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Need to develop tourist culture

Monday - January 21, 2019 7:16 pm , Category : WTN SPECIAL

WTN: Tourism is one area which has immense potential in India. It has seen exponential growth over the last decade or so but huge potential remains untapped. Many states, especially of the south, traditionally being tourist hotspots, still hold the top spots, making great strides in innovation, infrastructure investment and sprucing up of facilities, making them lucrative holiday destinations.

Madhya Pradesh is one state which has laid great stress on developing the ‘Heart of India’ into a big draw for tourists and taken many steps accordingly. It has smoothened its roads, spruced up infrastructure, built idyllic cottages besides river banks and sylvan valleys, improved power and policing, started nature trails and treks and facilitated package tours and caravans, apart from embarking upon zealous campaigning through means of mass media.

MP has infinite possibilities and opportunities to exploit and harness the natural gifts it is endowed with. It has expansive hills and greens, intercepted by resplendent waterfalls, it has a rich wildlife replete with species of myriad varieties, huge rivers and religious springheads, eco-tourism destinations and historical wonders which few states can boast of. With the exception of the sea, it has perhaps everything else that goes into making a top class tourist destination. But complacency has no place in a fiercely competitive world. Despite having the best of everything, India is still not among the top ten global tourist hubs like say Dubai or the US. India is still known as a place of squalor and poverty. Much needs to be done. A few tourist pockets like Pachmarhi or Mt Abu or Khajuraho won’t do. We need to have a comprehensive and inclusive growth plan as part of a long-term strategy. Small countries like Sri Lanka and Singapore so well sell their tourism that it earns them major chunk of their international revenue. But not so yet in India.

Most tourist destinations here are crowded and mismanaged. Hotels are haphazardly built. Streets are littered and narrow. Thugs and cheats abound. Taxis and porters fleece brazenly. Cows and dogs add to the road mess already chaotic with erratic vehicles and hawkers encroaching upon. The police are uncooperative and bank ATMs won’t work. These things are typical Indian experience which no sensible tourist will give in to. Animal corridors are blocked by illegal tourist resorts. Louts and waifs enter protected monuments, write on the walls, and whistle at girls, while no one does anything. Even urban, upper-class tourist groups are crass and callous, who recklessly damage environment and ambience. There are garbage dumps and overflowing drains and stench even in famous tourist destinations. There is crowd, litter and depleted grass cover even in front of India Gate—a slur on the image of the whole country. Small towns are bereft of proper power and medical facilities and the hotel and taxi people are ill-behaved, ill-clad.

All these things dent the prospects of tourism in our country. These things may not be pronouncedly seen at all times in all locations, but a general image and reality of Indian tourism is largely so. In MP the situation is not that bad, may be because of less density of population and large expanses of openness that absorb much of the chaos, crowd and dirt. But then, MP’s tourism potential has not been fully tapped yet.

Tourist flow is not anything phenomenal, compared to Gujarat or Kerala, though avenues are as many. When tourist inflow spikes, it may be hard to protect the ecology and environs from the gush. The state needs to be prepared for that, because apart from adding facilities, it is also important to ensure their proper upkeep, maintaining a standard regularly, so that they don’t fall back into neglect and dilapidation. A tourist culture needs to develop, like that in Kerala, where every individual chips in, in any way he could, to make tourists feel good about everything. A tourist culture has got ingrained in their genes, they know a guest is an asset and needs to be valued. Unless this trend impregnates the psyche, unless an obsessive fad for inviting tourists and serving them grips us, any seminal development in the sector will become a far-fetched, tardy and tedious process.-Window To News