Promoting ecotourism in North East interiors
Sudipta Dev – Mumbai
Ecotourism Society of North East is focused on creating awareness about developing sustainable tourism in the north eastern states. The society has brought together many local NGOs who are working in the field of ecotourism, along with committed individuals in this field across the world. “Some of our members are in the US, UK, Australia and South East Asia. Initially we started our initiatives in Assam, and have now covered Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. In 2016 we will be looking at establishing our presence in Nagaland, where like at other destinations we will coordinate with local NGOs and skilled people from the tourism industry,” said Guwahati-based Gautam Dutta, president, Ecotourism Society of North East.
Future plans include entering the interior parts of the North East. “We want to highlight those destinations, specially rural tourism potential in North East India. We want tourists to come and explore our rural tourism destinations,” said Dutta, adding that they are in touch with Ecotourism Society of India, tour operator associations of India and few hospitality majors.
The society engages with the local communities and gives free training to people in the villages, along with promoting individual local accommodation providers through its website. Acknowledging that they do not work like a typical travel agent, Dutta stated, “Whenever any tourist communicates with us we connect them with the local people so that the latter can guide the tourist, and be the direct beneficiary. We do this to encourage them to remain in the industry. We go to Kaziranga, Manas, and give them training to be tourist guides, including knowledge of foreign languages.” Every year in the month of July, 10th pass students in Kaziranga are provided training for one month and learn about birdwatching, guiding tourists, checking and replying to emails, etc.