Udhagamandalam: It was just a matter of time before the number of domestic tourists visiting this hill station touched the 30 lakh mark, said the Nilgiris Collector Anandrao V.Patil here on Monday.
Inaugurating a seminar on ‘Economic, Social and Ecological Implications of Tourism in the Nilgiris’, organised by the Department of History and Tourism of the Emerald Heights College for Women, he said that the annual inflow has been steadily rising. While it was about 19.05 lakhs during 2005, it went up to 23.20 lakhs during the following year and touched 24.20 lakhs during 2007.The inflow of foreigners during the corresponding period was 23,606, 36,000 and 37,200.
During the first two months of this year 3.50 lakh domestic tourists and 9500 foreigners have visited the Nilgiris. Stating that the administration would give a boost to heritage tourism, he said that rural tourism was beginning to establish roots in places like Kannerimukku. Wildlife tourism had a great deal to offer here. College and school students should help keep this holiday destination clean. Pointing out that tourism now was one of the most developed sectors in the world; he said that many of the highly advanced western nations like Switzerland, Austria and France were using profits earned through tourism to fund their social and economic activities. Tourism accounts for 10 per cent of the world’s income and employs almost one tenth of the world’s workforce.
From the ecology point of view it was more acceptable and preferable than any other industrial product as it was environment friendly. M.R.Srinivasan member of the National Security Advisory Board regretted that this hill station now presented a dirty look. The existing infrastructure not being commensurate with the heavy inflow of tourists was a major contributory factor. Pointing out that the eco-system of the Nilgiris was extremely fragile, he said, ‘we will lose it if we do not take care of it now’. The locals should be made aware of the need to nurture nature. Scenic spots should be protected. The construction of a rope way connecting Mettupalayam, Coonoor, Udhagamandalam and Gudalur should be considered. It should be ensured that eco-tourism was promoted by making the least demands on nature. In protecting the environment, if people do not fall in line, strong penal action should be considered. The Executive Director, Tea Board R.D.Nazeem said that tourism which affected the environment should not be encouraged.
The possibility of promoting adventure tourism here should be explored. While developing the sector one should not lose sight of the carrying capacity of various places. The Principal, Emerald Heights College for Women, K.Vimala welcomed the gathering.