BENGALURU: This year has been declared by the UN as the The International Year of Sustainable Tourism, and Bengaluru is right on it with travel agents saying that most of the city now prefers to bask in the lap of nature.
Travel aggregators say that over three years, they have seen a four-fold increase in such bookings with 75 per cent of their tours to greenscapes and wildlife destinations.
Jayanth Sharma, co-founder & CEO, Toehold says, “I suspect there are people who spend a minimum of Rs 3 to 5 lakh a year on wildlife/ecotourism related travel. A few dozen of them who deal with us spend over Rs 10 to 15 lakh per annum in wildlife tourism. Some of them do international wildlife destinations such as Antarctica that costs more than Rs 7 lakh plus travel along with at least 5 to 8 weekend and short trips within India. We also have a growing number of teenagers doing wildlife camps which also include a nearly Rs 2 lakh package to Africa.”
Aloke Bajpai, co-founder and CEO, Ixigo, adds, “We have seen a steady year-on-year growth of about 25 per cent in the queries received around eco-tourism.” There has also been a one per cent increase in the hotel bookings in the eco-tourism spots, says Bernard Corraya, GM, Wego India.
Everyone Loves Tigers
The most popular destinations in the state include Kabini, Bandipur, Nilgiris, Agumbe, Coorg and Shivamogga. Several Bengalureans are hooked on to the tiger tourism areas as well such as Ranthambhore and Bandhavgarh. But within Bengaluru, Bannerghatta is the top choice, adds Bernard.
Many from the IT industry, practicing doctors, businessmen, builders and government servants too visit these places. Most of the tourists are millennials, say the travel aggregators. Jayanth adds, “There are some 50 to 70 year olds as well who travel.”
Hobby and Lifestyle
Chetan Jain who claims to be an eco-tourist says he travels at least two to three times a year to places such as Kabini and Chikkamagaluru. “I prefer to travel this way as it helps me get away from the city life and refreshes me. Also, as photography is my hobby, it also provides good opportunities to click great pictures.” Chetan who runs an interior designing business also practises environment conservation in his daily life. “I do my best to conserve water and other resources.”
Another outdoor enthusiast Sudhir Paul travels four to six times a year to the Western Ghats and Himalayas. He’s into birdwatching and wildlife photography as well.