Bhopal: Despite the mercury hovering around freezing point, forest buffer zone of Madhya Pradesh witnessed rush of tourists for New Year Celebrations. Enthusiasm of the tourists resulted in flooding of forest department resorts and Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC) properties this New Year. The resorts are sold out from last five days and the scenario will remain the same till January 5 in Madhya Pradesh.
Both MPTDC as well as Forest Department have number of resorts to promote tourism in buffer zones. Besides, there are private players who have opened their resorts in buffer zone. Domestic as well as foreign tourist book resorts on-line during this peak season.
Tourists have to pay 20 per cent more during peak season but even though, rooms are fully booked in buffer zone of forest areas. Madhya Pradesh government scaled up tourism activities in buffer zones — areas of land outside the core regions for environmental protection — of tiger reserves to promote the locales and improve the source of income for the residents.
Managing Director (MD) MPTDC lliyaraja T said, “We have 1250 rooms in various resorts all over forest areas of the state. Domestic as well as foreign tourists flood during such peak season. With even 20 per cent hike, our hotels are booked. Room ranges from Rs 1,900 to Rs 5,000 for 24 hours. We did fairly good business for last 5 days as resorts are overbooked. Even Pachmarhi, when temperature was below freezing point, resorts were booked. In fact, we have on-line booking facilities.”
Additional Principal Chief Forest Conservators Alok Kumar said, “We have 500 resorts in forest areas. This year, we did good business. Peak period runs from December 25 to January 5. This year, resorts are full in forest areas ranging Rs 4000 to Rs 5000 with good business. Exact business, we have to sum up the entire reports from resorts. And it takes time.”
The buffer forest which was originally community agriculture land has been collectively gazetted for tourism by the community. This helps to reduce the vulnerability of the park ecosystem to human extractive activities such as poaching. This also reduces the incidences of human wildlife conflicts since the wild animals from the park find it hard to access farmer’s crops grown far from the buffer of the Park Forest.