Living on backpacks & earning from nature

Living on backpacks & earning from nature

no takers There is a scarcity of talented and dedicated individuals engaged in research.

Ecotourism, a kind of sustainable tourism, is now a much-contested term ecologically, economically and politically. Ecotourism  in  essence  is  more  than  just  nature  travel  and  recreation.  It is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people. It has the following components:
* It contributes to conservation of biodiversity; * It benefits indigenous or  local communities;
* There is Minimum consumption of resources;
* Addresses site specific issues;
* It  Caters to small groups by creating small-scale businesses;
* It Includes an interpretation / awareness experience for tourists.

Significance
The field is socially pivotal as India has immense tourism potential. This provides a way for people to travel responsibly, to learn about and respect the environment of the tourist places.

Ecotourism professionals organise and execute an experience for travellers that demonstrates local environmental sustainability and cultural sensitivity .So, ecotourism can also be understood as a movement which encourages people to build a bond with environment and nurture it too. 

Acacdemic courses
Academic background  in Ecotourism is not a prerequisite for getting into this field. But still, to make the students aware of  the essential components for practising ecotourism, the impacts and current issues related to ecotourism, the Sikkim Manipal University offers a two-year Masters degree programme in Ecotourism through distance education.

Career Opportunities
Saroop Roy, Programme Co-ordinator in Equations, a Bangalore-based organisation for promotion of holistic tourism shares:  “Ecotourism, as an entrepreneurship model, would give all the opportunities you get from any tourism model. But there is scope for specialised jobs like naturalists and guides as education and interpretation to tourists is one of the key components"

Another avenue of work in this field is research. Tej Vir Singh of Centre for Tourism Research and Development (CTRD), Lucknow  says: “A researcher has to be well-equipped in the philosophy of ecological tourism" He strongly feels “only research based-tourism development can be sustainable which is real core of ecotourism”. The research directions can be based on the nature of funding being directed for tourism-based conservation projects and the success can be gauged through  the impacts of such projects on conservation and socio-economic dimension of that tourist place. So those who have flair for research can find this field immensely exciting!

Work Profile
Ecotourism professionals need to be immensely knowledgeable and possess problem-solving and innovation skills to implement various strategies. Kiran Desai, Senior Program Director at Centre for Environment Education[CEE], Ahmedabad says: "Eco-education is an interesting component of Ecotourism implementation and this can be done through appointing ecoguides and naturalists in that particular tourist place and also through creation of Nature interpretation centres". The nature trails and creation of  nature parks can help tourists to put environment and conservation in perspective and gain  a deeper awareness about the ecology of the place. They can also gain knowledge about the use of renewable energy resources like solar energy to conserve the non-renewable resources.

Hotels and resorts too can hire ecologists who can guide them about the right ecotourism practices. Rajesh Mudgill, Managing Director of Planet India Travels, New Delhi puts it as: "The tour operators can implement Ecotourism practices  by conducting camps in different places for the tourists and discouraging the use of plastic bottles and other products as it harms the ecology around.” He further states: "The tour operators can earn well starting from Rs15,000 a month with specific ecotourism packages." The growth trajectory is promising here with the rich knowledge and experience gained through the various field activities.

The road ahead
Ecotourism is gradually evolving in  India. “Future of ecotourism development in a country like India needs to be seen in the context of tourists, tourism industry and the incentive and promotion given by government to tap the potential of ecotourism for generating revenue,” says Saroop Roy of Equations.

So the passion to explore the nature and nurturing it can lead to development of innovation strategies to conserve and enrich the environment and this is what Ecotourism all about. So why not think about this verdant field as an off beat career?

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