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| Last Updated:: 27/01/2016

Eco Tourism

 

 

|Eco Tourism    | Hill Stations   |

   

       Eco tourism means management of tourism and conservation of nature in a way so as to maintain a fine balance between the requirements of tourism and ecology on one hand and the needs of the local communities for jobs, new skills, income generation and a better status for women on the other. The world Tourism Organisation has defined Eco tourism as 'Tourism that involves traveling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with the specified objects of studying, admiring, and enjoying nature and its wild plants and animals, as well as existing cultural aspects found in these areas'. In total, the definitions focus on three significant aspects - nature, tourism and local communities. It differs in the meaningful ways from mass tourism that aims at consuming nature and leaving it depleted on more than one front. Eco tourism aims at promoting environmental values and ethics and preserving nature in its uninterrupted forms. It thus benefits wildlife and nature by contributing towards ecological integrity. The tourist have a firsthand encounter with nature and learn to admire it than to ravage it. Since the essence of eco tourism lies in admiration of nature and out door recreation, it encompasses a wide range of activities such as trekking, hiking, mountaineering, bird watching, boating, rafting, biological explorations and visiting wildlife sanctuaries.The key elements of eco tourism are

  1. A well preserved eco tourism site to attract tourists
  2. Cultural and adventure activities
  3. Active involvement of local people who are able to provide authentic information about nature, culture and their ethnic traditions to the visitors.
  4. Empowering the local communities to manage eco tourism so that they ensure conservation through alternate livelihood opportunities.

             India has a wide potential for eco tourism that needs to be tapped for economic benefits and for the conservation and preservation of nature. With the launching of the year 2002 as the International Year of eco tourism by the United Nations General Assembly, the global importance of eco tourism, its benefits as well as the impacts have received a lot of recognition.
 

Thenmala in Kerala

            Thenmala in Kerala is India's first planned ecotourism destination.Thenmala is situated in Kollam district of Kerala and is about 72 kms from Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital of Kerala. The Thenmala eco-tourism shares its resources with the famous Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary at the foothills of the Western Ghats. The word Thenmala in the local language Malayalam means 'Honey Hill'. It is believed that the honey collected from this region is of very good quality owing to its unique biological settings. Divided into different zones with a particular theme, the project area currently has three major zones viz. Culture Zone, Leisure Zone and Adventure Zone.

             At the Culture Zone one can indulge in a variety of activities like trying few traditional Kerala dishes at the restaurant there, a bit of shopping for memento sake, a peep on Kerala's art and culture, an amphitheatre etc. But the highlight of the Culture Zone is the open air Musical Dancing Fountain, which is a big attraction among the visitors. There is also a Tourism Facilitation Center in the Culture Zone to provide information on a wide range of tourism products available at Thenmala.

               Step into the Leisure Zone here we can try the boardwalk leading to the dam. The sway bridge here could be an exciting proposition, especially for children. Adding more variety and elegance to the landscape here is the Sculpture Garden, which has Man & Nature as its theme.
For those willing to test their adventure spirit would find the Adventure Zone in Thenmala quite a thrilling experience. Take the elevated walkway for a journey that winds through the canopy of trees and going over rocky terrains bringing one close to life at different heights. And still those who don't mind to give their body muscles a real work out can go for mountain biking, rock climbing and river crossing.

               Besides the zone-based activities for a visitor, Thenmala Eco-Tourism also offer other attractions, like an invigorating boat ride in the Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary; a visit to the Deer Rehabilitation Centre, where one can have a look at a group of spotted deer, the sambar deer and the barking deer, which have been given protection after straying out from the forests. The project area also has tree top huts and children's ecopark, riverside treks, and battery powered vehicle rides through the forest, enabling one to sight wildlife from a close distance.
             The State Govt. of Kerala has declared sixteen eco tourism hotspots in Kerala. They are Thenmala, Periyar, Parambikulam, Eravikulam, Aralam, Neyyar, Peppara, Arippa, Shenduruney, Gavi, Rhodovalley, Chimmini, Mankayam, Palaruvy, Konny and Thommankuthu.

Tips for Visitors

  • Total silence and discipline is required to spot wild animals.
  • Early mornings and late afternoons are the ideal time to visit forests.
  • Travelling alone is prohibited, especially in the Elephant Reserves.
  • Do not wear colourful clothes or perfumes. Khakis, browns and greens are best suited.
  • Always carry drinking water, tea/coffee, snacks etc.
  • Seek the assistance of a forest guard while going into the forests.
  • Do not disturb or tease animals.
  • Trekkers are advised to use jungle boots to ensure safety.
  • Carry a first aid kit with medicines for common ailments.
  • Do not litter the surroundings.
  • Do not remove anything from the Sanctuary.
  • Carry a notepad, flashlight, road maps, bus/train/airline timetables.
  • Do not try to explore unfamiliar things.

 

 

Ecotourism destinations of Kerala

List of eco-tourism locations in forest department

 

 

Source: Economic Review 2010

Dept. of Tourism, Govt. of Kerala - http://www.keralatourism.org/