Socio-Cultural Impact of Eco-Tourism

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Socio-cultural Impact of Eco-Tourism
Dr. Anjani Kumar

Abstract

Ecotourism is entirely a new approach in tourism. Born in its current form in late 1980s, ecotourism came of in age in 2002, when the United Nations celebrated the “International year of Ecotourism. Today’s market place is becoming greener and more environmentally sensitive than ever, with 85 percent of the industrialized world does citizen believe that the environment is the number one public issue. This attitude has evidently had an effect on the rise in popularity of ecotourism. Ecotourism has emerged as one of the most important sectors of the international tourism industry. It is a responsible travel to natural areas that safeguards the integrity of the ecosystem and produces economic benefit for local communities. The earnings from ecotourism industry results in socio-economic status of the host community.

Destination communities are the basic element of ecotourism. They are the focal point for the supply of accommodation, catering, information, transport and services. Over the last three decades, there has been growing debate on the magnitude of tourism in developing countries, and its impacts and implications in the host regions are enormous. Due to tremendous growth and its adverse consequences in the host region, the concept of tourism has now changed from mass tourism to ecotourism/responsible tourism/nature oriented tourism. Eco-tourism holds a very bright future in Uttaranchal (Uttarakhand) and has acquired great significance in the recent times but this potential has not been tapped effectively. Due to tremendous growth and its adverse consequences in the host region, the concept of tourism has now changed from mass tourism to ecotourism/responsible tourism/nature oriented tourism. Seeing this, the present study has focused on the perceptions of socio-cultural impact of ecotourism in Uttarakhand.

Keywords: Ecotourism; Local communities; Socio-cultural

Introduction

Uttarakhand Himalayas is a site of high biodiversity value, but is facing growing threats from a variety of sources including commercial logging, farming practices and tourism. The state of Uttarakhand is blessed with good forest wealth. Out of the total geographical area the forest area is around 61.1 percent. As concern grows over the loss of both natural and cultural heritage in this region, attention is turning to strategies, which seek to link conservation with tourism development and generate incentives to conserve the resources on which economic benefits depend. The numbers of foreign tourist arrivals in Uttaranchal have increased from 44 thousand to 86 thousand between 2001 and 2006 and domestic tourist arrival has also increased from 95 lakhs to 11 crores between the same periods No doubt, tourism has contributed to a fast rise in State Domestic Product (SDP) and employment in Uttaranchal. However, the benefits have not reached most of the poor and at the same time it has not been able to attract tourists compared to other hilly states.

Need and Significance of the Study:

Uttaranchal has immense ecotourism potential for growth of tourist traffic. It is undoubtedly India’s most beautiful canvas studded with green strokes, wild splash and quaint highlights. What makes Uttaranchal a holidayer’s delight are the sketches of Kumaon and Garhwal. Eco-tourism holds a very bright future and has acquired a great significance in the recent times but this potential has not been tapped effectively. As concern grows over the loss of natural heritage in the area, it appears that this is the ideal time to facilitate ecologically and socially responsible tourism at key destinations to conserve the biological diversity of the area. Therefore the present study evaluates the perceptions of socio-cultural impact of ecotourism in Uttarakhand.

Objectives:

The study has been...
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