A solar heating system, water recycling unit or use of paper bags has become reason enough for establishments to lay claim to the eco-tourism label. True benefits to the environment and society will accrue only when local communities are made central to the tourism enterprise
This note is in response to a request from Madhya Pradesh Ecotourism Development Board (MPEDB), on envisaging the role of communities in ecotourism. Using 6 case studies, the possible role of communities across the spectrum of different levels of community involvement are highlighted along with their positive and negative impacts. A brief analysis of Madhya Pradesh’s Draft Ecotourism Policy shows that while the Policy acknowledges that communities should be involved in ecotourism, there has been very little thought given to the modalities of making this happen. In the section of ‘Recommendations’, focus is on the challenges that ecotourism places on communities’ social structures as well as those working towards the inclusion of them. The other areas that are looked at are ecotourism vis-à-vis income generation and conservation. The issue of benefit sharing in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model are also discussed. The note ends with what EQUATIONS would like to see included in the kind of PPP framework that Madhya Pradesh is working on for ecotourism.