Fundamentally, eco-tourism means making as little environmental impact as possible and helping to sustain the native population. Thereby encouraging the preservation of wildlife and habitats when visiting a place. This is a responsible form of tourism and tourism development. It encourages going back to natural products in every aspect of life. It is also the key to sustainable ecological development, to be aware of the environment.
Today, the ‘Green Laws’ of conservation are making people aware of how man and the environment can live symbiotically for more time to come and eco-tourism is the only way to maximize the economic, environmental and social benefits of tourism. Everyone is a stakeholder in the process. As aresult, we clearly need to avoid our past shortcomings and the negative impact that they have had. In India too the movement is gathering momentum with more and more travel and travel related organizations. The tourism industry is addressing the needs of the eco-tourists and promoting eco-tourism in the country.
Eco-tourism Policy of Rajasthan,2021
In July 2021, the Rajasthan State Government released this policy with the aim to generate economic benefits whilst conserving natural areas and attracting tourism to the state – this is an amendment to the original 2010 policy.
The policy defines Eco-tourism as:
“Tourism where the main motivation of the tourists is the conservation and appreciation of the ecosystems in the environment as well as the traditional cultures prevailing in natural areas…contains educational and interpretation features…minimizes negative impacts upon the natural and sociocultural environment…supports the maintenance of natural areas which are used as eco-tourism attractions by generating economic benefits for host communities, providing income opportunities for local communities and increasing awareness towards the conservation of natural and cultural assets.”
Permitted activities under this policy include:
- Trekking, nature walk, bird and wildlife watching, and flora and fauna photography
- Boating, river cruising to view wildlife and experience wilderness
- Overnight camping, star-gazing in designated sites/forts/monuments
- Travel focussed on experiencing Rajasthan’s fairs and festivals that promote eco-tourism and sustainability of local traditions
- Lodging in campsites, eco-lodges, homestays and guest houses that are located in an area of natural/cultural beauty and involves local specificities
- Activities in specified areas of the forest such as jungle safari in vehicles or elephant/camel safari, overnight camping in designated sites.
How Tourists can Support Eco-tourism :
- Using locally owned and run services .
- Using locally owned and run accommodation. Not only does the money from homestays directly benefit the community but tourists also gain an authentic insight into the region.
- Purchase any and all equipment and food from locally produced sources.
- Support local income generating and small business enterprises. This is possible by supporting locally owned transportation, shops and restaurants, and using local guide and staff services.
- Taking responsibility for maintaining and improving the environment.
- Provide financial support for local economic and environmental projects that will benefit the local communities and thereby actively encouraging local community involvement in the tourism projects.
- Elephant and camel rides are a big no no. Rides on these animals are especially popular for tourists in the state of Rajasthan. The manner in which elephants are treated in order to be habituated for humans is unethical and cruel. Therefore, we must therefore always avoid such thrills.
Responsible Eco-tourism Tips for Rajasthan’s Tourists:
- Water usage is not surprisingly an issue in the desert and you certainly do need to drink bottled mineral water. But packing vehicles with several plastic bottles just isn’t the way to go. Ask your tour operator in advance if they have a policy about this, so that you can bring your own bottle and refill it from large water containers
- Jeeps should never go over 20kmph in the national park, so ensure your driver keeps to that. Ensuring minimum noise levels provides peaceful environment to the wildlife.
- If you come across camel meat in Rajasthan, be aware that slaughtering it for meat is illegal in the state. Also, it means it is done under the radar. It was made the state animal in 2014 in order to try to highlight its importance and to put a stop to their dwindling numbers.
In a Nutshell:
Globally tourists know Rajasthan for its diversity in natural resources, cultural heritage, historical as well as archeological wonders and rare wildlife. Consequently, there is tremendous potential for eco-tourism in the state. As eco-tourists, we must strive to preserve local resources wherever possible. In addition to the tips mentioned in the listicle above, we must be aware of the impact of our money and choosing sustainable local businesses to spend our money on. Places we can support as eco-tourists are Sundha Mata temple in Jalore, Bassi in Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh in Rajsamand and Bhilwa’s Hamirgarh and Menal – which have all been developed as per the new eco-tourism guidelines.
Also follow Rajasthan Studio on Instagram for more amazing travel content. Reach out to us on email at contact[at]rajasthanstudio[dot]com. This blog is curated by Rajasthan Studio and written by Samira sarin.
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