ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Ecotourism, Sustainable Development and the Indian State

Ecotourism, defined as responsible travel to natural areas, that conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people, has caught the attention of diverse interests, both as an economically profitable leisure activity, and as a means of conservation and development. In light of the recent debates surrounding the formulation of ecotourism guidelines for tiger reserves, this article undertakes a critical analysis of some of the ecotourism policies and programmes of the Indian government so far. It evaluates the ecotourism discourse specifically within the paradigm of sustainable development, which forms its legitimising base. The fragmented nature of ecotourism policies and practices and the resultant trade-offs unearthed, are then traced back to the contradictions and vagueness inherent in the very conceptualisation of ecotourism as a tool of sustainable development. This shows that revisions in guidelines, without a critical evaluation of the underlying conceptual basis, will not sufficiently address all the lacunae entailed.

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