Ram Rattan Sharma
Tourism has emerged as one of the world’s largest industries, growing rapidly in the last two decades , today it accounts for more than 7 percent of world output and employs some 150 million people around the world. Since the end of the second world war, it has developed immense revenue and development potential and stands today as a unique natural renewable resources industry. Tourism, the travel based recreation provides people with a change of place and a break from the monotony of daily life. It brings peoples of different nations together allowing them to come into close contact with each other’s customs and other aspects of life. It reveals the scenic beauty and past heritage of a country to people belonging to other nations. The knowledge and experience gained in the process can lead to greater understanding and to tolerance, and can even foster world peace.
The contribution of tourism to the economy is striking. A study conducted by the united nations has shown that developing countries, in particular, can reap handsome benefits out of tourism which greatly boosts national income. Tourism also helps in healing the balance of payments situation. To ensure a circulating economy, even countries not relying on tourism to a great extent promote internal tourism. Tourism generates employment and adds to the entrepreneurial wealth of nation, while tourism has several advantages, it also has some undesirable side effects. Some socio-cultural effects of tourism have been damaging . Tourism often ushers in new life style, arrangements as desired by tourists are provided in order to make them feel at home. The emergence of this culture in various places has caused dissatisfaction among the local people. The local people tend to imitate foreign values breaking away from their own traditions for momentary gains. The poor local are sometimes tempted to present themselves as objects of cultural curiosity. Thailand, a beautiful country has become better known as a hot destination amongst tourists round the world for sex tourism, that this may hurt the pride of the sensitive people of the nation is of no concern to the state authorities, and those who use sexual attractions to make a fast buck. Though this problem is not so wide spread in India , here too have been disturbing reports, under the guise of “Health Resorts”.
Tackling problems posed by tourism is necessary for once the natural resources and historical monuments are lost , tourism itself will collapse. The world tourist industry has awakened to this fact and has begun considering tourism related environmental issues. “Environmental friendly” or green tourism has been stressed in the Alps a tourist attraction, that accounts for a quarter of the world’s revenue from tourism but which has been heavily degraded due to over use. To prevent over use , tourism must be conducted within planned limits. Keeping in mind factors like ecological balance and health safety.
Tourism cannot be allowed to play havoc with traditional cultures in sheltered societies. To contain the Socio cultural setbacks of tourism it is necessary to realize that cultural decline, which has already set in due to new technologies, and communication, is encouraged in a degrading way. Once the locals set themselves up as cultural show pieces for visitors. ,to promote safe tourism while ensuring that it remains a profitable industry, it is imperative to understand the factors that hamper the growth of tourism and check them effectively. General instability of the nation is damaging to tourism prospects. The growing violence in the international scene and increasing threat of terrorism affects the flow of tourists, whatever the problems, India must work hard to reap the benefits from this industry for the country, which has everything to attract visitors from far and near.
The monuments of a civilisation going back into the hoary past, dot the country. There are Ancient Buddhists stupas and Hindu temples, Mughal and Rajput palaces, forts and victory towers rock-cut caves and elaborately laid out gardens. There are so many things to see in India where ever you go. And the variety is impressive. The beautiful blend of architectural styles and scientific planning of those old buildings is a marvel. If the snow capped Himalayas and the formidable desert of Rajasthan do not appeal to all there are the picturesque hill stations in the lower hills. There are the vast beaches of the east south and west. There are forests and wild life sanctuaries, and there are adventure sports for those who want action trekking and mountaineering, skiing, rafting and canoeing in the turbulent Himalayan rivers and hand gliding.
There are many cultural diversions to attract the aesthetic sensibility. The cuisine offers enough variety to please diverse tastes from Mugalia to Rajasthani, from South Indian to Punjabi. India, Perhaps, offers the greatest number of mouth watering cuisines among the countries of the world. The textiles, arts and crafts offer wonderful glimpses of India and are lovely gifts. Inspite of India’s enormous potential, the tourism industry has failed to show good results as could be expected . The share of India’s tourism Industry in the world at present is very low. On the other hand, Malaysia and even South Africa, which are very small countries with limited tourism potentials, corner an impressive share of the tourism pie of the world. This aspect is difficult to understand, given the country’s attraction owing to its rich historical heritage and the mystique of its cultural diversity. Every part of India hears the legacy of ancient eras in the form of monuments and other architectural glories, to add to such attraction is the fact that India is one of the cheapest vacation grounds. Then why does the country fail to utilize the benefits of tourism.
Tourism has also suffered from poor packaging and promotion. Marketing tactics in India have not been employed to project the outstanding appeal of India in an attractive way. Greater market segmentation and targeted marketing are required to yield greater benefits for tourism. These problems must be faced and clear sighted solutions sought to make India an attractive tourist destination.
(The Author is former Dy Librarian University of Jammu)
Ram Rattan Sharma