To harness the immense potential hidden in ecotourism, the UP government has initiated the process to set up the UP Ecotourism Development Board. The draft proposal of the board was awarded Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s clearance at an official meeting on Sunday.

“Industry estimates show that about 35% of people, who take to travel, visit ecotourism spots. Incidentally, UP is a confluence of natural, historical, religious and spiritual heritage when it comes to tourism. Therefore, there is a great scope to harness the potential in ecotourism. The board will help in making the most of this opportunity,” said an official statement citing the CM who also issued instructions to officials concerned to speed up the process to set up the board. Tourism officials stated that the initiative will promote the state’s rich legacy of forests and wetlands to increase the tourist footfall while creating jobs for those living around the natural heritage. Departments of irrigation, environment and forest, AYUSH and rural development will work in coordination with the tourism department for infrastructure development and branding of ecotourism sites.

Officials in the forest department said that jungles in Dudhwa, Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheri, Bahraich (Katarniaghat) and Bijnor are some important tourist attractions. “They are the natural habitat of tigers, elephants, deer, crocodiles, dolphins and many species of endangered birds due to the abundant water resources available in them,” they said.

Principal secretary, UP tourism, Mukesh Meshram told TOI that ministers of the concerned departments, additional chief secretary, principal secretary, director general and director as well as qualified officers and experts of the Indian Forest Service should be included in the board. “The CM has directed stakeholder departments to ensure that the proceedings are completed at the earliest,” he added