tourist arrivals with the growth rate of 9.9 percent during 2010.
The following achievements and contributions are enough to prove India’s
tourism potential in the global world:
 Travel and tourism is the second highest foreign exchange earner for India,
and the government has given organisations in this industry export house
 The industry is waking up to the potential of domestic tourism as well,
with a 582.1 million domestic trips in 2009 as against 236.5 millions
domestic trips in 2003.
 Export earnings from international visitors and tourism goods are expected
to generate 6.7% of total exports (INR 718.2 billion or US$ 18.5 billion
in 2008 growing to INR 2,750.2 billion or US$51.6 billion (4.4% of total)
in 2018.
 The contribution of the travel and tourism economy to employment is
expected to rise from 30,491,000 jobs in 2008 (6.4% of total employment
or 1 in every 15.6 jobs) to 39,615,000 jobs (7.2% of total employment or 1
in every 13.8 jobs) by 2018.
 Incoming foreign tourist arrivals have shown a 6% compound annual
growth rate over the last 10 years. Real GDP growth for travel and tourism
economy is expected to be 7.9% in 2008 and to grow at 8.6% per anum
over the coming 10 years.
3.1.3 India the 4th Most Favoured Country for Holidays
India has been ranked as the 4th most favoured country for holidays, above
South Africa and Switzerland, as per a survey undertaken by Conde Nast
Traveller Magazine. A reputed Consultant has been assigned the job to examine
the various aspects of tourism including existing policies, infrastructure, and
marketing strategies and prepare a plan for increasing the flow of foreign tourists.
The entry of low-cost airlines has provided a fillip to tourism industry. The other
catalyst is medical tourism. The number of foreigners visiting India to avail
quality and inexpensive medical treatment is growing day by day.
As per the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2009 by the World
Economic Forum, India is ranked 11th in the Asia Pacific Region and 62nd overall,

moving up three places on the list of the world’s attractive destinations. It is
ranked the 14th best tourist destinations for the natural resources and 24th for its
cultural resources with many world heritage sites, both natural and cultural rich
fauna, and strong creative industries in the country. India also bagged 37th rank for
its air transport network. The India travel and tourism industry is ranked 5th in the
long term (10 years) growth and is expected to be the second largest employer in
the world by 2019.
3.1.4 Hospitality
According to tourism industry, the country has about 1.2 million hotel
rooms of which only 7 percent or about 80,000 are star category. It is interesting
to note that the average duration of the stay of a tourist in Singapore is about 5
days as against 26 days in India, because of the vast tourist potentials that country
offers. The Tourism Ministry has proposed to create a “Land Bank” by acquiring
land for building hotels in public-private partnership on a built-operate and
transfer basis. The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation are
planning to set up 100 budget hotels across the country within the next two years.
3.1.5 The Five-year Plans and Indian Tourism
Tourism has been denied the priority it deserves over the successive five-
year plan periods because its potential as an engine of economic growth has not
been recognised. In the successive plans, the tourism sector was considered very
lightly and the government initiated not much effort and steps. It was only in 2002
that the New National Tourism Policy was formulated with very vast objectives;
mission and strategies. The New National Tourism Policy is based upon the
o Generating awareness about the benefits of tourism for the host
o Mobilise state governments to use tourism as a means for achieving their
socio- economic objectives.
o Encourage the private sector to enhance investment in tourism.
o Provide legislative and regulatory support for sustainable tourism.
o Protect the interests of tourism industry and consumers.
o Develop and promote rural/farm tourism on priority along with other
forms of tourism.

In the Tenth Five Year Plan, various factors responsible for the inadequate
growth of tourism sector, i.e., barriers related to approach, barriers that discourage
private investment, absence of legislative support, unprofessional and adhoc
approach etc. needs to be removed. The effective and early removal of these
barriers during the tenth plan is urgently required for the successful
implementation of new tourism policy and for the speedy growth of tourism. It
was only during the 7th plan that the tourism promotion activities found a place in
the functioning of the department of Tourism. The 10th and 11th plan laid much
emphasis to tourism. The country witnessed a Compounded Annual Growth Rate
(CAGR) of 3.18% in FTAs (Foreign Tourist Arrival) during 2007-2010, as against
a 16.93% growth during the 10th Plan period.
The 11th five-year plan outlines six key strategic objectives for Indian
tourism sector and they are follows: -
 Positioning and maintaining tourism development as National Priority
 Enhancing and maintaining the competitiveness of India as a tourist
 Improving India’s tourism products and further expanding these.
 Creating world-class infrastructure.
 Developing strategies for sustained and effective marketing plan and
 Developing human resources and capacity building of service.
The approach paper of the 12th five-year plan prepared by the Planning
Commission highlights the need to adopt “pro-poor tourism” for increasing net
benefits to the poor and ensuring that tourism growth contributes to poverty
reduction. There is a significant shift in the strategies of the 12th five-year plan for
deriving maximum returns from proposed investments in the tourism sector based
on the approach Paper of the Planning Commission.

3.1.6 Tourism in India-Emerging Trends

Tourism is the largest service industry in India, with a contribution of
6.23% to the national GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and 8.78% of the total
employment in India. India witnessed more than 5 million annual foreign tourist

arrivals and 562 million domestic tourist visits. The tourism industry in India
generated about US $275.5 billion by 2018 at a 9.4%annual growth rate. By 2020
tourism in India could contribute Rs 8,50,0000 million to the GDP (Source:
WTTC).Domestic and foreign tourist arrivals have increased substantially from
2000 onwards. In the year 2009, 5.11 million foreign tourists visited India.
Majority of foreign tourists come from USA and UK. Tamilnadu, Maharashtra,
Delhi and Uttar Pradesh were the top four states to receive inbound tourists.
Domestic tourism in the same year was massive at 650 million. Andhra Pradesh,
Uttar Pradesh and Tamilnadu received the big share of these visitors. The
following table shows the advance estimates of Indian tourism.
The table 3:2 shows the trend of Indian tourism in 2010:-
Table 3:2
Trend of Indian Tourism in 2010

No. of foreign tourist arrivals in India 5.58 Million

No. of Indian nationals departures from India 12.07 Million

No. of domestic tourist visits to all States/UTS 740.21 Million

Foreign exchange earnings from tourism Rs.64889Crore

Source: Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.

