By Gour Kanjilal
Experiential tours are now increasing and looking for such destinations where they are open to all the surprises that are awaiting them. Today travel is not about logistics, sightseeing or shopping. It is about experience you give and the memories you help create whether glimpse of a tiger in its natural habitat or wine tasting at the vineyard or challenging white water rafting in the up Himalayas. Experiential tourism draws a visitor into cultures, communities and outdoor activities by way of allowing them a firsthand feel of things at holiday destinations. This is more happening now towards India specially related to wildlife viewing specially Tiger viewing.
Africa which is well known for 5 big animals but do not provide opportunity to see Tiger so India stand unique and there is a demand to see tiger from close quarters. There is a specialized body namely Travel Operators for Tigers (TOFT) an international group of wildlife operators who felt totally disheartened with the recent government orders to see that tourism is disallowed in the core zones of tiger reserves – where tigers breed. They are pleading to the government to allow tourism to continue in the core areas of tiger reserves across the country. The National Tiger conservation Authority (statutory body under the wildlife protection act) wants total “BAN”. This body which is mandated to provide Safe habitat to 1706 tigers in 40 tigers reserves wants these reserves free from human interference.
But the promoters of wildlife tours are also very sensitive to tiger preservation and have rightly mentioned that regulation and tourism has helped better conservation and locals have benefitted specially tribal as stake holders. They keep strong eye on the poachers. Most of the tourist accommodations are in buffer zones.
Tourism money can be better utilized for tiger conservation work. Let there be some regulation but not total Ban. It is high time we think over this burning issue and look out a formula. Let the tribals in the core area be shifted to a safer place as they create regular human interference and not tourists. They like to see the tiger and go back with happy memories. They take elephants ride or jeep ride from distance and do not disturb the animals. It is the fact which can be certified by tourists.
Also if Africa can promote wildlife Tourism even in core area, India also can do the same. We also have all the expertise and sensitiveness to tiger.