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Resource Center
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Eco-tourism Policy to Hard Sell Orissa
April 11, 2011

Eco-tourism Policy to Hard Sell Orissa


http://expressbuzz.com/states/orissa/Eco-tourism-policy-to-hard-sell-Orissa/264648.html

11 April 2011

Bhubaneshwar:
In its bid to market the unique bio-diversity and ecological treasure of the State, the Government is readying an eco-tourism policy which will sell Brand Orissa in a sustainable manner.

The Forest and Environment Department, which is mandated with promotion of eco-tourism in the State, has proposed in the draft policy that an Orissa Eco-tourism Development Board (OEDB) be constituted to act as the nodal agency.

The board will have the mandate to pursue the objectives of the proposed policy which looks at “branding and marketing an Orissa style of visitor experience and promote a quiet enjoyment of its natural heritage’’.

It will also have the responsibility to put in place necessary administrative systems while being equipped with technical and financial resources.

One of the major thrusts of the policy will be investment in appropriate eco-friendly infrastructure to promote eco-tourism by developing and promoting destinations and activities through partnerships with various stake-holders, mostly local communities.

The draft policy states that the USPs of the State will be identified through a process of comprehensive consultation and it will form the basis for establishing Brand Orissa through responsible marketing of sustainable tourism in which community-based eco-tourism in and around protected areas will play a significant role.

The income generated from eco-tourism activity will be ploughed back to the community managing eco-tourism and for promotion of eco-development and eco-tourism facilities.

Since the new measures will necessitate capacity building, the State Government is looking at establishing a centre of excellence for responsible tourism.

It will provide the necessary impetus for in-house training.

The draft policy is also looking at introduction of curriculum on responsible and sustainable tourism in secondary schools and educational institutions. This will be reinforced through eco-clubs and green volunteers.

To push the cause, a dedicated website will be launched which will provide information on best practices, guidelines, codes, standards, accreditation schemes and models concerned with different aspects of eco-tourism.

Besides, a transparent audit of eco-tourism enterprises assessing the extent to which the visitors’ facilities and amenities meet a predefined set of best practice criteria will be put in place.

“This will enable the responsible traveller to make an informed choice of their destination and accommodation, while encouraging enterprises to adopt and develop best practice,” the policy document says.

The policy aims at promoting the new eco-tourism market by investing in the development of a network of prime eco-tourism destinations, reliable means of access and eco-lodges which will include home-stays.