Table 3:2 shows the number of tourist arrivals - both domestic and
foreign - to India in 2010.Number of domestic tourist arrivals were more than
that of foreign tourist arrivals. The above table also shows foreign exchange
earnings from tourism in India. The annual growth rate is 18.1% in INR terms
and is 24.6% in U$ terms.
The table 3:3 shows the tourist arrivals in India from 2000 to 2010: -

Table 3:3
Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTA) in India from 2000 to 2010

Year FTAs in India Percentage (%) Change

(In Million) Over the Previous Year
2000 2.65 6.7
2001 2.54 -4.2
2002 2.38 -6.7
2003 2.73 14.3
2004 3.46 26.8
2005 3.92 13.3
2006 4.45 13.5
2007 5.08 14.3
2008 5.28 4.0
2009 5.17 -2.1
2010 5.58 8.1
Source: Tourism Statistics, Government of India.

Table 3:3 indicates that, the foreign tourists’ arrival in India shows a fluctuating
trend. FTAs to India have seen somewhat of a dramatic turnaround since 2002,
when a temporary declining trend was reversed aggressively. It could be observed
that, the share of India in world tourists’ arrival increased from 2.38 million in
2002 to 4.45 million in 2006.The number of foreign tourist arrival is highest in
2010 in the last ten years. The foreign tourist statistics indicates that, India has a
greater potential in tourism sector. The statistical description of foreign tourist
visits is discussed with the help of linear trend line.
The Linear trend line is given by

Y= 1.73 + 0.36 t

Where Y denotes the number of tourist arrivals in millions and the variable
t = year-1999. Here the trend line shows 0.36 million increase in foreign tourists.
Coefficient of determination is 0.93.
It is a measure of how apt this model fits the data.

The figure 3:1 shows the trend regarding foreign tourists’ arrivals in India: -

Figure 3:1

Foreign Tourist Arrivals in India from 2000 to 2010



1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012

The trend line in fig.3:1 shows the fluctuations between years in foreign
tourist arrivals. In the ten years from 2000 to 2010, foreign tourist visit is high in
2010 and it is low in 2002.
Table 3:4 explains the domestic tourists’ arrivals in India from 2000 to

Table 3:4
Domestic Tourist Arrivals in India from 2000 to 2010
Year Number of Domestic Percentage Change
Tourists Visit (Million) Over the Previous Year
2000 220.11 15.4
2001 236.47 7.4
2002 269.60 14.0
2003 309.04 14.6
2004 366.27 18.5
2005 391.95 7.0
2006 462.31 18.0
2007 526.43 13.9
2008 563.03 7.0
2009 668.80 18.8
2010 740.21 10.7
Source: Tourism Statistics, Government of India.

Domestic tourism plays an important role in overall tourism development

in the country. Table 3:4 shows that the domestic tourists’ visits increased from
269.6 million in 2002 to 462.31 in 2006. From 2000 to 2010 onwards the
domestic tourists’ visits shows an increasing trend.
This is statistically discussed below: -
Linear trend line is given by

Y= 119.09 + 52.183 t
Here 119.09 is intersept and 52.183 is the slope. Where Y denotes the number of
tourist arrivals in millions and the variable t = year-1999
Coefficient of determination is 0.985.
The coefficient of determination shows that fitted model is really apt for the data
regarding domestic tourists in India.

Fig.3:2 reveals the trend in domestic tourist visit in India: -

Figure 3:2

Domestic Tourist Visits in India from 2000 to 2010









1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012

The table 3:5 shows the foreign exchange earnings from tourism from
2000 to 2010:-

Table 3:5
Foreign Exchange Earning (FEE) (in Rs. crore) from Tourism in India from
the Year 2000 to 2010
Year FEE from Tourism in Percentage (%) Change
India Over the Previous
(In Rs.Crore) Year
2000 15626 20.7
2001 15083 -3.5
2002 15064 -0.1
2003 20729 37.6
2004 27944 34.8
2005 33723 18.5
2006 39025 17.8
2007 44360 13.7
2008 51294 15.6
2009 54960 7.1
2010 64889 18.1
Source: Tourism Statistics, Government of India.

From table 3:5 it can be seen that foreign exchange earnings generated
from tourism increased substantially. In 2010, foreign exchange earnings were
Rs.648890 million. Percentage change over the previous year was high in 2003.
The Linear trend line is given by

Y= 3543.94 + 5207.782 t

Where Y denotes the foreign exchange earnings in million rupees and the variable
t = year-1999.The linear trend line shows one year change over the other in the
case of foreign exchange earnings from tourism in India.

Coefficient of determination is 0.983.

Figure 3:3 explains the foreign exchange earnings from tourism in India
from 2000 to 2010: -

Figure 3:3

India's Foreign Exchange Earning from Tourism (in

crores ) from 2000 to 2010








1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012

Fig.3:3 reveal that in India, foreign exchange earnings from tourism show
the rising trend from 2003 to 2010. In 2010, foreign exchange earnings from
tourism rose by 18.1% over the previous year.

Table 3:6
Month-wise Foreign Tourist Arrivals in India during 2009&2010
Month 2009 2010

January 481308 490868

February 489787 600796

March 442062 471781

April 347544 354386

May 305183 344858

June 352353 369600

July 432900 452341

August 369707 381901

September 330707 368972

October 458849 486992

November 541524 606181

December 615775 655068

Total 5167699 5583746

Source: Tourism Statistics, Government of India.

Table 3:6 shows the month-wise foreign tourist arrivals in India during
2009 and 2010. From the table 3:6 we can see that the number of foreign
tourists were high in December in 2009. It was low in May. In 2010, the
highest foreign tourist arrival month was December. The number was 655068.
The lowest number of tourist arrival was in May in 2010 also. In 2010 the
percentage change over the previous year was 8.1.

Table 3:7
Tourists Coming from Top Ten Countries to India in 2010
Rank Source Country FTAs (in Million) Percentage (%)
1 USA 0.916 16.40

2 UK 0.755 13.52

3 Bangladesh 0.381 6.82

4 Canada 0.240 4.30

5 Germany 0.224 4.01

6 Sri Lanka 0.219 3.92

7 France 0.218 3.90

8 Japan 0.165 2.95

9 Australia 0.164 2.94

10 Malaysia 0.160 2.87

Total of top 10 countries 3.442 61.64

Others 2.142 38.36

All Countries 5.584 100.00

Source: Bureau of Immigration, Government of India.

Table 3:7 gives a clear-cut picture about the tourist arrivals from top ten
countries to India in 2010. It is clear from the data that the share of countries
such as USA and UK were 16.40 percent and 13.52 percent respectively. The
lowest share was contributed by Malaysia.

