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Tribal youth to undergo guide training at Karnala and Phansad sanctuaries

The five-day programme conducted by the Government of Maharashtra creates scope for gainful employment and boosting eco-tourism.
Phansad, Maharashtra
Inviting forest trails inside Phansad Sanctuary. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

The Directorate of Tourism (DoT), Government of Maharashtra, in association with the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM), an autonomous under Ministry for Tourism, Government of India, is conducting a special five-day Guide Training Programme for the tribal communities at Karnala Sanctuary and Phansad Sanctuary in Raigad district from August 2 to August 6, 2021.

This is the first ever offline tourist guide training programme being conducted by DoT. A total of 31 local tribal unemployed youth, including 20 from Karnala Sanctuary area and 11 from Phansad Sanctuary area between the age-group of 20 and 35, will be provided the training and awarded certificates on completion of the programme.

The sessions will be divided into two parts: Theory and Practical. The topics include introduction to tourism and industry basics, challenges of the tour guide profession, roles and responsibilities of tour guides, and how to become a good tour guide. Concepts such as biodiversity, nature trails, wildlife etc. in the sanctuary will also be covered, along with training on how to practically conduct walking tours, handling difficulties, difficult tourists, etc. Given the need of the hour, local students/candidates will get an opportunity to study and undergo this training as tourist guides.

Karnala, Maharashtra, guide training, nature trails
Karnala Sanctuary is known for its wide variety of bird life, beautiful nature trails and an ancient hill fort. Image: Priya Pathiyan.
Karnala, Maharashtra, guide training, nature trails
Inside the Karnala Sanctuary. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

The authorities hope that this endeavour will be a catalyst for the growth of the tourism industry in Maharashtra. Aditi Tatkare, State Minister of Maharashtra for Tourism and Guardian Minister of Raigad says, “This initiative by DoT for the unemployed youth of tribal area will definitely prove to be helpful for them. This training programme will further be useful in spreading the glory of our state, as an excellent tourism guide, in different corners of the world. With the help of this programme, high quality tourist guides related to respective destinations in the State, will be ready.”

Although very close to the beaches of Murud Janjira and Kashid, which attract many tourists, the Phansad Sanctuary is relatively unknown. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

Dhananjay Sawalkar, Director, DoT, believes, “There is a lot of scope for tourism in the state of Maharashtra and a huge demand for trained guides in places with diverse tourist destinations. To understand the tourist destinations as well as to make the visit enjoyable and unforgettable, tourists need good guides to provide authentic and relevant information about the tourist destinations. At the same time, proper implementation of the local rules and regulations of tourist destinations as a local guide will be possible. This will also help in creating employment opportunities at the local level.

Every season brings different sights for the nature lover at these sanctuaries. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

This is indeed a timely initiative, given that the tourism sector may be opening up by the end of the year, and having a force of local guides will help attract visitors to these sanctuaries. Our own experience at Phansad last year was mixed, with bullock cart tours being available, but no naturalists available to accompany those who preferred to explore the sanctuary on foot. The tribal youth, with their local expertise and the polish from such a training programme, will make for the perfect guides in future.

Bullock cart tours inside Phansad Sanctuary are popular. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

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