Tourism Master Plan for Chilika Lake and its Catchment in Odisha, under ICZM Odisha
Year - 2014 - 2016
Client - Chilika Development Authority, Government of Odisha
Being a Ramsar Wetland Site, Chilika is very special to Odisha and it is a key priority of the state to safeguard it and put into effect all practices that help preserve the delicate eco system of this area. Chilika is an ecological paradise with a wetland spread of nearly 1165 sq.km, facing the Bay of Bengal, but interfaced by a 60 km narrow strip of marshy islands and sand flats. There are more than 25 islands where fishermen families reside living off subsistence fishing. There are more than 160 bird species that migrate in winters and Nalabana Island bird sanctuary within the lake attracts around 400,000 water fowls of different species. Irrawady Dolphins and the Red Crabs, both rare species are also found here. Together they form a set of attractions for a variety of tourists and if responsibly promoted can attract an even bigger draw of visitors.
The Chilika Lagoon is under intense monitoring to ensure there is no Eco-system failure. The special care accorded to this unique and one of the rare sites in the world has been strengthened through the efforts of a specially tailored project, Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP-Odisha). This Centrally sponsored, pilot project aims to protect the lives and livelihoods of coastal communities and help conserve the natural marine and coastal resources. In this regard the project for framing a Tourism Master Plan for Chilika Lake & its Catchment Area has been awarded to us.
As there were no established methodologies available for the required assessments; the approach was to develop primary benchmarks for all types of specific tourism assessments during the project baseline stage. The methodologies differed for diverse segments of the 'Terms of Reference', and were pre-established by us during the various project stages.
Under this project detailed spatial mapping and in-depth assessments have been conducted. Some of these segments include Pristine Area Analysis, Carrying Capacity Assessments, Environment Zoning, Tourism Sub Zoning, Thematic Tourism Cluster and the related recommendations under the Tourism Plan. Four major deliverables namely; Inception Report, Baseline Analysis report, Draft Outline Regional Responsible Tourism Plan and Draft Project profiles for investment opportunities have been submitted to the client.
Consistent stakeholder consultations at all levels formed the other cornerstone of the approach. Involvement of mixed stakeholders groups at various stages was ensured for overall social and entrepreneurial acceptability of the plan. The approach ensured that the proposals in principle are a win-win situation for all the social, environmental and financial components of the project and also aimed to bring in long term benefits to the local dependent community.
The key achievements under the project are the intense amount of primary work been undertaken. Several models have been evolved for pristine area assessments (at Terrestrial, Waterscape and Coastal levels), Matrix for tourism assessments, criteria identification for specific type-based tourism assessments and a prototype for carrying capacity computations for tourist boats in a water body.
- Carrying Capacity - Contributing to sustenance by limiting boating to the carrying capacity : The 4f Approach (Floating Boats; On water Flags, Federation for boating, Chilika Forum);
- Infrastructure, Branding and Marketing for Tourism at Regional Level ;
- Responsible Tourism in the identified clusters;
- Developing Mangalajodi as an International Birding Destination;
- Community Based Eco-Tourism Provision;
- Guidelines for Tourism Operators and Boating in the Lake;
- Dolphin and Bird Watching Protocol;
- Code of Conduct for Tourists (Thematic Cluster Based);
- Dedicated Web Portal and Mobile Application for Chilika Tourism.
This project was also focused on promoting private sector investments in responsible tourism based projects and services. One of the key achievements under the project was thus identification of a shelf of projects which can be taken forward as private or Public Private Partnership (PPP) based investments and also to provide sources of information, to promote the region as a responsible tourist destination. The team has successfully identified 10 such projects as investment opportunities under the Tourism Master Plan, Chilika Lake.