GUWAHATI, Aug 11 � Tour operators based in Assam have put at rest speculation that the recent Supreme Court order on tourism inside �Core Areas� of Tiger Reserves will adversely affect tourist activities in the State�s wildlife destinations.
The country�s apex court has ordered that all tourism activities be stopped inside the core areas of Tiger Reserves, to conserve tigers and their habitat. It created ripples among a section in the tourism sector.
While it may have implications for some Protected Areas like Kanha and Corbett, �We in Assam need not be concerned,� stated the Tour Operators Association of Assam (TOAA), in a press meet held here today.
According to the TOAA, no tourists can have access to the Core Areas of the parks and sanctuaries in Assam, as the well-defined tourist circuits do not intrude into those highly-protected natural environment. Therefore, the question of tourism being affected by a ban or regulation inside the core areas does not arise in the context of Assam.
The present reality in the case of national parks such as Kaziranga, Manas, and Nameri, which contain tiger populations, is that all tourism activities take place away from core areas in very small and regulated routes.
Moreover, even those areas where safaris are allowed, forest personnel keep a strict vigil to deter any environmentally detrimental act.
�Unlike some protected areas in other parts of the country, there are no construction activities going on in the Core Areas of national parks in Assam,� claimed Bhaskar J Barua, TOAA joint secretary.
Barua told the media that sending accurate information to tourists is essential because misleading messages can result in cancelled bookings and loss to the tourism sector that provides employment to a large number of local people.
Noted conservationist Soumyadeep Datta, underlined the links between tourism and conservation in Assam, and mentioned that a balance between tourist activities and conservation efforts exists in the state till now.
�Tourism activities inside the Protected Areas � not within Core Areas � can also act as a tool of vigilance,� he mentioned. Visitors can report any threats to the environment which they might have observed inside a national park or sanctuary.
Datta expressed support to responsible eco-tourism in Assam, reasoning that such endeavours are also a part and parcel of the conservation movement in Assam. He appreciated the Supreme Court�s order, but added that conservation efforts to protect the tigers should also extend to other areas populated by the species.