Sustainable Tourism ?
Practice of sustainability towards anthropocentric gain is not going to serve the spirit of ecological balance for a longer period. Human intervention in any form addresses and serves the human need for a greater amount of time and money, which has no linkage with the natural world. However all of these interventions utilise natural resources in one or the other way and tinker with the amazing fabric of natural system in this planet. Sustainable tourism for development especially if to be applied in protected natural areas in all possible manners is counterproductive in the long run.
The spirit of conservation in Indian context under the existing laws is defeated to a greater extent because of unregulated and irresponsible tourism, along with inherent inability on account of poor infrastructure, lack of vigilance and legal loopholes. Nearly 5% of the land area in this country is protected under the law to ensure their wilderness. However amazingly there are numerous examples of violation of the laws going on unabated in all such areas. There is no definite guideline for tourism in protected areas or in their management plans, which may address these violations or sensitize the tourists. Under the existing law like Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, hunting anywhere (including protected areas) or its attempt is a serious offence. “Hunting” as defined by this law include, driving, chasing, and baiting any animal in wild / captivity and every attempt to do so. No person shall “hunt” any animal specified in Schedules I-IV of the aforesaid Act except certain exemptions for the need of education, scientific research and management, which does not include tourism. However, law if not strictly adhered to or complied with supportive measures, its objective is defeated. The magnitude of impact from tourism in these natural areas is enormous and violation of the law is unrealized or ignored to a large extent. Tourism in this manner without adequate supporting mechanism might have contributed to revenue generation, but defeated the spirit of conservation. Chasing, driving and bating animals for photography, damaging the nests/ eggs of birds or reptiles are all unethical attempts and offensive action under the existing law. In this context, sustainable tourism in natural areas of India needs extensive review and a clear policy.