TOAA in the Media

SC order not to affect State tourism (aug 11,2012, Assam Tribune)
Staff reporter

GUWAHATI, Aug 11 – Tour operators based in Assam have put at rest speculation that the recent Supreme Court order on tourism inside ‘Core Areas’ of Tiger Reserves will adversely affect tourist activities in the State’s wildlife destinations.
The country’s apex court has ordered that all tourism activities be stopped inside the core areas of Tiger Reserves, to conserve tigers and their habitat. It created ripples among a section in the tourism sector.
While it may have implications for some Protected Areas like Kanha and Corbett, “We in Assam need not be concerned,” stated the Tour Operators Association of Assam (TOAA), in a press meet held here today.
According to the TOAA, no tourists can have access to the Core Areas of the parks and sanctuaries in Assam, as the well-defined tourist circuits do not intrude into those highly-protected natural environment. Therefore, the question of tourism being affected by a ban or regulation inside the core areas does not arise in the context of Assam.
The present reality in the case of national parks such as Kaziranga, Manas, and Nameri, which contain tiger populations, is that all tourism activities take place away from core areas in very small and regulated routes.
Moreover, even those areas where safaris are allowed, forest personnel keep a strict vigil to deter any environmentally detrimental act.
“Unlike some protected areas in other parts of the country, there are no construction activities going on in the Core Areas of national parks in Assam,” claimed Bhaskar J Barua, TOAA joint secretary.
Barua told the media that sending accurate information to tourists is essential because misleading messages can result in cancelled bookings and loss to the tourism sector that provides employment to a large number of local people.
Noted conservationist Soumyadeep Datta, underlined the links between tourism and conservation in Assam, and mentioned that a balance between tourist activities and conservation efforts exists in the state till now.
“Tourism activities inside the Protected Areas – not within Core Areas – can also act as a tool of vigilance,” he mentioned. Visitors can report any threats to the environment which they might have observed inside a national park or sanctuary.
Datta expressed support to responsible eco-tourism in Assam, reasoning that such endeavours are also a part and parcel of the conservation movement in Assam. He appreciated the Supreme Court’s order, but added that conservation efforts to protect the tigers should also extend to other areas populated by the species
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SC order no bar for tourism(The Telegraph-12 aug,2012 issue)
OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Tourists on a wildlife safari at Kairanga National Park. File picture

Guwahati, Aug. 11: Tour Operators Association of Assam, a forum of 38 tour operators, has made it clear that the Supreme Court order on tiger tourism will have no impact on the state.
The association today said core areas of three tiger reserves in Assam are still untouched by tourism activities and the ban would not have any impact on the flow of wildlife enthusiasts.
A senior forest official said the order would not have any impact in the state as hotels and resorts are far from the core areas. Buffer areas have already been notified in Assam’s tiger reserves.
The Supreme Court, in its order on July 24, made it clear that till final directions are issued, the core zones or core areas in the tiger reserves will not be used for tourism. The final order is expected to be passed on August 22.
“After the Supreme Court’s order there was a lot of apprehension among tour operators in the state. We have come forward to allay all such fears. Wildlife tourism in the three tiger reserves will not be affected because tourism activities in the state’s tiger reserves are all outside core areas,” the association’s joint secretary, Bhaskar J. Barua, said here today.
There are six tiger reserves in the Northeast — three in Assam (Kaziranga tiger reserve, Manas tiger reserve and Nameri tiger reserve), two in Arunachal Pradesh (Namdapha tiger reserve and Pakhui tiger reserve) and one in Mizoram (Dampa tiger reserve). Of the six, Kaziranga gets the maximum number of tourists. Assam government has also constituted a Kaziranga Biodiversity Conservation Committee to look into the mushrooming of resorts and ensure ecologically compliant development outside the park.
Kaziranga park authorities said they have taken up the initiative to declare it an eco-sensitive zone to help restrict or prohibit activities detrimental to the park. The activities would be classified into three areas — prohibited, regulated and permissible — to minimise, or preferably eliminate, any negative impact on it and ensure that the park is safe for the future.
Though the ministry had earlier said “lands falling within 10km of boundaries of national parks and sanctuaries should be notified as eco-fragile zones,” it later modified it, saying that the declaration of eco-sensitive zones should be site-specific and relate to regulation rather than prohibition of specific activities.
In the case of Manas, the World Heritage Committee has asked the Centre to include clear guidelines for the number of tourists permissible and activities in order to ensure that the fragile and recovering outstanding value of the property is not negatively affected.
Barua welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision saying that it would go a long way in helping tiger conservation in the country and free core areas of tiger reserves from any kind of external disturbances. He said the apex court direction would help tiger reserves where lot of tourism activity is taking place in core areas.
“As our tourism activities are outside core areas, our tour operators do not have to worry about the Supreme Court direction,” he said. With tourism season starting from November, the association members said bookings have already started.

 

 

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