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Sustainable tourism possible only when villagers benefit directly from it: Wildlife officer

Nagaland News

DIMAPUR, JANUARY 19: Sustainable tourism can be achieved only when the villagers benefit directly from it and a portion of the revenue generated is re-routed towards conservation efforts, according to Tokaho Kinimi, Wildlife Warden, Dimapur.
On Friday, speaking at a panel discussion on sustainable tourism in Nagaland, at the ongoing 2nd Nagaland International Trade Expo in Dimapur, the Forest officer also suggested that sustainability can be attained by focusing on eco tourism and not mass tourism.
This, he reasoned, serves the dual purpose of ensuring the protection of Nagaland’s fragile ecosystem and skirting the hurdle presented by its low carriage capacity in terms of accommodation.
“But for this, we need huge manpower ~ talented manpower. For example, in the case of wildlife tourism, we need environmentalists and naturalists ~ people who have expert knowledge of our ecology, landscape and translate it for the tourists”, said Kinimi.
To a crowd of mostly students ~ Class 7 and Class 11 ~ the IFS officer explained the relation between sustainable and eco tourism before outlining Nagaland’s “very high potential for eco tourism”.
He pointed out that Nagaland currently is home to one National Park and two Wildlife Sanctuaries, whose combined area is 238 sq km.
When combined acreage is compared with the State’s total geographical area of 16,579 sq km, Kinimi pointed out that the “ratio is very meagre”.
But the good news, he said, is that out of the 137 notified Community Reserves in the State, 72 have ongoing projects at par with Wildlife Sanctuaries.
“These are purely managed and run by the communities. When combined, their total area comes to around 800 sq km. And all of them have very high potential for eco tourism”, he shared.
Fellow panelist, Veyielo Doulo, the Additional Director of Tourism, also underscored the imperative of community participation.
“For sustainable tourism, what we need to do is take the community into confidence. As a Department, we always ensure that we consult the community”, he said.
As a successful model of sustainable tourism in Nagaland, the officer cited Khonoma Green Village in Kohima.
“It’s a green village not because the roofs are painted green but because they have concerned their entire area ~ both flora and fauna”, Doulo said.
According to him, Touphema, Mopungchuket and Changtongya were some of the other villages catching up with Khonoma’s feat in sustainable tourism.
Doulo also said that the Department currently is deliberately not pursuing “wide publicity” to attract more tourists to the State.
Otherwise, he said, its IT Cell set up during the latest Hornbill Festival had managed to garner more than 1 million online followers within a month.
“The only obstacle that we have is we don’t have the carrying capacity. Dimapur, as a commercial hub, has so many hotels where we can accommodate thousands of people.
“But up there in Kohima, our capacity is hardly 1000 rooms. Due to that reason, we don’t go for wide publicity”, he said.
The other panelists were Ruhul Amin, Assistant High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Guwahati; Veluzo Tetseo, General Secretary of Nagaland Association of Tour Operators; Bobby Singh, General Manager of Zone by the Park Niathu; and Yanren Jami, co-founder of 4×4 Attitude and Nagaland Winter Expedition.
(Page News Service)