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Thursday, 01 October, 2015, 12 : 00 PM [IST]

No Shortcuts, Please!

P Krishna KumarAnother World Tourism Day has passed, reminding the governments and the policy-makers the world over about the value of this great industry and the innumerable opportunities for economic empowerment that it presents. The theme for this year’s World Tourism Day was aptly decided as ‘One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities’, since last year, the world recorded the billionth traveller crossing his national boundary to explore an alien life, culture, and heritage. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the UN, in his World Tourism Day message, urged everyone to work together to maximise the potential of tourism to drive inclusive economic growth, protect the environment, promote sustainable development, and a life of dignity for all.

The message was loud and clear. While countries can evolve their own strategies for tourism development, taking into account their strengths and weaknesses, these strategies should be based on inclusiveness, environmental sustainability, and ensuring dignity of life for all. In tourism, one size does not fit all, because each country has its own distinct geo-political character.

India’s strength in tourism is built on its rich culture and heritage. The diversity in nature and wildlife, time-tested healing and wellness techniques, can all complement this strength and make it a rare amalgam of destination. Our success in tourism will depend on how we develop and deliver indelible experiences to our visitors around these strengths.

Any attempt to debunk our strengths and mimic other destinations for mere short-term benefits will be suicidal and unsustainable in the long run. It seems there is some amount of frustration growing in the psyche of tourism in India of late, as initiatives like Electronic Tourist Visa (ETV) turned ineffectual. This frustration reflected in the recent words of an industry leader of very high standing.

While tourism can act as a transformative force in alleviating poverty and make a genuine difference in the lives of millions of people by generating employment, everyone has to be vigilant against the vices that can accompany that transformation and act against the spirit of tourism that ensures dignity of life for all. Mansions built on weak fundamentals won’t last long!

P Krishna Kumar
Bureau Chief, New Delhi
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