Think beyond tiger tourism in Vidarbha, says VED

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Jul 2017 11:49:44


Business Bureau

Vidarbha Economic Development Council (VED) has always been in the forefront of promoting eco-tourism and has taken several projects to achieve it. The eco-tourism potential has already been well-tapped nationally and globally in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, home to the largest number of the Royal Bengal Tiger.

The majority of tourists however, are found to be visiting the PAs for a 1-night stay, maximum 2, taking two or three safaris and leaving the park. That doesn’t help as much as it should in terms of revenue-generation because there is something beyond tiger tourism that exists, and must
be explored.

Fortunately, there is much that can be explored for creating unique world-class experiences and furthering a light-footed, sustainable tourism which can be packaged attractively for the world-wide tourism platform.
The idea of tourism beyond the tiger means the tourist can not only visit other sites of interest around the parks but also have ‘experiences’ and activities of different kinds to keep them motivated to stay for 3-4 days which would automatically mean more revenue generated for the stakeholders, including the local communities.

‘Experiences’ can be created which creative minds with imagination or people with personal experiences elsewhere can suggest. It is for this, that VED recently held a meet inviting the public with their ideas of what ‘experiences’ could be created which would make the tourists stay put for a longer period. The public contributed positively and constructively to this concept of ‘Experiences beyond tiger tourism.’

Vila Kale began with a map of tiger country Central India prepared by his Cenin Travels and introduced the scope of tiger country beyond the tiger and the unique experiences that could be designed for a tourist.
For the western circuit, the ideas that came forth through Vilas Kale and the public were on Chikhaldara where a marathon in either driving or bicycling or a duathlon of both combined could be organised on an international level as well as trekking along difficult paths i.e. adventure trekking. For Gavilgarh, the suggested experiences were star-gazing, zip-lining and a horror-house experience in the three caves there.

Around Lonar crater lake and its surroundings could come up a geological museum considering its richness of stones as well a Vaishnava circuit as there are Vishnu temples in the region.

In the south circuit, Wangepalli was suggested for the creation of tented accommodation for visiting Dr Prakash Amte’s Lok Biradari Prakalp at Hemalkasa and farther on to Sironcha, the confluence of two rivers as well as the Mahakaleshwar temple there. Along with Safaris in TATR, Markanda and an international level tourism involving river Wainganga there could be thought of as potential for tourism beyond the tiger. Baba Amte’s Anandwan at Warora and Bhadravati are possible areas of tourism too.

In the north circuit, Ramtek-Mansar could be very profitably coupled with visits to the Pench Tiger Reserves. In the eastern sector along with Nawegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve, Kachargarh caves that few have heard of, could be a big draw. It was also suggested to have international volunteerism set up for work especially in tribal areas, organised by agencies or NGOs. The availability of guides was mooted with MTDC certifying the guides. This was in existence earlier but had been discontinued hence its resumption was suggested. It was also suggested to develop an app for the availability of tourist guides and the opening of an institute for the training of such guides. Finally it was suggested that MTDC should promote not just destinations but circuits.

Prominently present were Vilas Kale, IPP, VED, Devendra Parekh, President of VED, Vinita Mathur, Vice-President, VED, VED members Dinesh Naidu, Pankaj Mahajan, Navin Mithal, Milind Fadnavis, Mrunalini Fadnavis, H. Hede, Regional Manager, MTDC, ex-Regional Manager MTDC, M H Zanzad, Aditya Shekhar Gupta, Milind Karandikar of Jigyasa R&D and his team, devisers of Apps for tourism and others.