Definition of tourism
When people leave their homes and environments to travel for some days or short durations to near or far off places for resting or relaxing on beaches, surfing, paragliding, mountain climbing, visiting historical places or centres for medical treatment and for other purposes, it is called tourism. Such stays are normally for a month at the maximum.
Tourism as an industry:
Tourism is a very important industry and a life blood for many countries, because it provides a vital source of foreign exchange for sustenance. There are many small countries that totally depend on tourism.
Which are the world?s countries leading in tourism?
The ten leading countries in the world are: France, Spain, U.S.A., China, Italy, U.K., Germany, Ukraine, Turkey and Mexico.
Cyprus and tourism:
Cyprus is a small country with a total land area of 9,250 square kilometres and a population of 800,000 approx. that has had over 2,500,000 tourists visiting it in recent years. In short, for every Cypriot, Cyprus has over three foreigners visiting their country in a calendar year, which shows the amount of labour and resources that Cyprus invests and pumps in to develop their country as a prime tourist destination considering its territorial size and population.
Other small countries that attract plenty of tourism:
Relatively small countries like France, Spain, Italy, U.K., Poland, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Portugal, Greece, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, some independent island countries in the Pacific, Hawaii and other places attract tourists by the millions and, in comparison, the number of foreign tourists that India attracts is just insignificant. The numbers and the revenues these countries earn are simply phenomenal.
Potentials of tourism in India:
India has immense potentials to develop tourism, because this country is one of the oldest civilisations in the world and a home for many religions, people of different creeds, cultures, ethnic communities, etc. One can see Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis, including people of different cults.
The different regions of India have diverse cultures, cuisines, climates, weathers, sceneries and topography, etc. In this seventh largest country in the world, one can see world?s lofty peaks, deserts, jungles, tablelands, plains, etc. This aside, there are places with perpetual snow and permafrost, extreme weathers and monsoons.
What can India offer?
There are plenty of places of tourist interests, to name a few, Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Raj Ghat, Jantar Mantar, the beautiful beaches of Goa, the verdant scenery of Kerala, the fabulous palaces and forts of Rajasthan, hill stations in Northern India and other places in the country, wildlife sanctuaries that provide haven to different animals and birds, to name a few, tigers, lions, elephants, rhinoceros, deers, bisons, alligators, peacocks, monkeys, bustards, king fishers and many other types of wild life. Then, there are the jungles of the Northeast and its distinct and unique culture. Apart from the existing ones, India can develop thousands of places, including beaches and resorts, a city like Las Vegas (with casinos and all sorts of night life), as tourist destinations. How about taking increasing numbers of foreign tourists to the Wagah Border to see burly, moustachioed Indian and Pakistan soldiers conducting the Beating Retreat Ceremony in the evenings every day? One wonders if such a sort of spectacle can be seen anywhere in the world.
What should India do to encourage and give a boost to tourism?
India should zoom in to attract backpack and low budget tourists and they should be encouraged to stay with families that have accommodation and facilities to provide. They should also have the opportunity to rent tents (and other things required for camping).
In tourist locations, there should be qualified, trained tourist guides and tourist police to take care and protect them for touts, beggars and anti-social elements and it should be the prime duty of the authorities to ensure that these unlawful elements are nabbed and detained or put behind the bars.
Ample facilities should be provided to tourists for adventure sports, historical tours, modern medical treatments and ayurveda, trekking, mountaineering, skiing, paragliding, angling and other pursuits.
The fees for visiting places of historical or tourist interest should be the same for both Indians and foreigners. At present, an Indian tourist pays a certain amount, whereas a foreigner has to pay an inflated amount for visiting the Red Fort in Old Delhi and other places. This is simply preposterous, outrageous and utter discrimination.
Both the Central and State Governments should allocate ample funds to build top quality, all-weather roads, ply meter run taxis and tourists vehicles to deter and compete with operators who fleece tourists by charging hefty fares, build sturdy and well shaded bus stands and waiting rooms at all major railway stations with provision of clean water, establish kiosks where drinking water and refreshments are available.
India should consider tourists coming from abroad or within India as guests because they bring in plenty of revenues and also foreign exchange. Beggars and touts harassing tourists and anti-social elements and bad characters indulging in eve teasing or trying to molest females should be arrested, booked and tried in fast track courts. This will boost the morale of tourists and especially foreign tourists will consider that India as a safe destination with a responsive judiciary that can be relied upon to deliver the goods by punishing the guilty and law breakers.
Many Americans and other people in advanced economies travel to Asian countries, namely India, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines and Malaysia, because medical treatments and surgeries are quite good and cost a fraction of what they cost in their countries.
It is sad to note that since independence, none of the Central Governments that have come to power, irrespective of their political affiliations or, for that matter, any of the State Governments have realised the importance of tourism, the potentials it has to earn mind-boggling revenues and the strength it has to boost the Centre?s as well as States? economies. If they had kept their eyes open and looked around the world, they would have realised that they should accelerate tourism on a war footing.
India needs to improve its road, airports and seaports. India needs qualified and trained tourist guides, who can preferably speak the major foreign languages to assist tourists and make them feel comfortable. India needs tourist police to escort and protect these tourists. India needs more hotels, be it budget type, three, four and five stars. India should encourage cruise liners to bring in tourists to India and, once they land at sea ports, make all arrangements to escort them by road and air to all destinations in India and ensure that they safely return back to their ships.
India has to protect its tourist and historical places, develop new ones and have an effective and aggressive global advertising and marketing campaign to showcase India has a tourist destination that has much to offer.
Finally, tourism can be a major earner of foreign exchange for India, which will further strengthen its economy, make it capable of paying its bills and tiding over other pressing commitments and, to a lesser extent, reduce the sole dependence on industrial production and agriculture ? the second one being dependent on rain.
Author: Nelson Lewis- Bahrain