Udupi, Dec 1: Minister for Fisheries, Youth Empowerment and Sports Pramod Madhwaraj said that eco-tourism would be promoted in Udupi district to realise the tourism potential besides safeguarding the interest of the environment.
Madhwaraj, who is also the Udupi district in-charge minister, was speaking after inaugurating an eco-tourism and responsible travel initiative on the picturesque St Mary’s Island, 6.5 km off Malpe beach, on Thursday.
Under this initiative, the island’s ecology, natural heritage and biodiversity would be conserved. This will help improve its international tourism rating. Tourists would be informed about the social and environmental issues and sustainable practices. The reuse of eco-friendly material would be encouraged, while plastic items would be banned on the island.
Facilities which would be provided on the island included food court, huts and gazebo, covered waiting area, first aid, lifeguard duty and safety equipment, seating arrangements, an office set-up, screening at entrance gate, luggage room, night security, street lamps, information centre and a souvenir shop.
Provision has been made to store 15,000 litres of fresh water on the island. Water sports activities available on the island include jet-ski, snorkelling, kayaking, cliff diving, para-sailing, banana ride, circling the island, dolphin sighting, angling, stand-up paddle and swimming. Under Basalt Rock Trail, tourists would be taken to Boulder Beach and Seashell Beach on the island. A Flora and Fauna Trail too is available. Cycling trails and day-time camping facilities would be provided.
The minister said that St Mary's Island was neglected since many years although it has significance in the legacy of ancient rock formation. The columnar rocks in St Mary's is unique which is only found in African islands.
He added that use of plastics would be strictly banned and all possible measures would be taken to avoid the garbage collection. In 2016, the island was declared as zero waste island and beach development committee was directed to take up initiatives in this directions. Rs 80 lakh was spent on building toilets and gazebos in the initial phase, which was introduced recently. The CRZ and archeological restrictions were taken care of, Madhwaraj said.
The minister stressed on curbing the commercialisation of the area and added that the travellers should be charged a decent fare for all facilities offered. The list of the price should be put up so that it is well-defined that the consumer is not overloaded with heavy price. Mantra, company which is in-charge, should be working on safe and eco-friendly stay in the island and it has to pay Rs 56 lakh every year for the Beach Development Committee.
Ecotourism gets a boost in Udupi; Green initiatives launched on St Mary’s Island