Table 3:8
Share of Top 10 States/UTs of India in the Number of Domestic Tourist Visit
in 2010
Rank State/UT Domestic Tourist Visits in 2010
Number Percentage (%)

1 Andra Pradesh 155789584 21.0

2 Uttar Pradesh 144754977 19.6

3 Tamil Nadu 111637104 15.1

4 Maharashtra 48465492 6.5

5 Karnataka 38202077 5.2

6 Madhya Pradesh 38079595 5.1

7 Uttarakhand 30206030 4.1

8 Rajasthan 25543877 3.5

9 West Bengal 21072324 2.8

10 Gujarat 18861296 2.5

Total of top 10 states 6326123561 85.5

Others 107601941 14.5

Total 740214297 100.0

Source: State/UT Tourism Departments.
Table 3:8 shows the share of top ten states in India with respect to the
number of domestic tourist visits in 2010. The highest contribution is made by
Andhra Pradesh (21.0%) and the lowest contribution is made by Gujarat
(2.5%). Uttar Pradesh made the second highest contribution (19.6%).

Table 3:9
Share of Top 10 States/UTs of India in the Number of Foreign Tourist
Visit in 2010

Rank State/UT Foreign Tourist Visits in 2010

Number Percentage (%)


1 Maharashtra 5089126 28.5

2 Tamil Nadu 2804687 15.7

3 Delhi 1893650 10.6

4 Uttar Pradesh 1675123 9.4

5 Rajasthan 1278523 7.2

6 West Bengal 1192187 6.7

7 Kerala 659265 3.7

8 Bihar 635722 3.6

9 Himachal Pradesh 453616 2.5

10 Goa 441053 2.5

Total of top 10 states 16116952 90.3

Others 1735825 9.7

Total 17852777 100.0

Source: State/UT Tourism Departments.

Table 3:9 shows the share of top ten states in India with respect to foreign
tourists. It is slightly higher than 90 percent of the total foreign tourist visits in
India. Maharashtra is the number one state that attracts maximum foreign tourists
in India. Tamil Nadu occupies the second position. Both Goa and Himachal
Pradesh shared 2.5%. Kerala’s share is 3.7%.

3.2 Importance of Eco-Tourism in India

In the words of Mark Twain, ‘India is a fabulous world of splendour and

rags, the one country under the sun with an imperishable interest, the one land that
all men desire to see’. The diversity of wildlife in India is as rich as those of the
flora and fauna found only in Africa. The great wealth of Indian wildlife can be
imagined with the sight of the majestic elephants, the dance of the peacock, the
camel’s stride, the roar of the lion are unparalleled acts of beauty. The vastness of
the wildlife and wilderness in India is unparalled in the world. This accounts for
the immense opportunities for wildlife tourism in India. Ecotourism development
has entered an exciting phase in North India. The Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and
the Bay of Bengal offer a very large coastline.

India is one of the 12-mega bio-diverse countries of the world and has a
rich cultural heritage too. It has a vast potential for ecotourism that needs to be
tapped for healthy conservation and preservation of nature and bringing about
economic benefits to the local communities. Ecotourism in India has developed
recently, for the concept itself is a relatively new one. India has spectacularly
attractive natural and cultural tourist attractions. India offers enormous diversity in
topography, natural resources and climate. There are land-locked mountainous
regions, lush valleys and plains, white sandy beaches and islands. Central India
has numerous wildlife sanctuaries with countless varieties of flora and fauna.

The most significant feature of the ecotourism industry in India is its

capacity to generate large-scale employment opportunities, particularly in remote
and underdeveloped area. It offers enormous potential for utilising natural
resources like landscapes, mountains, bio-diversity areas, rivers etc for the benefit
of people.

Ecotourism is not only a travel statement; it gives the message of our

relationship with nature and its own inhabitants. India became a very common
name for ecotourism, because of its natural resources and beauty. Ecotourism
focuses on Indian local cultures, wilderness, adventures, and environmental
protection. In India the movement is gathering momentum with more travel and
travel related organisations for addressing the needs of the eco tourists and
promoting ecotourism in the country.
As a concept ecotourism has gained momentum recently in India, but as a
way of life Indians has practiced ecotourism since times immemorial by their
traditional approach to nature and rich cultural heritage. The immense popularity
of ecotourism in India stems from the fact that people are becoming increasingly
conscious of the environmental hazards and the importance of the existence of
diverse flora and fauna. The ecological diversity of India is arguably the most
varied in the world. Ecotourism does not disturb or modify the actual biodiversity
of India; it only popularises the secluded parts of India.

Ecotourism in India is a niche industry that has mainly developed in the

past few years. Ecotourism is largely based on the concept of sustainable tourism
or eco-friendly tourism. It has often been the case with the tourist destinations in
India where the ecological balance of a fragile area has degraded drastically due to
the pressure of tourism. Hence, the country is trying to promote tourism in a
manner in which it generates considerable revenue without disturbing the delicate
eco-system in the region. This type of tourism is extremely essential for India
considering that it has one of the richest biodiversities in the world.

The Indian topography boasts of an abundant source of flora and fauna.

India has numerous rare and endangered species in its surroundings. The
declaration of several wildlife areas and national parks has encouraged the growth
of the wildlife resources. Today, India has many wildlife sanctuaries and
protection laws.

There are numerous botanical and zoological gardens in India, which are
working towards the enhancement of the ecosystem. There are severe
punishments for poachers, hunters and illegal traders of animals and trees. There
are several animal and plant rights organisation, which fight for the rights of the
animals and plants. Numerous organisations and NGOs are coming forward to
provide environmental education to common people at the grass root level.

Ecotourism is an attempt for sustainable ecological development. India,

the land of geographical diversities and wonders offers excellent options for
ecotourism. No country in this world offers as much geographical varieties as
India. India provides an unmatched range and diversity, justifying several eco-
tourism travel trips.

Ecotourism in India is gradually qualifying for attention of the tourists, the
government and entrepreneurs for obvious reasons. India has enough potential in
ecotourism to cater to the interests of the tourists. Ecotourism industry is one of
the leading employment generating sectors of India and it generates directly or
indirectly approximately 3.8% employment out of the total employment
generation every year in India.

India is full of topographical variations with amazing scenic beauty.

Mountainous ranges of Himalayas, golden beaches, impenetrable forests and
plenty of water bodies along with rich blend of culture provokes people across the
world to tour India. Ecotourism is the best way to enjoy the nature’s charisma
without harming it and for the admiration of nature’s marvels.

