Trends and pathways for ecotourism research in India

6 months, 2 weeks ago 0
Posted in: Press Release

25th May 2018, Bengaluru: A new study on ecotourism titled ‘Trends and pathways for ecotourism research in India’ has identified research gaps requiring immediate attention in terms of scientific data and analysis of the economics and conservation around ecotourism in India.

The authors analysed and reviewed 30 peer-reviewed studies on ecotourism published since 2005. Studies were categorised into three broad themes – those that assessed the potential for ecotourism at specific sites, examined impacts of the existing tourism model, and those that evaluated ongoing ecotourism initiatives. The authors also identified the prominent reasons to adopt ecotourism, evaluated whether principles of ecotourism had been incorporated in scientific research, and identified gaps in research.

The study found that existing research is not comprehensive, nor does it equally address all the principles of ecotourism. There are major gaps in research regarding the impact on wildlife in terms of habitat use, populations and behaviour; research to quantify changes in land use pattern, habitat degradation, connectivity and resource consumption; research to ensure equitable distribution of economic benefits; social and ecological carrying capacities of sites; studies exploring means to move from tiger-centric tourism to ecotourism; and implementation issues in ecotourism projects.

Mahi Puri, the lead author of the study and a PhD student at the University of Florida said, “India is endowed with some of the most diverse landscapes and biodiversity in the world. However, in comparison to countries like South Africa, Kenya and Costa Rica, India is not recognized as an ecotourism destination, and therefore misses out on a large share of international tourism. For India to gain a foothold in the global market, a huge shift towards responsible tourism models is required. Scientific research can provide the necessary impetus for policy legislation, consumer awareness, and avenues for financial investment. Our study is a step towards identifying existing gaps in ecotourism research in India”

Through this study, the authors address these research gaps and provide recommendations that could help improve the existing discourse and encourage policy interventions, in an effort to ensure socio-economic development of local communities through benefits sharing, without compromising conservation realities.

The study was published in the journal ‘Journal of Ecotourism’ on 21st May 2018. It was conducted by scientists from the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; Wildlife Conservation Society-India Program, Bangalore, India; Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bangalore, India; Wildlife Conservation Society, Global Conservation Program, New York City, NY, USA; Nicholas School of Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA and the Department of Tourism, Recreation & Sport Management, University of Florida Gainesville, FL, USA.

The study was authored by Ms Mahi Puri, Dr Krithi Karanth and Dr Brijesh Thapa. It may be accessed at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14724049.2018.1474885

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