Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2024

MoEF frames draft eco-tourism policy











To fill the regulatory vacuum in eco-tourism, the government is framing a new policy that will lay down guidelines and norms for tourism in protected areas such as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, conservation reserves and even territorial and revenue forests. 



The environment ministry is learnt to have framed a draft of the new eco-tourism policy after seeking inputs from states and it has been sent to tourism ministry for comments. The draft also says that tourism may also developed in areas such as mangroves, mudflats and wetlands. 



Currently, tourism activities are carried out based on management plans of protected areas approved. 



The new draft policy is largely modelled on the National Tiger Conservation authority’s 2012 guidelines for tourism in and around tiger reserves. The Centre has left it to states to decide on identifying specific tourism sites, ceiling on visitors and vehicles and infrastructure needs. But, it has laid down certain guiding principles that seek clear demarcation of inviolate spaces in the tourism area, exclusion of sensitive areas used for breeding by wildlife and has stressed on involving local communities as stakeholders. It has though not specified as to how much area should be open to tourism. 



It has stated that no permanent structures will be established in violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and homestead based hospitality should be encouraged. 



The policy has also asked state governments to charge a conservation fee for development of local communities, human-wildlife conflict management and conservation. The rate of conservation fee and tourist facility would have to be determined by the state government based on the scale of tourism designed at each place. 



Further, an umbrella foundation might be established to collect the funds from tourism. The policy has laid down a model to share revenue collected from the tourism activities. Local communities running eco-tourism facilities would be paid 40%, an equal share would be paid to maintain the tourism facilities while 10% each would be paid as incentive to local eco-development committee and as revenue to government. 



For coordination among state government, district administration, local communities and eco-development committees, a local level committee has to be set-up, the draft policy said. 



Each state also has to establish an eco-tourism development board that will supervise eco-tourism modalities and oversee implementation of the policy. 








Source: DNA