The following factors may be considered for the potential of ecotourism

industry in India:
• To increase foreign exchange: - Ecotourism is one of the important
industries that earn foreign exchange for a country without actually
exporting any material goods. The income from ecotourism has tended to
increase at a higher rate than merchandise export in a number of countries.
• To help in the development of infrastructure facilities: - Development and
improvement of infrastructure facilities are another important benefit
offered by the ecotourism industry. A variety of secondary industries may
be promoted which may not serve the needs of ecotourism. Thus,
indirectly; tourist expenditure may be responsible for stimulating other
economic activities of a country.
• To help in balanced regional development: - Tourism development greatly
benefits underdeveloped regions of a country. These economically
backward regions mostly have places of high scenic beauty which if
developed for the tourism industry, will help to bring a lot of prosperity to
the local people.
• To help in generating employment: - Tourism industry is highly labour
intensive service industry that generates employment for highly skilled,
semiskilled and unskilled labour in sectors like hotels, restaurants, travel
agencies, tourism offices, shops etc.

• To help in maintaining peace and understanding: - Tourism plays an
important role in promoting international goodwill. It creates awareness
and appreciation of other countries culture and nature.
A fundamental requirement for ecotourism to be practiced is control on
access to an area. Various hill stations or beaches therefore do not get categorised
as ecotourism destinations because it is impossible to control access to them.
National parks and wildlife sanctuaries are on the other hand most amenable to
regulate access and thus most suitable as eco-tourist destinations. The Protected
Area Network in the country therefore becomes the most logical starting point for
development of ecotourism. Most eco tourists are from Europe, North America
and Japan.

But National parks and wildlife sanctuaries wherever established have

often displaced local communities, especially tribals or have in any case restricted
livelihood options of the original inhabitants. This left the poor local communities
still poorer and often without a viable recourse. The imperative of conservation
has therefore to be balanced with the primacy of economic development of local
communities within or on the periphery of a protected area. Ecotourism can be
made a most effective instrument in bringing about the balance where local
livelihoods actually benefit from improved conservation unlike in the past.

3.2.1 North Eastern States have Immense Potential for Eco-Tourism


Government attaches great importance to the development of tourist

infrastructure in the northeastern region in view of immense tourist potential of
the region. The rich natural beauty, serenity and exotic flora and fauna of the area
in the eight states of the north eastern region are invaluable resources for the
development of ecotourism.

The national ecotourism policy and guidelines aim to preserve, retain and
enrich natural resources and to ensure regulated growth of ecotourism with its
positive impacts on environmental protection and community development. Under
these guidelines, the government has prioritised several projects in various parts of
the country. Assam has immense potentialities for the growth and development of

The Tourism Ministry has taken several steps including the setting up of a
Chapter of Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management at Guwahati on
the basis of sound ecotourism principles. Table 3:10 indicates the tourist statistics
(both foreign and domestic) in 2009 and 2010: -

Table 3:10
State-wise Domestic and Foreign Tourist Arrival in North East
States Domestic Foreign Domestic Foreign
(2009) (2010) (2009) (2010)
Assam 3436833 12899 3617306 14426

Arunachal Pradesh 91100 2212 149292 3020

Manipur 101484 396 112151 354

Meghalaya 457685 5267 549936 4919

Mizoram 43161 669 55924 902

Nagaland 22085 936 21129 1209

Sikkim 329075 17498 460564 19154

Tripura 244795 3181 245438 3577

India 526564364 1326724 562915569 1411250
Source: Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.

3.2.2 Forest, Biodiversity and Land Use in India

Great variation in climatic condition has given appearance to variety of

forest types including tropical and sub-tropical forests in the Western Ghats and
Eastern Himalaya, temperate and alpine forests in central and western Himalayan
and desert forests in the arid and semi-arid regions of the county. According to
Forest Survey of India (2003), about 6,78,333 km, constituting 20.64% of its
geographical area is under forest cover in the country. Very dense forest (VDF)
however accounts for only 1.56% while the moderately dense forest (MDF) and
open forest account for 10.32% and 8.76% respectively. The total forest and tree
cover of the country is estimated to account for 23.68% of the country’s land.

India contains a great wealth of biodiversity in its forests, wetlands and
marine areas. The country has 7% of the mammals, 12.6% birds, 62% reptiles,
4.4% amphibians, 11.7% fishes and 6% plants of the world. The Western Ghats
and Eastern Himalayas are biodiversity hotspots. The faunal species of India is
estimated to be about 81,000, representing about 6.4% world’s fauna. The number
of plant species in India is estimated to be over 45,000 representing about 7% of
world’s flora including 1228 bird, 428 reptile, 372 mammal, 204 amphibian and
2546 fish species. India is home to 14 biosphere reserves, of which 3 are in the
world network of biosphere reserve viz. Sundarbans, Gulf of Mannar and Nilgiri.

3.3 Major Eco-Tourism Destinations in India

A brief discussion of the important ecotourism locations in India comes

under the following head: -

Eco-Tourism in Kerala-A paradise for tourist

Kerala, which is known as ‘God’s Own Country’ is situated in the lap of

southwestern coast of India. Eco-visitors found Kerala as a green heaven. Sandy
beaches, tropical dense forests etc. enhance the natural attraction to the nature
lovers. Here we can witness several animal species and thousands of plant species.
The Nilgiri mountain range will definitely draw tourist’s attention. There are
many wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala. In Kerala, tourism activities are mainly based
on nature and its facilities. The first planned ecotourism destination in Asia was
the Thenmala Ecotourism Project in Kerala.Idukki is one of the districts in Kerala,
which has abundance of wide scale tourist attractions. There is wide scope for
ecotourism in Idukki.

Sundarban Eco-Tour- World’s largest natural delta

In West Bengal, Sundarban is a place that introduces us the real meaning

of ecotourism. The world’s largest natural delta is a name of Royal Bengal Tigers.
Wildlife sanctuary, bird sanctuary, crocodile projects are the main attractions for
the eco-visitors. The tidal rivers, water channels, large mangrove trees etc. will
give us the feeling of adventure with the essence of freshness. The mangrove
swamp in the south of West Bengal is the place where the Royal Bengal Tigers
rule. These majestic big cuts are fascinatingly beautiful and extremely dangerous.

Unfortunately these animals are now on the verge of extinction. This marsh land
has become a sanctuary for these magnificent creatures in yellow and black strips.
Deer, antelopes, gaur and wild pigs also have made this marsh land their home.

