Current status of Tourism

According to the current estimates tourism represents 6.5 percent of the global workforce, employing 112 million people throughout the world. It plays a major role in the global economy and represents a significant global gross national product (GNP). Tourism is a highly fragmented industry with many different participants including tour operators, the transport and hotel industry, and of course, the tourists themselves. At the start of the 90's decade,several trends were observed at the global level. According to the report of the World Tourism Organisation,1990, Asia/Oceania was expected to receive more international tourists than any other region in the world. At the same time tourists were diversifying into highly specialised groups from among a broad range of activities. Increased interest in travel to natural and less disturbed areas due to a rapidly growing interest in environmental matters and nature was perceived as one of the trends. This was expected to result in an increased interest in Asia and tropical America, areas which still contained large tracts of wilderness (WWF-UK, 1992).

Although in India tourism has been a part of the country's ethos for a long time,it had predominantly been restricted to religious, archeological and recreational sites. Nature tourism, predominantly in the form of shooting and hunting trips, has gradually given way to photographic and nature oriented tours. Today, in the parks,sanctuaries and unprotected wilderness of India,nature based tourism has increased in scope, and is understood to, include nature trails, trekking , mountaineering, rock climbing , safaris, adventure sports and bird watching , in addition to photography expeditions. Most of these activities take place in forest and mountain terrain rich in wildlife and local ambience.

Such nature based tourism has either been species oriented or ecosystem oriented. Species oriented tourism in India has been confined to a few flagship species such as the tiger, which draws tourists to parks that are its natural habitat; or the Siberian crane, which is a major draw for tourists to the well-known Keoladeo National Park. In fact, most of India's popular parks and sanctuaries are the natural habitat for one or another flagship species. The problem here is that if the flagship species is not sighted often enough, tourist flow may stem. Its dependence on a single species thus makes species oriented tourism rather precarious.

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