Ecotourism is considered the most rapidly expanding sectors of the travel industry.
Tourism within a PA (National Parks & Sanctuaries) part of the tiger reserves is
managed by the state governments by invoking the provisions of section 28 of the
wildlife act as well as rules framed under this section. Now, for development and
management of ecotourism in the buffer zones of tiger reserves one doesn't have
the advantage of section 28 as this section is not applicable to the buffer (the
Non PA part of the tiger reserve). It is quite obvious therefore that tourism development
in the buffer must be participatory venture and should be planned in a manner that
it benefits local people , protects local resources and local culture as well as
meets the objective of securing dispersal areas and corridor connections for tigers
and other wild animals.
Ecotourism is being promoted by many as a way to achieve environmental conservation
objectives and as a tool for sustainable development of remotely situated communities;
little effort is visible in the tiger reserves towards involving and benefiting
forest dependent local people who are not well disposed towards protected area owing
to resource use conflict. Unplanned development of tourism always results in attrition
of the resources, adversely impacts wildlife habitat and finally leads to dissatisfaction
of visitors and earns a bad name for the protected area and the government. There
is statutory limitation on expanding tourism in core areas of the tiger reserves
but these limiting guidelines are not applicable to the buffer areas of the tiger
reserves. As such there is a huge potential for development of eco-tourism in the
buffer zones which would not only provide better livelihood to the local people
but also reduce the pressure of tourism on the core zones.
MPTFS is in the process of developing a tripartite agreement between Tiger reserves,
MPEDB and Local Communities, for the participatory venture of eco-tourism development.