Goa Eco-Tour

Goa is a place where the visitors can have the real feeling of enjoyment
and fun with the package of ecotourism. Goa is a combination of natural resources
and our rich heritage. The churches, temples, monuments, forts will tell us the
story of history. The beaches, wildlife and national park will introduce us to the
natural magic of Goa. The carnival and cuisines of Goa adds the extra flavour to
the eco-visitors. Goa is making keen efforts to develop ecotourism by developing
interior green spots like water falls, sanctuaries and lakes.


The whole mountain range of North India will give the tourists a perfect
picture of an eco-tour. Several places like Kulu, Manali, Ladak, Dharmashala,
Dalhosi etc are specially known for its natural beauty to the nature lovers. The
eco-visitors can witness the magical glow of sunrise and sunset from the different
corner of mountain range. Himalaya ranges are famous for trekking and camping.
In different colours, shapes and heights, valleys of mountains impress the eco-
visitors by their inherent qualities.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are the garden of natural beauties and
an attractive spot for nature lovers. The animals, marine life, plants make
themselves alive in the deep water of the Bay of Bengal. The fresh and clean
environment, well-maintained road attract all the eco tourists from all over the
world to this place. These Islands are covered by dense jungles and surrounded by
several coconut trees. Here adventure plays the key role to buildup the relation
between the nature lovers and nature.


The scenic beauty of this hill station is unmatched. Exploring this hill
station and its natural possession, world famous waterfalls, Iruppu and Abbey and

Nagarhole National park are worth making one’s ecovacation extremely


Snow capped mountains, beautiful meadows, serenelakes and dense forests

offering amazing wildlife view are some of the embedded geographical features of
this Northern region of country.


The whole beauty of this small place is assembled in its beauty of

untouched serene and virgin lakes and caves, which are full of offering diverse
range of eco-adventure. This place is situated in Tamilnadu.


With the joy of trekking in the second highest peak of the world,
Kanchenjunga, exploring the Rhododendron trek and beautiful land of orchid,
Sikkim is unmatched anywhere else in the world.


Fine opportunity to enjoy excursion like Oak and Rhododendron forest

exploration, Sking and ice-skaling and Himalayan sightseeing make this small hill
station one of the most favourite vacationing spots for domestic as well as
international tourists.


Constituting the two naturally rich regions: Tumaon and Garhwal, this
Northern state is full of spots offering tourists many of the salubrious, pleasant
and adventurous activities like trekking, birding and river rafting.

Corbett National Park

Corbett National Park is the first of its kind in India. This beautiful
sanctuary at the foothills of the Himalayas is a flourishing place for the flora and
fauna. The Corbett National Park is only 145km away from Lucknow and 51km
from Ramnagar. This 201 sq. mile Park is plenty of deer and wildboars. With 110

species of trees, 50 species of mammals and 580 species of birds, the park is the
ultimate ecotourism destination for all the animal lovers across the world.

Chennai Crocodile Bank

Chennai Crocodile Bank shelters seven species of crocodiles. Occupying

an area of 3.2 hectare, this is also the largest crocodile-breeding centre in India.
Located 42km away from the coast of Chennai, the sanctuary plays host to a
number of Indian and African crocodiles and alligators. This bank has produced
more than 6000 crocodiles. There is also a large reserve of venomous and non-
venomous snakes. These fearsome predators need the wilderness to flourish and
this is just the place that is perfect for their habitation. The crocodile bank is 35km
south of Chennai and is situated besides the scenic East Coast Highway.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary also called Ghana Bird Sanctuary is spread over
an area of place is a fantasy in feathers. The best time to visit this
place is between the months of August and October.

Gir National Park

Home of the Asiatic lion, this beautiful place on the west of India in the
state of Gujarat is one of the most popular tourist destination. It is a big game
watchers paradise. Home to one of the rare species in the world, Gir holds a
position of great importance in the ecotourism map of India because the fearsome
predators that it hosts. Sprawling over 3386, Gir National Park has a
remarkable mix of deciduous forest along with teak acacia and banyan. This is a
protected area.

Keoladeo National Park

Keoladeo National Park is situated in Bharatpur district in eastern

Rajasthan that lies in Indus-Ganges monsoon forest biogeographical province with
a total area of 2,873 hectares. The park is an unrivalled breeding site for herons,
storks and cormorants and an important wintering ground for large number
migrant ducks. There exist varied tourist facilities at the park. It includes visitor
center, forest lodge hotel, picnic areas, food services, rest room facilities, boating

platform etc. The picnicker, casual tourists, adventure tourist, ornithologists and
photographers constitute the major types of the tourists. More than one lakh
tourists visit the park annually.

Table 3:11 lists the other major ecotourism sites in India:-

Table 3:11
Major Eco - Tourism Sites in India

Eco Parks Eco Place Eco Fauna

Kanala Bird Sanctuary Rabangla Rufous-Necked Hornbill
Parambikulam Wildlife Chilka Lake Himalyan Tree Pie
Bheemeshwari Wildlife Sangla Valley Red-Billed Blue Mag pie
Similipal Tiger Reserve Naggar Red Fox
Namdapha National Park Dalhousie Himalayan Black Bear
Neoravalley National Rishikesh Scarlet Miniet
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary The Floating Islands Blue Mormon
Periyar Sanctuary Nokrek Biosphere Blue Whistling Thrush
Bandipur National Park Tawang Pass Himalyan Goral
Sariska Tiger Reserve Simonga Himalayan Griffon
Ranthambhore National Coorg Himalayan Musk Deer
Corbett National Park Coonor Himalayan Snow Cock
Kanha Tiger Reserve Mahabalipuram Hoolock Gibbon
Dachigam National Park Sela Pass Lammer Geier
Dudihwa National park Sonamarg Malayan Giant Squirrel
Nagarhole National Park Kumbhalyarh Raven
Silent Valley National Mount Abu Serow
Pachmarhi Yellow Throated Marten
Lava and Lolaygaon
Thirparappu Falls

Table 3:12 depicts the important eco destination, ecotrivia and eco flora in
India: -
Table 3:12
Eco-Destination, Eco Trivia and Eco Flora in India

Eco – Destination Eco Trivia Eco Flora

Ladak Edakkal Caves Chigoza
Nisargadhama Karla Caves Cobra Plant
Amboli Western Ghats Cortigao Wildlife Sanctuary

Khekranala Lokpal or Deodar

Karwar Namola Pha’s Himalayan Yew
Volaghar Tami Tea Estate Karvi Bushes
Andaman and Nicobar Stinging Nettles Magical World of Ferns
Mussoorie Trees
Shola Forests
Warm Wood
World Tallest Rhododendron
The main eco-treks and eco-adventures are mentioned in table 3:13: -

