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16 October 2011

International Conference on forest and wildlife tourism gets underway in Bhopal

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By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: A two-day international conference on forest and wildlife tourism got underway here. It is being attended by important organisations linked with tourism business, representatives of State and Central Government Forest and Tourism departments and national and international experts.

Inaugurating the conference, Commerce and Industries Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya said that the number of tourists coming to India is constantly increasing due to people's increasing interest in India's religious and spiritual traditions. He said that our country's pious rivers, famous pilgrimages in Himalaya, dense forests and wildlife diversity are centre of attraction of domestic as well as foreign tourists. Employment opportunities can be made available with a low cost investment in the tourism sector. He said that tourism business will especially be beneficial for employment to rural people apart from ensuring overall development of such regions.

Industries Minister Mr. Vijayvargiya informed that besides speedy industrial development, basic facilities have also increased in Madhya Pradesh, which has become a leading state now. International airports have come up at Indore and Bhopal and air travel facility has also been extended to Gwalior and Jabalpur. These facilities will help increasing tourism activities in the state. He hoped that important conclusions drawn after comprehensive discussions by international experts at the conference will benefit wildlife tourism sector in the state.

In his welcome address, Joint President of Tourism-related National Committee of Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Chairman of Club Mahindra Holidays Arun Nanda threw light in detail on the possibilities of development in forest and wildlife tourism in India.

Tourism Society of India founder member Krishna Kumar Singh informed that wildlife diversity in our country is the main attraction of tourists. New possibilities of development have come up after 1980 in the wake of increased participation of private sector. Livelihood opportunities for people living near National Parks and sanctuaries have also increased. Air travel facilities in the concerning areas have also given a fillip to socio-economic development. He said that the private sector is contributing to protection of forests and wildlife with full responsibility without affecting local climate.

The conference was also addressed by Regional Director (West) of Government of India's Tourism Department Ms Roma Singh. She stressed the need for constant review of tourism and eco-tourism development policies.

Experts from South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and other countries are taking part in the conference. During the two-day international conference, extensive discussions will be made on issues pertaining to efforts for making eco-tourism sector more conducive. Intense interaction between representatives of government and industries will also be made during the conference.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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