Sustaining local communities

Ecotourism as a learning tool for sustainable development
"Higher governmental levels might support sustainable tourism as a learning tool and catalyst for sustainable development of Tosamaidan Meadows Budgam."
"Higher governmental levels might support sustainable tourism as a learning tool and catalyst for sustainable development of Tosamaidan Meadows Budgam." File/ GK

Meadows of Great Tosamaidan represent a significant potential for the development of ecotourism, a form of a tourism that takes place in natural areas, sustains local communities and involves a learning experience. It might look like the perfect tool to strengthen the link between conservation and sustainable development.

A mega Event on sustainable tourism were organised by Tosamaidan development fourm at Tosamaidan last week. Director Tourism Kashmir, Special Secretary Revenue, ADC Budgam, CEO Tourism Development Authority, Budgam and Chief Education Officer, Budgam participated in the event to explore the possibility for Eco tourism, rural tourism, and adventure Tourism to act as a learning tool.

Results show that the sustainable tourism had some positive effects, such as the creation of a network for collaboration between various stakeholders.

Higher governmental levels might support sustainable tourism as a learning tool and catalyst for sustainable development of Tosamaidan Meadows Budgam.

Mountains are important tourism destinations worldwide and hence Tosamaidan, the king of the meadows in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir, can also attract visitors for its scenic beauty, well planned sports attractions and rich cultural heritage of indigenous communities like Gujjar, Bakerwal, Chopans and others. Planned and sustainable tourism could be a source of income and economic opportunity for these remote rural mountainous communities. It can also help to revitalise local traditions and food systems.

In developing tourism in Tosamaidan, it is critical to generate income diversification and revitalise products and services, with a shift from high-impact tourism products and activities to low-impact, climate-sensitive ones. New and innovative products can transform Tosamaidan area into attractive tourist destination. Among the many possibilities are astronomy tourism, community-based tourism, spiritual tourism, wellness tourism, rural tourism, agri-tourism and cultural tourism.

Mountain ranges worldwide offer possibilities for a wide variety of tourism activities, of which some are more developed than others. Some of these possibilities could fit best in the case of Tosamaidan:.

Winter and sports tourism:

Activities may include cross-country, alpine and glacier skiing, heli-skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing and tobogganing.

Walking tourism:

This will allow visitors to experience mountain landscapes, flora and fauna, as well as local cultural heritage. If properly planned and developed, it can bring a variety of economic and social benefits to residents and communities, particularly as a source of summer income for villages near and around Tosamaidan.

Given increasing consumer demand for ‘experiencing’ a location in an authentic way, coupled with the growing popularity of active tourism, walking tourism has the potential to showcase Tosamaidan’s landscape as a whole, including its local culture and nature.

Adventure and sports activities can be carried out in Tosamaidan during and outside the snow season. They depend on weather conditions and site access. Such activities include mountain biking, zip-lining, quad biking, horse-riding, rock climbing, ice climbing, paragliding, zorbing and caving. They also include freshwater-based adventure and sports activities, such as river and lake tours, canoeing, sailing, windsurfing, paddle-surf, kite surfing, kayaking, rafting and freshwater fishing.

Rural tourism:

Rural tourism is a “type of tourism activity in which the visitor’s experience is related to a wide range of products generally linked to nature-based activities, agriculture, rural lifestyle/culture, angling and sightseeing.

Tosamaidan is a perfect setting for rural tourism, with a low population density; it has scenic landscapes and land use dominated by agriculture and forestry, and is dominated by traditional social structures and lifestyles.

Depending on the host communities, time of year, and the interests of the visitor, shared activities may include agriculture, handicrafts, culinary activities/sampling typical foods, learning about medicinal and native plants, planting, harvesting, making cheese, handling animals and other activities related to daily life in rural communities, including traditional ceremonies, dancing and festivals.

In Tosamaidan region, changes in temperature, humidity, heat and daylight hours are linked to changes in latitude and altitude, all of which may influence ecosystems, human societies, and in turn, tourism attractiveness.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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