India's Bengal Tiger.
www.flickr.com user RobRyb
In what's good news for the tourism industry, the Supreme Court lifted the temporary ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves in India yesterday. It didn't come as a surprise that the ban, which had been in place for the last three months, was removed. It had generated a lot of controversy and was going to affect the livelihoods of many people, not to mention government revenue.
Going forward, the Court has stipulated that tourism be conducted in accordance with revised National Tiger Conservation Authority guidelines. It's ordered each state government to prepare a tiger conservation plan that adheres these guidelines and submit it to the Authority for approval.
Amongst other things, the new guidelines propose that tourism should only be allowed in 20% of core reserve areas. If it's already above this, the guidelines say that "the Local Advisory Committee may decide on a time frame for bringing down the usage to 20%." The guidelines also limit the creation of any new tourism infrastructure in the core areas.
There's still a lot to be decided. Meanwhile, hotels and tour operators have breathed a sigh of relief, as national parks in India opened again at the beginning of October following the monsoon.