Odisha to begin Training Naturalists, Guides for Eco Retreat

As Odisha gears up to host the second edition of the Eco Retreat this winter, the state government will soon begin training local community members to host tourists. These locals will act as naturalists and tourist guides and will be deployed at the key places of attraction. The Eco Retreat will be held at five destinations across the state this time around.

The naturalists and guides will be tasked with showing tourists around, explaining them about the socio-cultural importance and landscape of the area during their visit. They will also take visitors on treks, bird watching, boating among other activities.

The Odisha Wildlife Wing has signed an MoU with the Biodiversity Board for the training of approximately 600 community members. About 50 per cent of these are said to be women. Institute of Hotel Management and Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management have been tasked to conduct the training programme.

“Since we have planned Eco Retreats from December to February, we want the naturalists and guides be trained well before the events,” said Tourism Director Sachin Ramchandra Jadhav.

“The trained naturalists and guides will accompany the tourists during day tours planned to be organised during the events. There will be a fixed remuneration for them to be paid by the tourists. Such an arrangement will boost the local economy,” he added.

The volunteers will receive multilingual training ahead of the event. “Well conversant with local flora and fauna and landscape, the community members will be trained in Odia, Hindi and English languages. The naturalists will be deployed at 40 eco-tourist sites,” said Deputy Conservator of Forests (Eco-Tourism) Anshu Pragyan Das.

After a hugely successful first edition of the Eco Retreat conducted at the Ramchandi Beach, Konark, it will be interesting to see if Odisha can replicate the success at the new locations.

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