After losing its edge in wildlife tourism due to the state’s bifurcation over two decades ago, Uttarakhand is . The state’s wildlife destinations, especially the 4 tiger reserves, have started gaining the spotlight largely because of the improvements in connectivity, superior habitat management and improved sightings of the big cat Tiger.

“Because of better management of the tiger reserves and efforts towards conservation, the tiger population in our reserves have doubled. This is also an indication of a healthy herbivore population in our parks. Moreover, people coming into our forests are getting good sightings of the animals, which is creating word-of-mouth publicity for our parks,” says Sudhir Kumar Sharma, who is the senior-most IFS officer in the state. He spoke about both Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in the Terai region of the state.

In order to promote tourism in the national parks, the state reduced the entry tariffs for visitors to the parks last year, which positively impacted footfalls and revenues of the national parks in the state, Sharma said.

“The number of visitors to the tiger reserves grew 1.5 to 2 times compared to last year,” said Sanjay Srivastava, PCCF and Chief Wildlife Warden of UP, giving an account of the visitor footfalls when the parks closed recently.

“We are trying to bring our wildlife destinations into the national and international map. With this objective, we have organised a seminar with wide participation of the stakeholders on the foundation day of the Pilibhit tiger reserve,” Srivastava said.

While Dudhwa and Pilibhit tiger reserves are drawing in large numbers of visitors, the forest department is also expecting the other two tiger parks – Amangarh and Ranipur – to emerge as major eco-tourism centres in the coming years. “We expect the sighting in Ranipur to improve as the Betwa – Ken link project in Madhya Pradesh gets completed. As some part of the Panna tiger reserve is expected to get submerged, there will be a good floating population of tigers on the Ranipur side,” says Sharma. Amangarh, on the other hand, shares a border with Corbett national park of Uttarakhand.

Uttar Pradesh has immense tourism potential, over 10 crore tourists visited Kashi in 2023: CM Yogi

Addressing the ‘Eco-Tourism Samvad’ in the Mercury Hall of Indira Gandhi Pratishthan, the Chief Minister said, “UP has several sites that attract tourists like Naimisharanya near Lucknow, Chitrakoot, Shukteerth, Vindhyavasini Dham, Maa Pateshwari Dham, Maa Shakambhari Dham in Saharanpur, and Buddhist pilgrimage sites such as Kapilvastu, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Shravasti, and Sankisa. Additionally, there are numerous possibilities for spiritual tourism linked to Jain and Sufi traditions.”

Conceding that connectivity to key tiger reserves in the state is still an issue, both forest officials have said that the government is working on improving connectivity. “The state government is working on an airstrip in Palia to enhance connectivity to Dudhwa. Bareilly airport serves Pilibhit tiger reserve. We are also in the process of connecting Ranipur Reserve with the mythological circuit in Chitrakoot,” Srivastava said.Talking about the guest facilities around wildlife destinations, Sharma said that they are working on developing accommodation facilities in PPP mode in all the destinations associated with wildlife tourism under the eco-tourism policy of the government. While any kind of construction is restricted in the core areas under the Wildlife Protection Act and it is regulated in the buffer areas, the plan is to develop these facilities in the fringe areas. He said that facilities will be developed by different government agencies that are stakeholders in tourism and then handed over to the private sector to operate on a revenue-sharing basis.

Regarding balancing conservation and tourism, Srivastava said that Uttar Pradesh is setting examples in efficient conservation and habitat management and, simultaneously, tourism development through a well-defined eco-tourism policy. “Tourism is important because it gives good publicity to wildlife destinations and at the same time generates revenues to support conservation. If wildlife is not there, there will be no tourism,” he said.

  • Published On Jul 3, 2024 at 11:45 AM IST

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