While the Indian tourism authorities continue to launch extravagant campaigns to attract visitors, the burden of the increasing numbers of wildlife tourists has goaded the Union ministry of environment and forests (MEF) into preparing guidelines to manage the tourist influx into the various national parks and sanctuaries. Of particular concern are the Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, which is swamped by over 1 million visitors every year, and the Periyar National Park, which has to deal with more than 3 times that number.
The guidelines being prepared include restrictions on the number of tourists allowed into the parks and the imposition of a strict code of conduct. MEF also proposes to protect core areas of the parks and sanctuaries by barring the entry of tourists. And, to ensure that fewer tourists stay overnight, the MEF will encourage day tripping. According to the guidelines, facilities like restaurants and shops will, preferably, be located outside the parks, while distinct areas of each protected area will be promoted for tourism, preferably on the periphery of the park.
The code of conduct for tourists includes a ban on teasing and feeding animals, carrying firearms, swimming in lakes or rivers, and speeding. Besides, the use of minibuses will be encouraged, to curb the movement of the numerous individual vehicles.
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