Srinagar: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to formulate a new Tourism Master Plan focusing on the conservation of the environment.
MoEFCC has recently issued a notification in which they have suggested the UT government take several measures including formulating a Zonal Master Plan and Tourism Master Plan.
As per the notification, the MoEFCC has asked the Jammu and Kashmir government that the Tourism Master Plan be prepared by the Union Territory Department of Tourism in consultation with the Union Territory Departments of Environment and Forests.
“All new eco-tourism activities or expansion of existing tourism activities within the Eco-sensitive Zone shall be as per the Tourism Master Plan for the Eco-sensitive Zone,” it said.
MoEFCC said the Tourism Master Plan shall be drawn with a focus on the study of the carrying capacity of the eco-sensitive zone.
As per the notification, new construction of hotels and resorts shall not be allowed within one kilometer of the boundary of the protected area or up to the extent of the eco-sensitive Zone.
“Provided that beyond the distance of one kilometer from the boundary of the protected area till the extent of the Eco-sensitive Zone, the establishment of new hotels and resorts shall be allowed only in pre-defined and designated areas for eco-tourism facilities as per Tourism Master Plan,” it said.
The MoEFCC said that all new tourism activities or expansion of existing tourism activities within the Eco-sensitive Zone shall be by the guidelines issued by the Central Government in the Ministry of Environment with emphasis on eco-tourism, eco-education, and eco-development.
“The new tourism activities shall be also by guidelines by Forest and Climate Change and the eco-tourism guidelines issued by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (as amended from time to time),” it said.
Until the Zonal Master Plan is approved, the MoEFCC asked the UT government that the development for tourism and expansion of existing tourism activities shall be permitted by the concerned regulatory authorities based on the actual site-specific scrutiny and recommendation of the Monitoring Committee.
“No new hotel, resort or commercial establishment construction shall be permitted within eco-sensitive zone area,” it said.
While tourism players welcome this notification, they said the demand for sustainable tourism has been their long-pending issue.
“We have always focused on sustainable tourism. For the last few years, we have been witnessing a good footfall of tourists and as such it is important to conserve our eco-system. There has to be a proper system of waste management at tourist destinations. At the same time, other destinations should get due importance,” said Rauf Ahmad Tramboo president of the Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK).