ECOTOURISM SOCIETY OF HIMACHAL PRADESHL
The society is an autonomous and independent body, with its main aim being to preserve and protect the natural, historical and cultural heritage of Himachal Pradesh; in order that it acts as a preferred destination for visitors and provides opportunities to promote Community Based Ecotourism (CBET) in Himachal Pradesh, particularly using latest approaches of Participatory Forestry Management, for sustainable development of the forests, thereby generating revenue for the State.
A harmony is to be fostered between the people, environment, conservation and development. This Society would work in partnerships between the civil society (local communities, NGOs, academic institutions and private enterprises/businesses) and the State (Forest Department, the Tourism Department and other related departments).
The involvement of local communities in the tourism (called ‘eco-tourism’ herein after) would support their livelihood needs and consequently create their direct stake in conservation of local culture, ecology and environment. This concept of ‘community based eco-tourism’ would go a long way in providing better income generation options to the rural people. It would also mean less dependence upon the natural resources, in so far as it amounts to removal of produce from these areas.
There would be, moreover, greater incentive in conservation of local traditions, culture heritage and environs, as these would be seen as aiding in local economy rather than being independent to it.
- Appreciation, education and awareness of the historical and cultural heritage of Himachal Pradesh. The Society would endeavour to make the State a resource centre and a learning destination with reference to eco-tourism.
- It would help enunciate mechanism for partnerships in eco-tourism and would identify and promote activities which are in tandem with the principles of eco-tourism.
- To develop the State of Himachal Pradesh as a shining example of Community Based Eco-tourism the world over. To promote community based ecotourism (CBET) which is ecologically sustainable, financially viable, culturally acceptable, and beneficial to the village communities and which encourages nature conservation education in the relevant places in Himachal Pradesh.
- To project the pristine beauty and natural environment of Himachal Pradesh to the world, while not undermining the resource base. Safeguards/regulators must be inbuilt to ensure that the laws rules/regulations of the Himachal Pradesh departments are followed in the right spirit.
- To evolve strategies for the development and the efficient use of the forest rest houses, forest inspections huts and other relevant infrastructure (camping sites, film shooting grounds, etc.) which could help in promoting CBET in local Panchayats.
- To organize activities particularly with educational institutions/school children in respect of disseminating information through workshops, presentations, paper- readings and essay-writing competition etc. in respect of CBET and its allied fields.
- To negotiate with other persons, institutions etc. for promoting and enhancing the CBET resources and networking. Inter-policy coherence must be inbuilt. The Forest Department Policy would be the main stay; with the Society ensuring that all eco-tourism and CBET work dovetail into it.
- To disseminate information on all matters related to CBET development in Himachal Pradesh.
- To advise the HP Government on all matters related to the development of CBET in Himachal Pradesh.
- To create, and or maintain such assets as felt necessary and to ensure that the private entrepreneur works effectively through the society. All efforts would be taken to ensure that all agencies—public, private and Government cohere and create required synergy to deliver the composite eco-tourism product. Both the circle and scheme approach would be followed.
- To pursue any other issue as stated in the REVISED ECOTOURISM POLICY 2016 of the Govt. of H.P.
‘Eco-tourism’, in a very broad sense, means venturing into and enjoying nature in such a way as to assure that negative impacts on the cultural and natural environment are minimized and mitigated. It is, therefore, ‘responsible’ tourism, which, besides being ecologically and culturally sensitive, helps the local communities in realizing social and economic benefits.
This Policy is based on the understanding that involvement of local communities in eco-tourism would support their livelihood needs and consequently create a stake for them in the conservation of local culture, ecology, and environment.
Eco-Tourism can be one of the most viable options for conservation of natural resources and sustainable development in a mountain State like Himachal Pradesh. It has to be executed mindfully, with the minimum impact to inspire cultural awareness, tolerance, and commitment to natural resource conservation. The following Eco-Tourism principles will form the basis of this policy:
Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
- Provide a positive experience for both visitors and hosts.
- Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
- Minimize physical, social and behavioral impacts.
- Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors.
- Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the local People
- Provide direct financial benefits for conservation and livelihood opportunities to local communities