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Guidelines for Eco -             tourists

Hippocratic - "Oath Do no harm - The Earth is our homeland."

Sustainability means survival, livelihoods, and environmental services

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Himachal is bestowed with unique features in its climate, its rich natural and man-made heritage and above all, the warm and peace loving people. This is what projects Himachal as one of the top five tourist destinations in the country, both for domestic as well as international visitors. As per estimates, roughly around 60 lakh tourists visit the State every year, as much as its actual population. However much of the tourism related activities are concentrated in the four major hill stations of Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala and Dalhousie. Due to this lop-sided growth pattern, the bulk of the tourist does not get an opportunity to visit the ‘country side’ leave alone our forests and sanctuaries which are indeed a paradise for the discerning lot.

Himachal Pradesh has legally classified forest area of 37,033 Sq. Kms., which is 66% of the total geographical area. Out of the area designated as forests, 12% area is under Protected Area Network. The per capita availability of forests in Himachal is 0.22 hectares, against the national average of 0.06 hectares. According to the reports of the Forest Survey of India, Himachal Pradesh during the last few years has registered an increase of 1859 Sq. Kms. in the forest cover. This increase is about 9% of the culturable forest area of the State. A small State like Himachal, which has only 1.7% of the geographical area of the country, has contributed a remarkable 4.5% of the net increase in the forest cover of the country. In addition the State has 32 wildlife sanctuaries and two National Parks. The State is a treasure house, both for plants as well as wild life. It is also home to some of the rare and endangered species like Snow Leopard, Musk Deer, Himalayan Brown Bear and among pheasants, the Western-horned Tragopan which has been bred in captivity for the first time in the world in H.P.

The Revised Eco-Tourism Policy aims to bring the wilderness of Himachal closer to the tourist visiting the State and at the same time attempts to put in place adequate safeguards and systems leading to the preservation of these natural resources. By involving the local communities, the policy would help improve their prosperity through increased livelihood opportunities. It would also ensure adequate economic returns to the State which would be ploughed back into the environmental system for its proper up keep and maintenance.

The vision is to preserve and protect the natural heritage, both flora and fauna, of Himachal Pradesh and attract discerning tourists and visitors to the State; and in the bargain provide opportunities to enhance livelihood of the local people and alongside generate revenue for the sustainable development of its resources through the creation of a special purpose vehicle (SPV). The Eco-Tourism Policy would encourage a partnership between the SPV on the one hand and the civil society (local communities, NGOs, academic institutions and private enterprises/businesses) and the State (Forest, Tourism and Fisheries Department) on the other.

To make Himachal Pradesh a leading Eco-tourism Destination in the Country by 2010.

To achieve the above mission, the Policy seeks to pursue the following objectives:

Create appreciation, education and awareness of natural heritage of Himachal Pradesh. The State will emerge as a resource center and a leading destination with reference to eco-tourism for the entire country and the Greater Himalayan Region.
Enunciate mechanisms for partnerships in eco-tourism both with the local communities as well as private enterprise committed to the goals of eco- tourism.
Identify and promote activities in tandem with the principles of community-based eco-tourism with the benefits accruing to the local community in terms of income as well as employment generation.
Ensure safeguards from environment point of view to effectively regulate the ecotourism activities in forest area.
To generate resource through the Special Purpose Vehicle from the assets made available to it by the Forest Deptt. which would be used to create and maintain the assets.
To create a cadre of personnel within and outside the Forest Deptt. who are sensitive to the tenets of eco-tourism and can act as resource persons to further its cause.
To actively coordinate with the Tourism, Fisheries, Handicrafts, Culture, YSS, HMI (Himalayan Mountaineering Institute) and other related Deptts. to further the cause of eco- tourism.
To actively promote the concept of homesteads in rural areas connected with eco-tourism so that the income accrues to the local people.
To implement CBET (Community Based Eco-Tourism) concepts with the involvement of local communities, voluntary organizations, staff of the HPFD and other departments.
To undertake sustainable public-private partnerships with regard to Government properties in the field of eco-tourism with the ermission of the Govt. of HP and to raise funds there under.
To decongest the over-loaded tourist places so that the benefits of tourism are spread to rural areas. It will work in tandem with the Rural Tourism Scheme of the Department of Tourism.

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Last Reviewed/Updated : Monday, March 22, 2010