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Thursday, 18 July, 2019, 15 : 44 PM [IST]

PUT THE MONEY WHERE THE MOUTH IS

On a generalised perspective the announcement of INR 100-trillion investment on infrastructure over the next five years seems the only positive step, however tangential, to better India’s tourism prospects in the recent Budget. The implication of better infrastructure is smoother movement and facilities for tourists - both domestic and inbound. But this, frankly, is neither here nor there in the immediate context.

Another statement that the government plans to transform (yet unidentified) 17 ‘iconic sites’ into world-class destinations also brings good tidings despite its non-committal and non-detailed ring.
But where is the money for the tourism industry?

We are also informed that a digital tribal repository will be created, in which photos, videos, details of lifestyle, and traditional arts of India’s folk traditions will be stored. All good, but what about more brick and mortar steps? Well, another sop is that 100 new clusters will be set up by next year to enable 50,000 artisans to come into the economic value chain. Perhaps the unstated suggestion is that by documenting and improving economic aspects of tribals, Indian tourism will also be promoted in some way.

Developing systems for rural economy is fair enough, but it is also time to step out of the Hauz Khas village idea of showcasing Indian arts and presenting Indian culture as a dance drama to tourist groups.

It has been said that some experts now consider ‘immersive tourism’ promoted by the travel industry does not hit the mark it intends to. It comes across as staged authenticity. Tourists don’t really appreciate a fake ‘real-life setting’.

To counter that it has been recommended elsewhere that ‘a village-based impact tourism model can boost tourism by USD 25 billion by bringing 15 million extra tourists to villages alone, creating 100,000 village-level entrepreneurs in the process’. By impact tourism, they mean creating specific local experiences of interacting with village people, developing a short-term project for them along with short-term tourists, in concert with the social organisations with local government support.

All that is good, but the budget doesn’t say much about the UDAN plan of regional connectivity. Good statistics sound fine in print but without researching what tourists really want, it remains a pipe dream.

The Prime Minister is most vocal about promoting Indian tourism to the world. Wish the Budget reflected it in a more concrete manner.

Anurag Yadav
Travel Writer & Industry Expert
The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.
 
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