Table 3:13
Eco-Treks and Eco-Adventures in India

Eco Treks Eco Adventures

Wayanad Treks Bungee

Brahmagiri Treks Jumping

The Tala Thmane Circuit Hiking

Bada Budanagiri Hills Paragliding

Koda Chadri, Mahabaleshwar River Rafting

Rubi – Bhaba Wild Life Sanctuary

Bhrigu Lake

Table 3:14 lists the important hill stations in India: -
Table 3:14
Hill Stations in India
State Name of Hill Station
Himachal Pradesh Chail, Chamba, Dalhousie, Dharamshala, Kasauli,
Kangra, Kullu, Manali, Naldehra, Parwanoo, Shimla
Jammu and Kashmir Gulmarg, Jammu, Patnitop, Sonamarg, Srinager
Jharkhand Ranchi
Kerala Munnar, Nelliyampathy, Wayanad, Devikulam,
Peermade, Ponmudi, Idukki, Palakkad
Uttaranchal Almora,
Madhya Pradesh Bhedaghat
Rajasthan Mount Abu
Maharashtra Mahabaleshwar, Panchagni, Lonavala, Khandala-
Karla, Matheran, Amboli, Jawahar, Panhala,
Sikkim Gangtok
Tamil Nadu Kodaikkanal, Yercaud, Kourtallam, Udhagamandalam
West Bengal Darjeeling

3.4 Eco-Tourism Resources of India

The geographical diversity of India makes it home to a wealth of eco

systems, which are well protected and preserved. These eco-systems have become
the major resources for ecotourism. In the following table each ecosystem is
discussed in some detail:-

Table 3:15
Indian Eco-System 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 microorganism in
representative eco systems. There are 7 such reserves in India at present and they
are listed in table 3:16:-

Table 3:16
Bio-Sphere Reserves in India

• Nilgiri
• Nanda Devi
• Nokrek
• Great Nicobar
• Gulf of Mannar
• Manas
• Sunderbans
Mangroves are much specialised forest eco-systems of tropical and
subtropical regions, bordering sheltered seacoasts and estuaries. The major
mangrove areas are listed in table 3:17:-

Table 3:17
Mangroves in India
• Northern Andaman and Nicobar Islands
• Sunderbans (West Bengal)
• Bhiturkania and Mahanadi Delta (Orissa)
• Coringa, Godavari Delta and Krishna Estuary (Andra Pradesh)
• Pichavaram and Point Calimere(Tamilnadu)
• Goa
• Gulf of Kutch (Gujarat)
• Coonapur (Karnataka)
• Achra/Ratnagiri(Maharashtra)
• Vembanad (Kerala)
Table 3:18 indicates the Coral reef eco-systems in India: -

Table 3:18
Coral Reef Eco-Systems in India
• Gulf of Mannar
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands
• Lakshadweep Islands
• Gulf of Kutch
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.
The Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal brace the sides
of the Indian subcontinent, except for the land locked northern boundary. The
landmass of India is crossed by several rivers and dotted by lakes of many places.
The water bodies provide attractive opportunities for water sports.

3.5 Promoting Eco-Tourism in India
The key players in the ecotourism business are Government, local authorities,
developers and operators, visitors and 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, governmental
organisations and scientific and research institutions also have to play key role in
development of ecotourism.
Special officers have been designated to coordinate activities regarding
ecotourism. The Forest and Tourism Departments of the states like Karnataka,
Kerala, Sikkim, Rajasthan and Andra Pradesh have specifically announced a
policy for the development of ecotourism laying special emphasis to the
involvement of the local communities.
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 concernd. 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 programme for ecotourism centres should include
controlled access points, roads, self-guided nature trails, transportation options,
interpretation centers, signs 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
3.5.1 Chanting the Eco-Tourism Mantra in India
The diverse geographical features of India are enriched with hundreds of
tourist destinations. No matter, which region you explore almost every part of the
country is laden with numerous spots giving tourists wide range of ecotourism
places to explore.
Whether one is exploring the monasteries and Himalayan glaciers of
Ladakh in Northern part or roaming through rich coffee plantation and world
famous Kerala backwater in south or enjoying the arduous trekking in
Kanchenjunga in North-East or taking a desert camel safari tour in their desert in
western part of the country, the ecotourism spots are pervaded everywhere. Many

of them lying still in the pristine lap of mother lap guarantee its visitors to fetch
them a unique view of their natural richness.
The diversity of the wildlife in India is as rich as those of the flora and
fauna found only in Africa. Traditionally, India has sought to protect its
biodiversity through a Protected Area Network (PAN) consisting of 590 protected
areas, including 90 National Parks and 500 Wildlife Sanctuaries spread over 4.7%
of the geographical area. India houses three-fourth of the world’s tigers in its
Tiger Reserves.
The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, has constituted two
awards in the field of ecotourism. One is the best eco-friendly tourism project/
organisation, and the other is the most innovative unique tourism project.
3.6 Forms of Eco-Tourism in India
There are various forms of ecotourism in India that attract an increasing
number of tourists each year. Some of the most prominent forms include wildlife
tourism, agro tourism, and village tourism and so on. Of this, wildlife tourism is
emerging as one of the most popular forms of ecotourism in India. India has an
unbelievable diversity with respect to flora and fauna and has some of the most
renowned national parks and tiger reserves like Kanha, Ranthambore, Kaziranga,
Corbett and Suderbans. Apart from this, agro tourism is making its own mark and
tourists are flocking to India to get a taste of the rustic rural life of the countryside.
India is fortunate to have extensive mountain ranges and coastal areas in which
ecotourism can play a significant role. There are activities at various levels that
assure the future of ecotourism in India, but there is clearly some way to go before
ecotourism is fully integrated into public and private sector strategies and
activities. In India, tourism related organisations addressing the needs of the eco-
tourist and promoting ecotourism in the country. Though green travel in India is at
its nascent stages, several environment conscious tour operators have slowly
started developing eco-friendly travel and tour packages for India.

