Meet on eco-tourism policy on February 25

With increasing number of tourists crowding forests and with eco-tourism figuring in the recently announced Union Budget, an eco-tourism policy has become necessary for the state.

To address this, Dharthi, an NGO, is preparing the first ever eco-tourism policy of Karnataka for the Karnataka Eco-Tourism Development Board. The first consultative meeting in this regard will be on February 25 at the Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru. Stakeholders like Jungle Lodges and Resorts, locals staying around forest areas, owners of private hotels and resorts around forest areas, academicians, experts from other states, officials from the forest department and other government departments have been called for discussions.

Explaining the need for the policy, Freeda M, founder director of Dharthi told DH that it was being done to give a focus and direction to eco-tourism.

Karnataka was the first state to create an eco-tourism destination – Jungle Lodges and Resorts of Kabini – in 1980s.

Karnataka had prepared a document on the wilderness tourism policy drafted in 2004. After that, there were a lot of changes as the Eco-tourism Board was formed. The wilderness tourism policy addresses the inside of the forest. But eco-tourism looks at the inside and outside and it takes into account eco-sustainability, financial viability support from local communities and educating visitors.

Dharthi conducted a preliminary research of eco-tourism in the landscapes of Bandipur, Nagarhole and Bhadra tiger reserves in 2013. The outcome of the research was compiled into a book titled ‘Impact of Eco-Tourism in Protected Areas and Tiger Reserves of Karnataka’.

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