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`Special focus on high-budget tourism needed'

Our Bureau

KOCHI, May 30

THE two-day conference of the Confederation of Indian Industry - EcoTour Kerala 2002 - has found that conservation of biodiversity and natural resources in the ecosystem should be the foundation for all tourism initiatives, which should be based on equal partnership.

The draft recommendations on the outcome of the conference pointed out that Kerala could not afford any other form of tourism other than sustainable ecotourism, and suggested encouraging State-level financial institutions to develop different and novel funding options for various ecotourism projects.

The conference also acknowledged that there were multiple stakeholders in the tourism process and priorities should be given to land, people, State, tourist and enterprise in that order.

It also observed that conservation should take precedence over tourism.

There was a need for an institutional framework to address multi-stakeholder interests.

The policy issues to be addressed by the Government include the determination of the carrying capacity, overall land use policy and co-ordination between different stakeholders.

Though the State should prioritise high-budget low-volume tourism, it could also create facilities for youth and budget travellers.

The participants at the conference also aired the view that the proposed Tourism Conservation Preservation and Trade Act must be made public and open for discussion.

The State should move away from enterprise regulation to resource conservation and lay down standards for environment conservation.

The regulatory mechanism under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be re-defined and sectoral perspective highlighted.

In order to ensure conflict-free destination, the service of the local community should be utilised and community rights should take precedence over tourist access to local common resources.

The conference emphasised the need for "extended producer responsibility" and "take back waste" principle for effective solid waste management.

Industry-led accreditation system should be developed and eco-friendly practices should be incentivised through fiscal relief.

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