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Himalayan Tourism and threats

  • Published
    9th Mar, 2023

The Himalayan region offers conditions suitable for several activities, including recreation, adventure or religious pilgrimages. However, some areas suffer due to mass tourism, while others have not fully reached their tourism potential.

  • Tourism is also an important source of income and livelihood for people living in Himalayan regions.
  • According to government think tank NITI Aayog, as of 2018, West Bengal sees the highest inflow of tourists, while the north western and central Himalayan states and Union Territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura also record large numbers.
  • Over the last year, the Union government has laid emphasis on promoting sustainable tourism in the Himalayan region.


  • Ecology under stress: Due to population growth, industrial and commercial activity, the fragile ecology is under a great stress.
  • he common threats are deforestation, soil erosion and pressure on restricted land.
  • Climate Change: Climate change is impacting people and threatening wildlife in the Himalayas.
  • Many glaciers are melting and forming lakes prone to bursting and downstream flooding.
  • Traditional water springs have dried up, limiting the water supply.

Unplanned Urbanisation:

  • The unplanned and unauthorised construction has led to the blocking of the natural flow of water, which eventually results in frequent landslides.
  • Himalayan slopes have become extremely unstable in the last few decades due to increased construction, hydroelectric projects, and the widening of the National Highway.

Habitat Loss:

  • The conversion of forests for agriculture and exploitation for timber, fodder and fuelwood threaten the biodiversity in this region.

Construction of Dams:

  • The creation of numerous dams without due environmental impact assessment could lead to the submergence of arable lands and biodiversity hotspots.
  • Not only would valley habitats be inundated by the creation of reservoirs, but villagers would be displaced.
  • The effect of dams on fisheries and fish ecology is also a matter of concern.

Recent Government efforts:

  • National Strategy for Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Traveller Campaign: It was launched in a summit organised in partnership with UN Environment Programme and the Responsible Tourism Society of India by Union Ministry of Tourism.
  • Swadesh Darshan 2.0: It is a centrally sponsored scheme for development of theme-based tourist circuits in the country to include a vision to set up sustainable and responsible tourism in various projects and initiatives in the Himalayan region.
  • National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem 


  • National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem is among the eight national missions in India’s first ever National Action Plan on Climate Change.

Ecological significance of Himalayas, as stated in the mission document:

  • Himalayan ecosystem is vital to the ecological security of the Indian landmass, which includes Preservation of rich biodiversity, Providing water security as the world’s third ice pole after the Arctic and the Antarctica and Influencing weather patterns throughout the sub-continent.

The mission attempts to address some important issues concerning:

  • Himalayan Glaciers and the associated hydrological consequences,Biodiversity conservation and protection,Wild life conservation and protection,
    Traditional knowledge societies and their livelihood and Planning for sustaining of the Himalayan Ecosystem.

Regulation of tourist inflows:

  • The mission proposed measures to “regulate tourist inflows into mountain regions to ensure that these remain within the carrying capacity of the mountain ecology.”

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