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Wednesday, 21 February, 2018, 17 : 16 PM [IST]

Save Tourism from the Mealy Mouthed

Years of hard work in the industry can be undone by a thick-headed lack of understanding among those at the top or even at the bottom of the tourism tree.
The commentary on the impact of tourists - either positive or negative, on local sensibilities in any destination, should never be a knee jerk reaction. Such reactions lead to reporting that takes away the seriousness of the subject and generates other angles that do nothing other than sensationalise issues.

When the Goa Tourism Minister recently reportedly blamed tourists for disrespecting the state’s culture, there was immense and immediate righteous indignation by even those who silently held the same opinion. There was horrified wringing of hands by one and all on his further graceless remarks about ‘irresponsible tourists’, especially in allusion to a particular state. The indignation might appear genuine disapproval of the indiscretion but scratch the surface and it exposes a virulent social hypocrisy as well.

Political correctness aside, it cannot be disputed that there are enough numbers of unruly domestic tourists whose wayward behaviour must be dealt by the law. And if it is not implemented by the law enforcers, the blame should lie within those complaining as well. However, those in authority need to be very careful with words, even if they repeat sentiments held by most of their constituents- whether well meaning or those with blinkers.

Political correctness aside, it cannot be disputed that there are enough numbers of unruly domestic tourists whose wayward behaviour must be dealt by the law. And if it is not implemented by the law enforcers, the blame should lie within those complaining as well. However, those in authority need to be very careful with words, even if they repeat sentiments held by most of their constituents- whether well meaning or those with blinkers.

The interaction between tourists and hosts is contractual, brief and often impersonal whenever there are barriers to the development of a shared social and interpersonal meaning. The negative fallout of unbridled tourism is a direct result of inadequate planning. It is as much a social phenomenon as an industrial activity.

The interaction between tourists and hosts is contractual, brief and often impersonal whenever there are barriers to the development of a shared social and interpersonal meaning. The negative fallout of unbridled tourism is a direct result of inadequate planning. It is as much a social phenomenon as an industrial activity.

In 1975, this was formulated as Doxey’s Index of irritation which is used for describing the effects of tourists on a host society. To say tourism is the panacea for local growth and development is a blasé and simplistic understanding of impact of tourism in any place. The index actually is a scientifically staggered measure of how tourism grows from euphoria, to apathy to irritation and finally to vocalised antagonism in the host populations. It is a linear sequence of increasing irritation as all sorts of tourists start visiting a destination.

Tourism is everyone’s baby but it seems very few are really interested to rear and bring it up. The buck will always stop at the government’s desk. Developmental and promotional activity is just the first step, not the final one. The department and those in political authority have a bigger responsibility to run the affairs seriously rather than make simplistic comments.

Anurag Yadav
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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