New Delhi, May 21: Conserving biodiversity and promoting sustaible tourism by working with local communities needs to be the focus of the tourism industry, say researchers. In the Hindu Kush Himalayas alone, nearly 71.5 million tourists visit every year, say researchers of an intertiol institute. They say tourism in the Hindu Kush plays a potentially significant role in addressing poverty through the creation of jobs, skills and income for thousands of people. Conservation and the sustaible use of biodiversity is essential for providing long-term benefits to the region’s residents, say researchers Janita Gurung and Anu Kumari Lama of Kathmandu-based Intertiol Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (Icimod). While Gurung is a Biodiversity Conservation and Magement Specialist with the institute, Lama is a Tourism Specialist. This year’s theme of Intertiol Day for Biological Diversity that falls on Monday is ‘Biodiversity and Sustaible Tourism’.
The researchers say the scenic landscapes, forests, lakes, mountains and farmlands attract many tourists to the Hindu Kush — one of the world’s most diverse mountains systems spanning 4.3 million sq km of land across eight countries from Afghanistan to Myanmar. It is a storehouse of biodiversity — ranging from the highly elusive snow leopard to the markhor, a wild goat famed for its twisted horns, and to the one-horned rhinoceros. The snow leopard is found in the Karakoram, Hindu Kush, and Himalaya ranges spanning across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chi, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. (ians)