Ecotourism is defined as that which is rich in natural beauty, ecologically sustainable, with locals benefitting from the sector and with education and interpretation as a major component. For a state which offers a perfect combination of endless beaches, forests and serene backwaters introduction of ecotourism was a smooth and natural process. Economically, through ecotourism, the state offered jobs to close to seven lakhs people in 2003. The state is expected to touch 2 million tourism economy employments in 2012. Though there are close to 50 ecotourism spots in the state, however there are sixteen spots which attract both domestic and international nature enthusiast all through the year. All the sixteen spots offer a variety of adventure sports. For a nature trail enthusiast, the state offers variety, safe and guided opportunity to know the nature in detail. There are sixteen spots eco tourism spots in India’s first planned Ecotourism destination. Thenmala or the hills that flow with honey situated in the foothills of Western Ghats in Kollam District was inaugurated in January 2001. This place also has a unique butterfly park. Konni, another spot popular among tourists in Pathanamthitta district is renowned for its Elephant Training Centre - the oldest of its kind in India. The other popular ecotourism spots are Periyar, the Eravikulam National Park, Aralam, Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary, a part of the Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve, the picturesque Gavi, Rhodovalley, so named because of the abundance of rhododendrons, Nelliyampathy, the Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary, Palaruvi and Thommankuthu or Ezhunilakuthu with its 12 water falls spread over a distance of 5 km in Idukki district. So far, these spots have been relatively unexplored, but the tourism department is now actively promoting these spots to residents outside the state of Kerala as well and extending all support.
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