Eco tourism vital for making tourism sustainable: Ambika Soni

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New Delhi, Dec 7 (UNI) ''Take back nothing but photographs, leave back nothing but footprints.'' This should be the guiding principle of developing sustainable eco-tourism in India, international and Indian luminaries in the fields of tourism and conservation suggested at a day-long meeting here today.

Inaugurating the meet, Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni said India is the flavour of the world today and its rich bio-diversity, endowed with vast forest cover, national parks, sanctuaries, wildlife, beaches, rivers and water bodies, is unparalleled anywhere in the world.

''We are conscious that through best practices of eco-tourism, we can promote sustainable tourism,'' Ms Soni said.

The minister also asked the diverse stakeholders from both the private and public sectors to hammer out long-term strategies for promoting sustainable tourism in the country.

The conference -- 'Horizons 2007 - Eco Tourism' -- was organised by CNN's Task Group in association with the Tourism Ministry, PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) and Air India.

Noted environmentalist Prof Ian Swingland said successful conservation of flora and fauna through sustainable tourism was a must and ''carbon sequestration can be an additional revenue generating platform.'' Prof Swingland said such an objective had to be realised by public involvement and educating the community at national and international levels.

The conference witnessed stimulating discussions on tourism and related issues, and was aimed to provide insights on eco-tourism based on successful models and best practices, both in India and outside.

The forum dwelt on how responsible and strategic tourism initiatives would offer benefits to future generations.

Some of the key sessions on the agenda included a case study of a country that has implemented a successful eco tourism model; eco labelling and the importance of marketing and a peek into the evolved, ecologically sensitive traveller of tomorrow.

Documentation will be formulated from the deiberations and policy discussions of the conference, which will be submitted to the Tourism Ministry for implementation.

Eco tourism is environmentally responsible travel to relatively undisturbed natural areas in order to enjoy and appreciate nature that promotes conservation, has low negative visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populace.

UNI

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