Tamil Nadu to follow PPP model to develop ecotourism

Chennai, June 7 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu government will adopt the public-private partnership (PPP) model, especially in the areas of infrastructure sharing and knowledge exchange, to promote ecotourism in the state.

Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin Monday released a policy document on this at the state secretariat here.

‘The main focus of the policy is to educate the youth about preserving the environment, the flora and fauna of the state, the kind of forests that the state is endowed with,’ Tourism Director A.C. Mohandoss told IANS.

Mohandoss, also managing director of Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, said the PPP will be attempted in a limited way in professionally managing the camping areas and ecotourism destinations.

Non-governmental organisations working in the fields of environment and wildlife will be involved in eco-education and eco-awareness among the tourists.

‘Our policy is unique as we will involve the forest department to meet the public and educate them about the forests. Senior forest department officials will be designated as ecotourism managers,’ he said.

The strategy to develop ecotourism will be to identify the destinations that could be tied up with existing popular tourist destinations so that infrastructure development could be kept to the minimum, he said.

Mohandoss said once the destination is finalised the development and management will be done by the forest department involving the local community.

The operation of different tourism products will be entrusted to an Ecotourism Management Committee.

He said the tourism department started the ecotourism programmes last October and has conducted more than 20 trekking expeditions for people in the age bracket 9 and 75 years.

Mohandoss also said the state is now developing lesser known tourist destinations like Megamallai and Valpparai.

Ruling out privatising of hotels run by the tourism corporation, he said out of the 54 properties, 22 have been franchised out and the balance are under our management.

‘They are earning good revenues,’ he said.

According to him, four crore domestic and three million foreign tourists visited the state in the last fiscal.

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