In a bid to protect wild animals and promote tourism, the Indian state of Kashmir announced this week the opening of an eco tourism campsite, one that is purported to be the first of its kind.
Eco tourism in India: A new eco-conscious campsite is now open in Kashmir
Made entirely out of natural materials, principally wood and grass, the campsite, set up by the Wildlife Protection Department, is located in a protected area along the historic Mughal Road in south Kashmir, overlooking the Horpora Wildlife Sanctuary in the Shopian district.
Tourists staying in the campsite can expect to see wild animals such as the wild Markhor goat, the Tibetan wolf, brown bears, musk deers, leopards and more than 120 bird species.
The mountainous region of Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for decades. Isolated for almost 20 years due to the difficult political conditions, tourists are slowly returning to the region.
According to the Guardian, in 2002 only over 27,000 tourists dared to visit the Kashmir Valley. This year, according to official figures, between January and July, the region received almost one million tourists, 23,000 of which were international visitors.
The new eco-tourism campsite adds to the list of the existing accommodations in the region. Among these, tourists can choose from hotels, guest houses, lodges and houseboats.
However, the current hotel capacity in Kashmir is not enough for the growing tourist influx.
Gulmar, a ski station and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region, has a total of 1,500 guest rooms. Houseboats, a popular form of accommodation in the valley represent a total of 2,694 guest rooms.