BHUBANESWAR: In their efforts to promote sustainable eco-tourism in the post-Covid scenario, the Wildlife wing of Forest and Environment department and Odisha Tourism have joined hands to look at the future by training community members in a big way so that eco-tourism sites can open up soon and be able to run effectively with minimum impact of the pandemic.
The two departments have begun to train and build capacity of managers and community members of all 40 eco-tourism destinations in the State. Destinations such as beach resorts, nature camps and hill stations located in different tribal areas and forest divisions have more than 300 rooms which are managed by around 600 community members of whom 60 per cent are rural women.
As part of on-site training, the community members who manage the sites are being familiarised with safety protocols and best practices so that they conform to all preventive guidelines in Covid-19 such as social distancing, usage of face masks and other protocols prescribed by the Government.
“In our mission to revive tourism and hospitality, we will ensure that Odisha is one of the safest destinations to explore,” Director, Tourism Sachin Ramchandra Jadhav said. For this purpose, the training programmes are being imparted by experts associated with IITTM and IHM, he said.
All nature camps will be equipped with sanitisation equipment and safeguards when they reopen after the situation improves.“We are trying to set a benchmark in Covid management in the country. Our primary objective is to restrict further transmission of the Covid-19 when our nature camps open without compromising the service we have been providing to the visitors at the eco-tourism destinations,” said PCCF (Wildlife) HS Upadhyay.
Booking for reservation with eco-tourism sites has always been contactless as the Wildlife Wing went online since 2016. “Cash booking or on-spot booking is very minimal and restricted to off-season only. Besides, the entry tickets are sold online,” Deputy Conservator of Forest (Ecotourism) Anshu Pragyan Das said. The State, she said, is readying more eco-tourism destinations as construction work of seven sites in several districts including Nuapada, Koraput and Sundargarh is already in progress.