3.7 Recent Initiatives in Eco-Tourism in India
• A project of ecotourism for development of Horsely Hill in Chittor district
of Andra Pradesh has been sanctioned.
• The project of development of Satkosi in Orissa (Rs.4.25 crore) has been
sanctioned in which interpretation centre; landscaping, elephant camps,
trekking park, watch towers and parking facilities etc. are proposed to be
• Ministry of Tourism (MOT) has sanctioned a project for development of
ecotourism in Morni-Pinjore Hills and Sultanpur National Park in Haryana
for which Rs 2.63 crore have been sanctioned.
• The project of integrated development of tribal circuit with special focus
on ecotourism in Himachal Pradesh has been approved for Rs.6.98 crore.
• Development of Wayanad in Kerala for an amount of Rs.2.01 crore.
• Development of Tourist Circuit (Western Assam Circuit) Dhubari-
Mahamaya-Barpeta-Hajo has been sanctioned for an amount of Rs.4.97
• Development of Mechuka destination (Rs.4.41 crore in Arunachal
• Development of tourist destination of Khensa at a cost of Rs 4.58 crore in
Nagaland Circuit-Udhyamandalam-Madumalai-Anaimalai, Tamil Nadu.
• Jungle Lodges and Resorts, Karnataka (provides experiences of living in
the wilderness).
• Private Initiative in Kerala-Casino Group of Hotels, Tours India Ltd
(adopted 2 tribal villages in Periyar Tiger Reserve for growing indigenous
pepper-used as USP and financial gains to communities).
• GEF Project-Gulf of Mannar, Tamilnadu (ecotourism as an alternative
method of livelihoods and preservation of the bio-diversity of the region).
• Sikkim Biodiversity and Ecotourism Project (developing collaboration
between TAAS, local orgs, and communities for biodiversity, conservation
and income generation).

• Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala-India Ecodevelopment Project (promoting
participation of local communities in biodiversity conservation through
incentive based mechanisms).
• Corbett-Binsar-Nainital Ecotourism Initiative, Uttarakhand (promoting
participation of local communities in biodiversity conservation through
incentive based mechanisms).
• Great Himalayan National Park, HP-Eco Development Project (promoting
participation of local communities in biodiversity conservation through
incentive based mechanisms).
3.8 Eco-Tourism Trends and Policy in India
The diversity in geography in India provides a wealth of natural areas that
could support ecotourism activities. There has been significant growth in tourism
sector, both domestic and foreign tourists, and the earnings being generated from
the tourism industry. Of the 2.35 million foreign tourists who came to India,
26.4% went for wildlife, adventure and beach tourism. The growing interest of the
domestic tourists- a phenomenon arising due to increased industrialisation,
urbanisation, disposable incomes and changing living styles and attitudes- to
nature based-tourism, bring more tourists to the natural areas. Resultantly, the
demand of the ecological areas as a product increased considerably. The Ministry
of Tourism is making all efforts to make India as more tourist friendly.
Ecotourism is a small-scale enterprise. The government through various policy
initiatives has acknowledged the significance of ecotourism. Both the Ministry of
Tourism and the Ministry of Environment and Forests have responded to the
development in the field of ecotourism with policy initiatives. Department of
Tourism issued policy and guidelines on Ecotourism in July 1998.The policy lays
down the objectives for ecotourism and contains operational guidelines for major
stakeholders. During 2000, Ecotourism in Protected Areas and Territorial Forest
Division was recognised as one of the fifteen thrust areas of the Ministry of
Environment and Forests. The Indian chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel
Association has formulated an action plan for National Ecotourism Policy, which
has been forwarded by Ministry of Tourism to state governments to review.
The outlook for travel industry in India looks extremely bright. Yet the
growth in market share to India still remains considerably lower than other
destinations such as Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Egypt. If the climate is not
conducive to ecotourism, it can never grow and flourish and which attributed to
some unfavourable factors.
The Ministry of Tourism is developing India’s first ecotourism model in
the valley of flowers in Uttarkhand with the assistance of UNDP (United Nations
Development Programme). In the south, Kerala has announced its eco drive
branding Kerala as an ‘environmental state’ to increase its international appeal.
The state’s department of tourism has presented hoteliers eco friendly guidelines.
‘Ever-green Kerala’ is the aim behind this drive. India houses three-fourths of the
world’s tigers in its tiger reserves. The government of Tamilnadu has announced
an ecotourism policy that will help to create awareness among the youth about the
importance of the state’s ecology. The ecotourism wing of the Tamilnadu Tourism
Development Corporation (TTDC) would set high standards of ecology to be
maintained by TTDC hotels, chalkout programmes for youth, so that adventure
tourism could be promoted along with ecotourism and recognise outstanding
organisations and give awards every year. The government of India is also
developing a nature and wildlife circuit in the central region, largely in Madhaya
Pradesh, and an ecotourism circuit in the Northeast region.
Several state governments have also taken policy initiative to promote
ecotourism. The government of Himachal Pradesh has announced a “Policy on
development of Ecotourism” in May 2001 with special focus on the involvement
of local communities. The government of Madhya Pradesh has announced an
“Eco and Adventure Tourism Policy” on 2001-2002 placing emphasis on the
involvement of the private sector. Forest Departments in Kerala, Goa, Karnataka,
Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim have designated officials to coordinate ecotourism
activities. Several state governments including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan,
Karnataka and Andra Pradesh have issued orders for recycling of entry fees from
protected areas for conservation and community development. The Forest
Corporation of West Bengal and Uttaranchal has initiated ecotourism activities
and the government of Kerala has launched The Thenmala Eco-Tourism
Promotion Society to develop a model for ecotourism. Recently, practioners and
interested individuals in Sikkim established the Ecotourism and Conservation
Society of Sikkim (ECOSS) with the objectives of promoting conservation and

ecotourism projects, research and advocacy. In the private sector there are
examples of eco-friendly concept hotels such as the Orchid Hotel and product
development by the Casino Group in Kerala.
3.8.1 National Eco-Tourism Policy and Guidelines of the Ministry of
Tourism, Government of India
The National Ecotourism Policy and Guidelines of the Ministry of
Tourism after considering the national policy on tourism has identified the
following cardinal principles for the development of ecotourism:-
 It should involve the local community and lead to the overall
economic development of the area
 It should identify the likely conflicts between resource use for tourism
and the livelihood of local inhabitants and attempt to minimise such
 The type and scale of tourism development should be compatible with
the environment and socio cultural characteristics of the local
community and,
 It should be planned as a part of the overall area development
strategy, guided by an integrated land use plan while avoiding inter
sectorial conflicts and ensuring sectorial integration, associated with
commensurate expansion of public services.
In the year 2002 the Government of India announced a New Tourism
Policy to give boost to the tourism sector. It has outlined the following policy
initiatives for the tourism sector:-
• The new policy is built around the 7-s Mantra of Swaagat (welcome),
Soochanaa (information), Suvidhaa (facilitation), Surakshaa (security),
Sahyog (cooperation), Sanrachnaa (infrastructure) and Safaai (cleanliness).
• The new policy envisages making tourism a catalyst in employment
generation, wealth creation, and development of remote and rural areas,
environment preservation and social integration. The policy also aims to
spruce up economic growth and promote India’s strengths as a tourism
destination that is both safe and at the same time exciting.

