Friday, 7 June 2013

Plans afoot to tap eco-tourism through trekking programmes

Encouraged by the two successful eco-tourism initiatives that not only generated revenue but also employment generation opportunities for the tribals, Forest Department is mulling over the option of promoting eco-treks in Coimbatore district.

Eco-tourism initiative at Kovai Coutrallam is proving to be a roaring success with nearly 50 tribal people, both men and women, getting jobs and a decent remuneration for the same. The tribal people are employed at the interpretation centre, issuing for tickets, regulating the visitors, water supply to the tourists, screening the visitors, gardening and cleaning and also in house-keeping of the forest rest houses at Chadivayal.  The initiative began recently and the revenue generation was really encouraging and it should be in the range of several lakhs per annum.

Eco-tourism at Baralikadu, near Pilloor, promoted by the Forest Department was a big hit and more than 50 tribal people are employed and the revenue was more than Rs. 70 lakhs per annum.

There are also tribals who work as rowing men of the coracles besides tribal women, who work as cleaners and cooks.

The tribal people’s participation in eco-tourism has indirectly contributed to conservation efforts.  Exploitation of tribal people has been brought to an end.

The initiatives have changed the outlook of the tribal people and had improved their socio-economic conditions as well, forest officials added.

Going by the encouraging response to the two initiatives, District Forest Officer V. Thirunavukkarasu in consultation with range officers has identified as many as 36 trekking routes.

Many of them have the option of a night stay on some routes and the others could be a dawn-to-dusk trek.

Of the 36 routes, the department identified 10 of them to be safe in terms of wildlife presence.

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