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Tourism in Kullu Valley
Problems and Prospects of Sustainability -
Ecotourism

 
by Ben Heron
benheron@ecosse.net

By reducing leakage, costs to the tourist may increase slightly, but costs to the community and the environment will decrease significantly - a small price to pay. To be a sustainable industry, tourism and its associated infrastructures must "operate within natural capacities for the regeneration and future productivity of resources – natural, social and cultural", and "recognise the contribution that people and communities, customs and lifestyles past and present, make to the tourism experience" (Parfitt).

Ecotourism is now the fastest growing sector in the tourist industry. It offers a sound alternative to mass tourism and attracts consumers who wish to enjoy more ethical, nature-based holidays. Although ecotourism can bring benefits to the environment and local people, it can also be exploited by companies who use the prefix 'eco' as a marketing ploy to increase interest and consequent sales. The majority of ecotourism tours offer trips into jungles, rainforests or other natural environments, but they rarely mention the involvement of local communities. If ecotourism projects are to be ecologically sound, they must recognize that most parts of the world have been modified, managed and, in some cases, improved by indigenous people for many centuries.

Tourism projects aiming to help conserve biodiversity-rich areas should therefore begin with the notion that they are "social spaces, where culture and nature are renewed with, by and for local people" (Ghimirie). In other words, for a conservation project to be successful, it should be developed, managed and protected by the area's local communities, not by outside organisation.

 
 

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