Karnataka would soon bring out a new eco-tourism policy aimed at decongesting tourism hot spots and attract private investments.
Vinay Luthra, CEO, Karnataka Eco-tourism Development Board (KEDB), said the proposed policy is being finalised as per the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) directions. The policy would be announced before October 15, the deadline set by NTCA to all the state, he told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on eco-tourism.
"The Karnataka has been a leader in eco-tourism in the country through Jungle Lodges and Resorts. But our aim is not to allow eco-tourism to deteriorate into mass tourism in the forest areas. The KEDB would monitor, facilitate and regulate eco-tourism initiatives," he said.
He said, mass tourism can cause irreversible damage to environment, forests, wildlife and local culture. Hence the Forest department and KEDB will be stepping in to play the role of facilitator and regulator in order to achieve positive aspects of eco-tourism and control the negatives.
B K Singh, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests said the department would have to restrict people coming into Tiger Reserves.
He said, the government was not averse to allowing 'green resorts' that produce green energy and help conserve ecology.
The Forest Department and the KEDB today organised the one-day conference to discuss the eco-tourism strategy and announce guidelines to roll out ambitious initiatives to attract tourists.
Forest Minister Ramanath Rai said the views of tour operators will be considered when the government finalises the new eco-tourism policy.
"Eco-tourism is a new concept and Karnataka is interested in promoting it to attract tourists from across the country and outside and was in the process of identifying new spots. However, we will formulate guidelines to safeguard the environment which will be our first priority," he said.