The term eco-tourism refers to eco-friendly nature based tourism for nature lovers with enduring passion to admire and enjoy life at its natural best. Different from Mass tourism and luxury tourism, Ecotourism is promoted to conserve nature for the welfare of living beings. It is not about watching nature and deriving pleasure from it, rather it is feeling nature, caring for it and spreading mass awareness. The Tourism Department of Odisha Government has given a new dimension to the tourism sector by promoting ecotourism.
Situated on the eastern coast of the country, Odisha is rich in minerals. Gifted with a bountiful wealth of nature, certain definite measures have been taken for the benefits of local people.
One of the major initiatives taken by Odisha tourism under the eco tourism drive is the conversion of Simplipal and Bhitar Kanika Sanctuary into a National Park. The locals of the region have been made aware of the benefits of this phenomenon. New packages have been launched by the tourism department to lure the nature lovers who will be then encouraged to protect nature. Reception and interpretation centers will be opened up at the entry points of the National Parks and Sanctuaries. Apart from trained tourist guides, the tourists would be offered clean drinking water, good transport network, facility for night stay and quality food under this drive. Local people of the particular ecotourism destination would also be involved in these aspects.
The major ecotourism destinations to be developed under this project are Bhitarkanika Sanctuary, Simplipal National Park, Chandaka-Damapara Sanctuary, Chilika Sanctuary and the Koraput hills.