Ecotourism Policy is need of the hour: Ex Foreign Secretary

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Bangalore, Feb 26 (UNI) Former Indian Foreign Secretary Rathi Vinay Jha today stressed the need for a National Policy on Ecotourism to protect Forest Wealth and Environment.

Talking at a one-day Workshop on 'Ecotourism in Karnataka: Changes, Policy and the Future' organised by state-owned Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd (JLR) here, she said that a National Policy on Ecotourism can go long way in curbing mushrooming of Resorts which may pose a threat to country's forest wealth and environment.

Proper guidelines to restrict movement of people inside the forest areas was need of the hour to protect the depleating wildlife which was fast becoming endangered due to deforestation.

Ms Jha said that the tourism sector was growing at faster rate both domestic as well as abroad. However, it is important to maintain ecological balance with global warming causing concern of climate change.

P K H Tharakan, Advisor to Governor Rameshwar Thakur, in his inaugural address said that there was 75 per cent increase in tourist inflow with 9 million tourists (both domestic and foreign) visiting India in 2007, against 5 million in 2006. During the current calender year the figure may touch 12 million, he said.

"The increase in tourist inflow was mainly due to impressive performance, positive franchise created abroad by the Tourism Industry. However, developement of Tourism should be in harmony with environment", he added.

Mr Abjit Das Gupta, Secretary, Karntaka Department of Forest and Environment, said that JLR could spread to plantation areas and local traditional sites instead of concentrating more on forests.

JRL Managing Director N D Tiwari suggested formation of Ecotourism Development involving forest and tourism departments.

"JLR is ready to act as member secretary of the board. The board may also be entrusted with responsibility of certifying the Jungle Lodges with clear guidelines to protect forest and wildlife," he said.

UNI MSP RS GM1607

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