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Developing sustainable eco-tourism

Developing sustainable eco-tourism

The needs and demands of the modern times are far too many. As much as unemployment has been a constant for the past few years, the drudgery of employed life is one to occasionally warrant some carefree and unapologetic distressing. Travel is one such method and very popular among youth in particular. But given the uncompassionate lop-sided nature of a 'normal' city work life, popular tourist spots bear the brunt such 'destressing'. It was only few months ago that the famous hill station of Shimla had to request travellers to not visit Simla at all in that season owing to acute and unprecedented water crisis in the city. Ladakh is another example of how the place is paying the price for being a popular tourist destination; more than the revenue generated for development and other works, each tourist season ends with the fresh challenge of clearing out the garbage, most of which is discarded plastic of different kinds. Striking a balance between these extreme situations is a fast emerging environment- and people-friendly solution that goes beyond the purview of tourism and conserves the environment as well as the direct dependents of these environments. Developing sustainable eco-tourism encourages responsible travelling to natural areas and serves the dual purpose of promoting tourism and connecting people to distant and diverse places away from the confines of comfort while restoring an indigenous environment and conserving its ecology together with improving the well-being of the local people. With the funds generated by this method of ecological conservation, the local people from these regions, most of whom are quite nearly dependent on the environment for their livelihood stand to gain much. Home stays, being tourist guides, providing vehicles for tourists and doing odd jobs are some of the ways of modern dependence on an environment. The money thus earned can enhance ecological conservation, bring economic development, and enable political empowerment of the local communities and in the process, generally promoting sensitisation and respect for different cultures and human rights. Eco-tourism is definitely a critical endeavour in conserving the environment and biodiversity while still keeping it open for people to explore provided minimal destruction, environmental growth and general awareness about sustainable living is ensured. The result is bringing to attention and glorifying lesser-known places, their culture and their traditions. The entire effort is made with the purpose to explicitly not stress the environment while visitors distress themselves.

In line with this direction of sustainable growth, Maharashtra is seeking afresh to develop the eco-tourism sector by connecting close to 350 locations to a common grid for providing better facilities and developing popular destinations in the state. In the official statement, Maharastra's Minister of Finance, Planning, and Forests, Sudhir Mungantiwar, said that 43 destinations under the grid will be taken up in the first phase and the remaining ones in the second and third phases. The government has allocated Rs 351 crore for this purpose. Besides the iconic perception of Mumbai city for its glitz and Bollywood and fast city life, this eco-tourism project will include Mumbai's Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Maharashtra is a state endowed with the scope of a wide range of tourism right from historical haunts to coastal tourism with forests safaris and even spiritual tourism with ample prospects to explore. With the promise of employment for locals, the Eco-tourism Board of Maharashtra state has proceeded to implement various initiatives considering the wide range of aspects impacting and engendering from tourism, emphasising that this will be one of the major projects of the Board. The said circuit will include and connect 124 forest gardens, 43 historical forts, six tiger projects, 33 wildlife sanctuaries, 52 religious destinations, 55 eco-tourism destinations and five hill stations. The first phase will mark the development of 43 eco-tourism destinations, the second phase will include another 139 locations. Moving towards the realisation of this initiative, draft plans for 189 out of 347 eco-tourism destinations in the State have been approved. The local people are also to be provided with training and basic facilities. Provide better facilities to tourists will be possible if buffer and corridor areas of forests are developed from the perspective of tourism. Adventure sports the forts of the State is also an innovative use of the space and structure for more than history. Definitely, tourism is a sector of development that promotes way more than recreation. It has its effects trickling down on the economic, social, and environmental aspects of both, a destination and what a tourist returns with from this destination. One of the best steps taken in this direction is involving the youth in assisting the promotion of tourism in specific ways. Awareness about forests and wildlife help significantly with participation in the conservation and growth of forests and green areas. There are numerous examples of how ecotourism has contributed to restoring the environment while empowering the people of the destination economically, socially, and even politically. The story of Vengurla, a coastal village in Maharashtra, is a feather in Maharashtra state's environment hat as it is a living proof of how tourism is helping fisher women have turned entrepreneurs in preserving the ecologically very crucial mangroves in the backwaters of the region and are conserving the ecology they have inherited.

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