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State govt wakes up to economics of ecotourism

Tourism and forest departments decide to regulate vehicular movement, waste management and construct green buildings at travel destinations 

To attract more tourists to the state, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is contemplating some sweeping changes. And ecotourism is the new buzzword. So, apart from regulating vehicular traffic at tourist spots, including seashore, the corporation has also decided to henceforth construct more green buildings.


Call of nature! The shoreline across Mumbai is littered with garbage that
is harming the beaches in the city. MTDC has decided to ensure cleanliness
at seashore to attract more tourists to the state.

Representaion Pic


In a first-of-its-kind initiative, MTDC and the state forest department have joined hands to make Maharashtra an enticing place to visit.
 
The proposal is to create policies in consultation with experts and stakeholders for regulating vehicular traffic at travel destinations -- especially in eco-sensitive zones -- for reduction in road kills and also activities on seashore to ensure cleanliness, safety and protection of marine life.

In sync with nature
"Tourists travel to places of natural beauty to experience fresh air and untouched environment, but cause pollution by unruly use of vehicles. Often, people who love watching animals and birds end up provoking them. This may hamper tourism potential of the place. Hence, to curb this menace it is important we regulate these things before it is too late," said Kishori Gadre, general manager, MTDC.

MTDC has now sought funds for making two popular hill stations of Maharashtra -- Matheran and Mahabaleshwar -- zero-garbage destinations. "It is a pilot project. It will start from Matheran and once we are successful the project will be taken to all other destinations," confirmed Gadre.

This is not the first time that a government department is planning to make destinations environment friendly.

In 2010, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) had decided that it would be mandatory for hotels, clubs and resorts to install sewage-treatment plants within their premises to help recycle 80% of sewage-contaminated water for non-potable use. The decision was taken when it was brought to the board's notice that 50% of this water was flushed into sea, affecting marine life and environment to a great extent.

Rub of the green
Environment is also the reason why MTDC has decided to henceforth construct green buildings by using locally available material.

"We will also initiate a dialogue on protecting the ambience built at tourist spots by using social media networks. Forest department is planning similar things and hence we have decided to join hands and make optimum use of resources," Gadre said.

Pravin Pardeshi, principal secretary (forests) confirmed that the department has collaborated with MTDC. "Our motive is to curb pollution and bring in more tourists to the city. Ecotourism is the need of the hour. For this we have decided to restrict vehicular traffic near animal reserves and forests. We also want to bring employment to villagers who can act as caretakers."

Come again!
The state of Maharashtra topped the charts of best tourist destination in 2010 for foreign tourists with 5.1 million visitors, followed by Tamil Nadu with 2.8 million, Delhi 1.9 million, Uttar Pradesh 1.7 million, Rajasthan 1.3 million and West Bengal 1.2 million as per data released by ministry of tourism.
The top 10 states contributed about 90.3% to the total number of foreign tourists' visit in 2010. Maharashtra attracted 28.5% of the total foreign tourist arrival, followed by Tamil Nadu (15.7%), Delhi (10.6%), Uttar Pradesh (9.4%) and Rajasthan (7.2%).

Did you know?
MTDC has launched its brand ambassador for sustainable tourism -- 'Greeny the Great'. Greeny, is a sapling, which will be used to depict how the behaviour of tourists is creating havoc for the environment to safeguard tourist spots.

Around ten short films on different themes like water and air pollution will be aired with Greeny as the storyteller to show tourists how they alter the surroundings of a tourist spot.

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