• The policy proposes the inclusion of tourism in the concurrent list of the
Constitution so as to enable both the central and state governments to
participate in the development of the sector.
• No approval is required for foreign equity of up to 51 percent in tourism
projects. Enhanced equity is considered on a case-to-case basis. NRI (Non
Resident India) investment is allowed up to 100%.
• Approvals for technology agreements in the hotel industry are available on
an automatic basis, subject to the fulfillment of certain specified
• Concession rates on customs duty of 25% of goods that are required for
initial setting up or for substantial expansion of hotels.
• 50% of profits derived by hotels, travel agents and tour operators in
foreign exchange are exempt from income tax.
• Approved hotels are entitled to import essential goods relating to the hotel
and tourism industry up to the value of 25% of the foreign exchange
earned by them in the preceding licensing year. This limit for approved
travel agents/tour operators is 10%
• Hotels located in locations other than the four major metro cities are
entitled to 30% deduction from profit for a ten-year period.
• The expenditure tax has been waived in respect of hotels located in the
hills, rural areas, and places of pilgrimage or specified place of tourist

The Indian tourism industry has not good since the early 1990s. With
global recession seeming to have waned decisively, Indian economy growing at
around 7% per annum and rise in disposable incomes of Indians, an increasing
number of people are going on holiday trips within the country and abroad
resulting in the tourism industry growing wings.

As already discussed, ecotourism has emerged as one of world’s largest

industries and the fastest growing sector of the economy. But in India, ecotourism
is plagued by a number of factors, i.e., Government apathy, poor infrastructure,
lack of professionalism, low priority accorded to tourism and so on. It is realised
that because of these factors, India has failed to explore its vast ecotourism

potential. With the efforts of central and state governments, various problems such
as poverty, unemployment, foreign exchange earnings, international peace,
regional imbalances, industrial recession etc can be solved to a large extent if the
existing ecotourism resources are fully explored.

3.9 Eco-Tourism in India: Some Major Issues

“Tourism has a tendency to become something like a steamroller wherever

it goes. It can completely destroy natural places. Ecotourism is about trying to
stop that”. The quotation tries to define loudly the scope of ecotourism in
comparison to mass tourism. Making a concept is much easier than its
implementation and it is quite practical if we say that achieving hundred percent
successes in any implementation program is inevitable. It is true with the concept
of ecotourism all over the world. Indian ecotourism industry is successful but
facing with number of problems, which are adversely affecting. There are number
of issues relating to ecotourism in India, which contradict the very principle of the

3.9.1 Environmental Issues: - One of the most disturbing facts about ecotourism
is that it is mainly promoting the expropriation of wilderness area, national parks,
isolated tribal areas and even the areas having no trace of any permanent
settlement. Tourists opting for such tourism often belong to the prosperous strata
of society and are capable and ready to pay for everything they wish, so
consumerism becomes focal theme here. Tour operators succumb to ever
increasing demands made by visitors and to facilitate and entertain them, they
build completely artificial landscape in the area, which have mega-resorts, luxury
hotels, and shopping centers. Such changes cost almost the entire eco system
dearly, many of flora and fauna species lose their natural habitat and in the long
run this may even lead to species extinction. Tourism competes with other forms
of development and human activity for natural resources, especially land and
water. The use of natural resources subsequently leads to the transformation of
ecological habitats and loss of flora and fauna. Land transformation for tourism
development can directly destroy ecological habitats. The use of resources for
tourism involves an ‘opportunity cost’ as they are denied to other sectors of
economic development.

3.9.2 Socio-Economic Issues: - Just because something is marketed as
ecotourism, it does not necessarily mean that the long-term motto of providing
socio-economic benefit with protection of environment to the host areas will be
achieved. The fact that ecotourism business are often owned and controlled by
outside interests in just the same way as mass tourism means the economic
benefits often are not used for the protection of the areas or to support the local
community. Besides, the carrying capacity of host areas is not calculated. As a
result, there is a breakdown of civil amenities during peak season when the influx
of tourists is tremendous.

3.9.3 Impact over Locals: - One of the basic objectives of ecotourism is to

engage local communities so that they benefit from conservation, economic
development and environmental education. While nearby inhabitants are most
directly affected by the establishment of parks and protected areas, they also stand
to profit by their conservation. Ecotourism deceives the locals in two ways. First,
their traditional economic and social structure undergoes a transformation towards
tourism monoculture. Secondly, the promise made to them to provide perennial
source of income and rational distribution of profit made is highly insincere.
Those locals get jobs but only of low quality, low valued and seasonal in nature.
They serve mostly as tourist guide, food providers, or souvenir vendors in the
locality. The lion’s share of revenue generated goes only in hands of organisers.
So it can be said that the cost of ecotourism is borne by locals and big players like
organisers make profit.

Tax paid by the tourist in India is the highest in the world compared to the
other Asian counties where the tax rate is between 3-6%. Indian hotels charge
about 40% tax. Another important factor behind the limited exploitation of the
tourism potential of the country is the deterioration of macro-economic central
panning to the level of micro-planning. Other problems are poor service, poor
advertisement, lack of infrastructure, lack of security arrangements, poor
management, improper implementation of the government policies, lack of co-
ordination between the centre and the state governments in the promotion of
tourism, involvement of too many intermediaries, a big gap between policies and
practice and so on.

3.10 Conclusion

Considering the wide geographical and biological diversity, the scope of

ecotourism in India is very high. If these resources are tapped successfully we can
transform the face of ecotourism industry in India. What actually needed is careful
planning and a target oriented approach. Ecotourism in India has flourished
because of the immense bio-diversity that exists nowhere else in the world. It
must, however, be realised that there is immense potential still to be tapped in
terms of making optimum use of the available natural resources. Well-managed
ecotourism can be hugely beneficial for biodiversity. There are some factors that
have promoted ecotourism in India to a great extent. However, India’s full
potential is yet to be realised and in the future years the country can expect to reap
some great rewards. Looking at the tremendous potential the ecotourism industry
offers in the field of its employment generation and foreign exchange earning
capacity, it is the time that Government pays urgent attention to the needs of the
ecotourism industry. It is believed that by 2020, tourism industry would be a
single biggest industry in the world. In this way, the ecotourism in India requires
to be developed by amending laws for attaining the objectives of sustainability.


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