WWF and ICIMOD jointly urge the mountain communities to adopt tourism



Leh, November 01  (Scoop News) -   Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. It is also a source of increasing stress on fragile ecosystems. Its social, economic and environmental impacts are immense and complex because todays major part of tourism concentrates on vulnerable natural and cultural sites. To discuss and to document these issues for mountain regions and specially for Himalayan high altitude ecosystems a workshop titled Tourism Value Chain in Ladakh was organised.



Chairman and Chief Executive Councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council today inaugurated a workshop on the Tourism Value Chain in Ladakh. The workshop was jointly organised by WWF-India in collaboration with International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Department of Wildlife Protection Leh and Department of Tourim, Government of Jammu & Kashmir.


Inaugurating the workshop the Chairman of the Ladakh Hill Council Mr. Rigzin Spalbar said that tourism is a double edged sword and Short-term gains may take precedence over long-term environmental considerations, such as the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. However, natural ecosystems and biological resources that may be threatened by tourism development provide the very goods and services that underpin the tourism industry. He informed the wide range of stakeholders in the workshop that in this year’s tourism season in Ladakh environment fee has been collected and this amount will be used for nature conservation in Ladakh.


Marjorie Van Strien, Tourism & Sustainable Livelihood specialist of ICIMOD made a key note presentation on successful case studies on ecotourism from different Himalayan countries. In her presentation she emphasized that local communities are a key player and their involvement in the tourism sector will benefit both the poor and marginalised communities as well as the nature of the region.


Addressing the participants of the workshop Mr. Tsering Angchok, Dy. Commissioner Leh stressed that challenge of the day is to ensure that tourism is developed in harmony with environmental considerations. He also highlighted the fact that in mountain areas like Ladakh there is a great need by built the capacity of the local communities to ensure that local people get benefitted from the tourism. For this he urged the organisers to organise the specialised trainings with a focus on capacity building of Locals.


In his presentation Mr. Jigmet Takpa, Conservator Forests Ladakh informed that sustainable tourism can generate employment and income, thus providing a strong incentive for conservation. It can also raise public awareness of the many goods and services provided by biological diversity, and of the needs to respect traditional knowledge and practices. Sustainable tourism has the potential to reconcile economic and environmental concerns and give a practical meaning to sustainable development. He also highlighted various ecotourism projects being implemented in Ladakh by the department of wildlife protection.

Pankaj Chandan, Head of the HAWS programme of WWF threw light on the biodiversity and tourism development guidelines developed by United Nations. He further added that in an area like Ladakh, where the whole tourism industry revolves around the nature and culture of the area tourism is of immense significance. Therefore for us it is very vital that our tourism developmental plans are in tune with the sustainability and conservation of the region. He asked the participants to keep in mind that both nature and culture of the region are conserved and protected while ensuring that tourism goes on and benefits the locals.


In his address Kiran Rajashekriah, Head of Regional Programme of WWF made a presentation about the importance of such a exercise. He said that such a exercise will be of immense value to future tourism planning in Ladakh which can benefit people as well as nature of the region on long term basis. This will be our ideal contribution for future generations.


The workshop was attended by the key stakeholders from Ladakh. Among others Ms. Nisa Khatoon, Project Officer, WWF, Radhika Kathori, Director, Snow Leopard Conservancy, Abdul Rouf, Wildlife Warden Leh, Mehboob Ali, Assistant Director Tourism along with the officials of the tourism and wildlife departments were also present.

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