11.Towards an ecotourism policy: global practices and the lessons for Jammu and Kashmir
Mustafa Malik
Abstract: Jammu and Kashmir, the Himalayan state, lying in the northern-most part of India, is famously known as Paradise on Earth for the fact that nature has bestowed the region with immense idyllic natural beauty and unique heritage and culture - an ideal ecotourism destination by all means. The tourist arrivals to the state have steadily kept increasing, even though the state has witnessed turmoil over the past three decades. Unfortunately the state has not seen a similar growth in the eco-friendly tourism infrastructure, even when tourism to the state is being promoted as a peace strategy. The lack of a robust tourism (more specifically ecotourism) policy in the state has led to the haphazard tourism development with uncontrolled consequences on the environment and the local communities. This study conducts an analysis on present state of ecotourism policy in the State, and proposes a sustainable ecotourism policy framework. The study uses benchmarking approach to analyze ecotourism best practices within the country and from selected countries around the world. The proposed ecotourism policy framework will provide insights to the tourism policy makers in the state towards establishing a robust and sustainable ecotourism policy. Keywords: ecotourism, sustainability, policy, Jammu & Kashmir