Eco tourism yet to pick up


Tourism industry in Karnataka sees less number of tourists visiting eco-spots even after lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

Environmental tour operators in Bengaluru are still not getting tourists at pre-pandemic levels even after the state government eased lockdown restrictions to facilitate travel.

The Jungle Lodges and Resorts Limited (JLR), a government agency for environmental tourism promotion in Karnataka, said that the overall eco-tourism in the state was recouping.

“By and large the tourists are showing the same enthusiasm as before, in travelling to the ecotourism destinations. During the pandemic period, the closure of the districts affected the movement for the tourists, which in turn affected the footfall at all destinations,” a spokesperson for the company said in an email.

Environmental or Eco-tourism is a type of travel in which the tourist’s motivation is observation of nature and the culture of natural areas states United Nation World Travel Organisation (UNTWO).  The whole tourism industry faced losses during the pandemic. It also affected eco-tour operators and travellers.

Karthik, director of Nisarga Outdoors Adventure and Eco-tourism Company, Bengaluru said “Before we had four to five programs in a month which has come down to two. We have also reduced batches of 20-24 people to 16 people, keeping in mind the safety. The number of batches has also come down.”

He added that earlier they had activities like trekking along with the tours which have reduced now. The company has started listing eco- properties for stay and has received a good response. Sravan, a trekker said that on his recent treks with his travel group   he faced no problems related to travelling during the tour.

“During the lockdown no one could go anywhere but now it’s back on track in a way. It’s still slow but we are searching for new places which are safer and enjoyable. We are planning to visit many spots in Karnataka in upcoming months,” he added.

Dev Balaji, director of Nature Admire Globetrotters Adventure Travel Company, said that currently they are operating only on weekends. Their business is down by 70 percent compared to the pre-pandemic levels. He said that the business was okay but not as good as before the pandemic. In the past few months, they get about 20 people a week as against 60 to 80 earlier.

“There is still a fear of travel and therefore people prefer   to go for weekend trips on their own,” he said.   

Dr. Robinet Jacob, Associate professor, Tourism Department, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam said “The number of travellers is not as usual. This is the biggest problem not only in eco- tourism but in the whole industry. Eco-tourism is a very unique type of travel. It’s educational, exploratory and adventurous. It’s a niche category and will always be there.”