In an effort to promote rural and eco-tourism, the ministry of tourism has started an initiative, which will encourage proposals from state governments for improvement of tourist infrastructure in the rural areas at a cost of up to Rs 5,000,000.
"To support this scheme, the ministry has entered into a tie-up with United Nations Development Project," said Renuka Choudhary, Minister of State for Tourism, while inaugurating an international conference of marketing eco and rural tourism organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Under the project, 31 sites across the country have already been identified.
"The real ownership of eco-systems rests with the local people who celebrate their relationship with the eco reality through rituals and festivals," she added.
The minister urged NGOs to act as the link between the government and the local communities for the implementation of the project.
During the session, Yes Bank released a study titled 'Investment Opportunities in Eco Tourism'. It highlighted the potential of eco and rural tourism to benefit local communities. It outlines opportunities to use tourism for local economic development and to develop clusters of products and services in communities, which can be marketed to international, regional and domestic tourists.
The private sector bank, which is yet to commence operations said that it was in talks with financial institutions like IDFC and ICICI to form a consortium to fund eco-toursim projects.
"Unlike other tourism projects, an eco-tourism project is based on a scientific approach. Also the entry of players at a particular site is limited by its stipulated environmental carrying capacity of the site, which is determined after environmental impact assessment," said Samak Ghosh, country head (infrastructure advisory and finance) Yes Bank.Yes Bank is planning to give out 10 per cent of its lending portfolio to eco-tourism projects primarily in Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Kerala.