Dehradun: The concept of eco-tourism has metamorphosed the entire complexion of Binsar Wildlife sanctuary of Almora district. It was not long back when the sanctuary was longing for tourists. However, in a dramatic change of things, the sanctuary is now abuzz with tourists which includes mainly foreigners. 

The credit for this sudden transformation goes to villagers who are now playing the role of tourist guides. The Unique Selling Preposition for the sanctuary has been the perfect amalgamation of nature and culture. The tranquil ambience of the sanctuary mingled with the cultural aspects brought in by the villagers has transformed it into a dream destination for foreign tourists.

The novel initiative by the villagers has earned approximately Rs 10 lakh for five villages in 2010. Surrounded by snow tipped mountains of Himalayas, Binsar sanctuary is situated in deep forest area.

The effort of villagers is even more praiseworthy because the fear of wild animals and lack of protection facilities had previously led to mass exodus of villagers. However, with Binsar sanctuary coming into existence in 1988, things began to change. In 2000, a facelift was given to the wildlife sanctuary, subsequently the concept of eco-tourism was promoted under which tourists can enjoy their trip along with increasing their knowledge about tradition and culture of the region.

A major change was witnessed in 2002-03 as six villages of the region Dalad, Rishal, Satari, Gonap, Katdhara and Ayarpani village got associated with Village Wage Company. Under the association, villagers became share holders and village tourism committees were constituted. Thereafter, rest houses came in existence in these six villages.

As a part of the association, the Forest Department and Village Wage Company held guide training programmes for the villagers. After completing the training programme, the company started sending tourists from Mumbai and Delhi to the sanctuary.

The tourists will now get an opportunity to know the details of the sanctuary, mountains and simultaneously experience the rich culture and tradition of the region. All the steps have yielded fruitful results and after Jim Corbett National Park, Binsar sanctuary is attracting maximum number of tourists in the state.

(JPN/Bureau)