Probably no other state in the Himalaya is more suited to ecotourism development as is Sikkim the land of the mystique! It's not easy to find Sikkim on the map unless one is specifically looking for it. With its unique location bordering the Kingdom of Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet and West Bengal, what Sikkim lacks in size is made up in the grandeur of its Himalayan Scenery The melting snow from the peaks cascades down mountain sides to form numerous waterfalls, rivers and valleys! The true grandeur of Sikkim however is to be discovered in the variety of its Himalayan Flora and scenery. With its elements of nature based tourism highlighting unique natural, floral, faunal and cultural diversity, the IHCAE has now decided to market its unique rural areas to responsible tourists thus improving the welfare of its local communities through active participation in the ecotourism process.
Eco-tourism : A form of tourism that involves travelling to natural areas with the specific objectives of learning, admiring and enjoying nature and its wild plants and animals as well as localpeople's cultural aspects including religious monuments,while conserving the natural and social environment,and improving the welfare of the local people.
Ecotourism Activities : Activities coordinated by a qualified nature and cultural interpreter designed to entertain and educate clients.
Sustainable Ecotourism Development : Development of ecotourism in the state of Sikkim, which meets the needs and aspirations of the current generation without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future generations.
Ecotourism Assets : Natural and cultural features that attract visitors, such as landscapes, endemic or rare flora and fauna, local agricultural products, local cultureincluding festivals, local folktales, history, historical monuments and heritage sites.
Ecotour Operators : Tour operators specializing to cater ecotours collaborating with local people focused on local nature and culture based tourism.
Eco-tourism Products : A combination of activities and services which are sold and managed through qualifiedecotour operators including local communities or individuals.
Eco-tourism Services : Services including transportation, local cuisine, camping, home stay, guiding and interpretation. These services should cause minimum damage to the natural and cultural environment and promote a better understanding of the natural and cultural aspects of an area.
Interpretation : Interpretation is a way to communicate that helps visitorsto understand and appreciate the community resources. Interpretation includes facts, but also reveals the reason of the importance of those facts so that visitors are able to understand why the resources should matter to the individual visitors. Interpreter is a person who provides interpretation in natural and cultural areas, interpretation center, parks and etc.
The objectives of the guidelines described below are to conserve the biodiversity and ecosystem of the Protected Areas in Sikkim and address the rules for trekkers, mountaineers, tour operators, guides, researchers and all other visitors to the Protected Areas. Guidelines set out for the outside of the Protected Areas for the ecotourism operators and guides operating within Sikkim attempt to facilitate the nature conservation as well as ensure their clients safety.
The following guidelines are defined by the areas which are Protected Areas and the outside of the Protected Areas.
Two guidelines, one for "Guidelines for Ecotourism Operators and Guides", and the other for "Guidelines for Visitors and Research Scholars" for the Protected Areas are described below.
Guidelines for service providers include ecotourism operators and guides are as follows.
The IHCAE is positioning itself as a premier institute for development of Eco-tourism enterprise in the State of Sikkim as well as the South Asian Region. Sikkim has got umpteen example of establishing Eco-tourism enterprise in the state successfully doing a variety of activities such as Interpretation based trekking, Mountaineering, Bird Watching etc. With a mandate to develop Eco-tourism enterprises in the state and spread the cause of Eco-tourism the institute plans to offer the following courses in the near future.