Published On : Mon, Sep 1st, 2014

30% of GDP can come from eco-tourism in Vidarbha: Bittu Sahgal

Bittu Sahgal Nagpur Business NewsNagpur News.

“We can have high value ecologically sustainable tourism from Nagpur. We must remember that tourism doesn’t begin at the gate of the Park but right at the airport here”, said Bittu Sahgal, wildlife expert and Editor, Sanctuary Asia magazine, at a meeting with the Vidarbha Economic Development Council (VED) recently. He continued to say that money on a large scale can be generated right here in Nagpur with people staying overnight on the way to the Park on the way back, but at no cost should unregulated tourism infrastructure be allowed to mushroom outside parks. Today the need is to create facilities which have a zero negative impact on tourism so that it is beneficial to the local community and to the Park. Devendra Parekh, President VED also reflected Bittu Seghal’s views that this was the future of Wildlife tourism with an inclusive approach and Vidarbha could lead the country as an example of how sustainable tourism benefits all stakeholders.
Apart from tiger-sighting and safaris, Sahgal stressed that other activities such as canoe and walking safaris, were of prime importance in the parks which could create 250 new jobs in the forest peripheries for people in a Park like Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, fetching a minimum of Rs. 300/- a day per head. He said that the impact of farming on the forest peripheries is more damaging to the forests as it is done in a very unsustainable manner which is a sure formula for failure. He stressed the importance of the farmlands being turned into conservancy reserves with forest-related activities which would provide the people with incomes from facilities for tourists, like home-stays. He also suggested forest cooperatives for the buffer-zone development for such activities. Aditya Dhanwatay, Member Executive Committee, informed that these activities were being put into place and would be in operation in a few months, enhancing the value of the parks.
By Creation of such tourism opportunities, 30% of the GDP for Vidarbha could come from tourism but currently it is not possible with so many negative factors like man-animal conflicts, climate change, nature problems and, of course, improper management etc. Sahgal felt we have excellent opportunities here for this type of tourism, but, unfortunately, actually have the worst managed eco-tourism in the world. Nagpur should take upon itself to demonstrate what proper eco-tourism should be. He suggested VED together with Sanctuary Asia should promote proper land use planning for tourism outside national parks.
Sahgal further endorsed that Wagh Utsav, planned by VED for February 2015, was necessary as an objective to Brand Tiger, Brand Nagpur & Brand Vidarbha, as the Tiger Capital of the world. It was also time to think in terms of taking it to a higher level and working together for creating a road-map for the future of eco-tourism, forests and tigers.
VED invited Bittu Sahgal to guide and steer the course of Wagh Utsav scheduled for 2015 February so that it can be taken to the next level, informed Rahul Upganlawar, Secretary General, VED. Sudhir Ghike, Member VED, informed that a lot of excitement had got generated for the Utsav as several programmes were being fitted into it.
Those prominently present at the meeting were Ms. Madhu Bittu Sahgal, Mr. M.S. Reddy, Field Director, Pench Tiger Reserve, Rohit Karoo, Hon. Wildlife Warden, Umred-Karhandla Tiger Reserve, Jaydeep Das, Corporate Trainer and wildlifer from Rotary – Green City. The VED members present, apart from Devendra Parekh, President and Rahul Upganlawar, Secretary General, were Aditya Dhanwatay, Member Executive Committee, Sudhir Ghike, Member and Anuradha Paul, Executive Secretary.