Tourism is one of the biggest and fastest growing sectors in the global economy and has significant environmental, cultural, social and economic impacts. However, a major issue relating to tourism is its unsustainable growth. Many developing countries are experiencing the dire consequences of unplanned mass tourism such as heavy pollution of natural vegetation, mountains and sea beaches. This in turn puts the sustainability of tourism industry at stake.
These concerns have led to the development of “ecotourism” i.e. responsible tourism which gives enough focus to the nature, local people and their culture. While ecotourism is increasing, little attention has been given to policy and planning related to it. Additionally, there is a lack of awarness about the existing legal framework.
In the wake of these developments and gaps in the policy work, the Centre for Environmental Law, WWF-India organised two ‘Refreshers Courses on Ecotourism and Environmental Laws’. The first course was held in Mussoorie from September 21 to 22, 2006, and the second was organised in Goa from October 6 to 8, 2006. These courses were organised in collaboration with Gtz, Inwent and Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India.
Several eminent speakers from all over the country were invited to speak on various topics related to “Ecotourism and Environmental Law”. The course was designed so as to initiate a discussion and dialogue process and suggest recommendations based on these deliberations. The participants were from diverse fields comprising of government, development sector, academic among others.