INDIA: India’s immense diversity presents a challenge not only due to its massive geography but also due to the cultural aspects. Along with this, it pose as a challenge to the foreign tourists and the domestic tourists (to a lesser extent). For example, Rajasthan may be an utter novelty to a foreign tourist as much to a domestic visitor from Kerala but will be less of a culture shock to the latter.
But India’s cultural diversity, historical richness, and civilizational heritage are also its biggest assets. The kind of eclectic cultural experience that India can provide a foreign tourist through the range and depth of its historical monuments, archaeological marvels, architectural gems, unparalleled natural beauty, and mindboggling customs, crafts, cuisines, etc, is simply unparalleled.
Loopholes in Indian travel industry
The obvious challenges faced by Indian tourism such as lack of insufficient infrastructure, connectivity, health, and logistics have been well documented and are being gradually addressed. India is on an unprecedented infrastructure push, which will cast an extremely positive shadow on the future growth of the Indian tourism sector.
No doubt, the creation of world-class tourism infrastructure and logistics across the country is a critical factor. However, there is another equally crucial aspect that continues to be woefully deficient – touristic services, safety, hygiene, and reliable and trained human resources to guide foreign tourists. It is not enough if the Taj Mahal or the Shore Temple is exquisite to the eye. The tourist would need the safety and the ambience of a comforting ecosystem to enjoy and savour them.
A foreigner’s first impression of a country is very important. The visitor should feel welcomed and enter into a comfortable environment. Rules should be applied without being aggressive. Service providers should be helpful without being intrusive, positive without being inquisitive, professional without being indifferent, and tidy without being flashy. Such values will come with the right training.
Measures taken by the Indian Ministry of Tourism
The recently announced decision of the Ministry of Tourism to launch the “Yuva Tourism” campaign holds high potential to harness, orient, and channelize the talent and energy of Indian youth towards constructive development of tourism in India.
As part of the AmritMahotsav celebration, National Tourism Clubs are being established in select schools across India. Some of the main objectives of this initiative are to develop and imbibe touristic interest and temper among students from an early age and educate them about the diverse culture and tourism potential of different regions of India
The need of the hour is to raise awareness among the youth on the need to conserve, protect and nurture our monuments. It also aims to instill in them the value of creating and maintaining the right ecosystem and cleanliness around our cultural assets. Exposure to best practices will lend an important perspective about requirements of safety, security, and comfort level for foreign tourists.
Our youth should appreciate the role of tourism in education. The Yuva Tourism campaign aims to create professionally trained service providers such as tour guides, transporters, tour operators, hoteliers, translators, etc, who will not only take pride in their vocations but also deliver quality services with integrity and proactivism.
Tourism service providers must understand the historical and cultural basis of our architectural assets. Professional training will sharpen and enhance their instinct for the conservation and promotion of our tourism sites.
The campaign will also introduce best tourism practices and instill physical and mental well-being through tourism and education. At the end of the day, it is about developing young ambassadors of Indian tourism.
After all, our national motto is “Atithi Devo Bhava“, meaning ‘Guest is God’. The campaign would equip our youth with a better appreciation of our cultural ethos and ensure that foreign tourist leaves the Indian shores with a piece of our heritage in their hearts.
The emergence of new COVID-19 variants will be attended by inevitable international travel curbs, which will keep international tourists away for quite some time. It is time to build a more resilient tourism economy post-COVID-19 through a digital transition and a shift to a greener tourism system.
In the absence of international tourists, it is therefore critical that attention is now diverted to the development of domestic tourism. All efforts should be targeted to encourage Indian tourists to undertake Bharat Darshans. A robust domestic tourist sector can soften the blow caused by the pandemic.
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