The Gujarat forest department should introduce online booking facility at its three eco-resorts in Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary in the Panchmahal district and “at least use telecom services”. It should also give up the outmoded letter correspondence for better inter-departmental communication. These were some of the suggestions of six PG students of MICA after their recent “rural immersion programme”.
Under a seven-day immersion process, 160 MICA students travelled to rural areas to work on live projects, conduct ethnographic case studies for NGOs, CSR arms of corporates and Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh government organisations. Six students travelled and stayed in the eco-resort facilities located at Bhaat, Targod and Dhanpuri villages around Jambughoda sanctuary. Students cited absence of promotions, marketing, recreational facilities and outdated booking systems as issues marring the flow of tourists to the little-known, 38-odd room accommodation in the resorts run by the state forest department in the region.
“To book a room in the resort, one has to write an application to the Gujarat Department of Forest in Vadodara. The application needs to be approved by the department, who then sends the resorts a letter to inform them of the bookings…This time consuming process does not fit their (visitors) bill and hence, they resort to other options available. This ultimately leads to loss of business to the resorts that also have to pay to the government every month for their earnings….Ideally, the bookings should be made online to make it easy for the customers, however, if the government is shy of trying it, it can at least use the telecom services rather than letters for better communication between the department office in Vadodara and the resorts in Jambughoda,” cites the report titled “Destination Branding and Employment Development” that has been shared with the forest department.
The group also mooted the forest department to let its local staffers in the resorts to have 50 per cent say in its functioning and in making bookings and to start forest safaris, rock climbing and trekking activities. Partnering with private tour operators, hotel booking apps and offering customised packages via membership with an annual fee component to tourists were other suggestions in their field report.
Kinnari Ved, a second year PGDM-C student, said that they also studied the 22 Eco Development Committees (EDCs) in the region and devised communication strategies to promote the work done by the panels as an alternative to villagers so that they use less forest resources.
“We have plans to expand the rural immersion programme to 2 weeks for the 2016-18 batch and will also ready a white paper on the 28 projects done by MICA students,” said L K Vaswani, Adjunct faculty at MICA.