The potential of tourism industry in India can be harnessed sustainably by promoting eco-tourism. Enumerate the steps taken by government in this context, also discuss the associated challenges.

Ecotourism can be termed as responsible tourism to the natural areas, which conserves the ecology and promotes well-being of people. It is one of the ecosystem services offered by nature.

Potential of Ecotourism in India’s tourism industry:

  • India has a very rich biodiversity and diverse physiographic features. E.g. the Himalayas, Sunderbans, Coasts, islands, biodiversity hotspots, hot deserts, cold deserts.
  • Attract more foreign tourist, as it is an untapped sector. E.g. Malta has more foreign tourists than India.
  • Creates more jobs and investments.

Challenges:

  • Safety concerns of tourists, especially for women travellers.
  • Lack of accommodation facilities for tourists.
  • Connectivity issues.
  • Environmental pollution. E.g. Plastic pollution in many ecotourism sites.

Steps taken by government:

  • Incredible India campaign to increase branding.
  • Launch of forest safaris in many reserves.
  • Recently, CRZ norms are relaxed to promote tourism.

World Tourism Organization states that ‘sustainable tourism’, can help in improving economic growth and protect environment. Hence, India should act to tap the potential of this sector.

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