United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has recognized September 27 as World Tourism Day. Came into being in 1970, World Tourism Day plays a major role in raising awareness of the role of tourism within the international communities and demonstrating how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide. Each year a host country is decided and the host of World Tourism Day 2015 is Burkina Faso (A West African Country). There is even a theme selected each year for the celebration and this time it is One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities.
Tourism has played a key role in sustaining economies of several countries; it has also worked out miracles for several destinations by completely getting them transformed. Very rare we notice that each time when we travel, our individual gesture (no matter how big or small) makes a difference. It either combines with other similar acts to culminate to bring a larger change or it individually inspires an anticipated initiative. This year, when World Tourism Day is celebrated with a chosen theme of One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities, we all have the chance to reflect upon our actions as a tourist and pay gratitude to those who have dedicated themselves to use tourism as a means of bringing development and peace in the world. Before we discuss the impacts of tourism in India, we would want you to watch this video as to see how tourism has helped in bringing changes in the world.
We sure hope that you liked this small yet significant video clipping that must have given you a gist of what we trying to portray here. In a country like India, where diversity is the USP, tourism can be deciphered as its main driving force. If the data is to be believed tourism is the largest service industry in India, with a contribution of 6.23% to the national GDP and providing 8.78% of the total employment. India witness more than 5 million annual foreign tourist arrivals and around 1282 million domestic tourist visits (Data of 2014). Also, it is predicted that by 2019, India will be the second largest tourism employer in the world having to make 40,037,000 recruitments. So, you see we can’t actually neglect the power of tourism in the country. But this was just a data analytics and probably numbers to you. We realize that as a traveller, you have all the rights and time in the world to go out there and find out things for yourself but we thought of sharing some of the most prominent ways that tourism is influencing India, so that when you travel to this country, you can keep a record of your actions and how it affects your surroundings.
Ok, we are going to be less circumlocutory in bringing across our point that tourism in India has helped develop rural tourism BIG TIME! With travellers from different countries and culture visiting, hoping to witness an authentic India that they have read about in books, the tourism rate has gone significantly up. Not only foreign but domestic tourists have also begun to take interest in exploring the rich culture and lifestyle of rural India and you will notice that the result of this is incredible! Handicrafts, handlooms, traditional art and even local fairs are now getting its due fame. This in return has resulted in more employment opportunity for the rural. They also have the chance to interact with people different from their own culture and even race, the rural can also utilize this opportunity to learn from the tourists and get a wider perspective towards life.
It is evident that Indian tourism is getting a phase by phase grooming. One of the most important aspects that now owns its personal set of wings in India is Eco-Tourism. Once considered insignificant or may be unnecessary, today eco-tourism in India is prospering significantly. Be it Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in Uttarakhand or the Western Ghats, tourists are seen following a ‘Save the Environment’ ritual by maximizing the usage of eco-friendly products. Several environment friendly resorts have also been set up in different parts of the country and that says a lot. Not so long from now, India shall prosper as one of the finest places for eco-tourism in the world, this is the vision that we all would like to see materialize!
Do you remember Bhuj? Yes, the same city which was one of the worst hits of the January 26, 2001 earthquake. Well, the city suffered so much that hopes were lost for rebuilding it again. But look at the city now! It has not only been reconstructed but has been transformed! AND all thanks to tourism. Bhuj is the only city near the famed White Salt Desert of Great Rann of Kutch, where for past few years Rann Utsav/Rann Festival has started to take place. This festival has not only helped Bhuj but also the rural areas around the white desert in boosting their economy. Today, Bhuj has these tall buildings, nice restaurants and shopping marts for that matter. And it is just not Bhuj who has been benefitted by tourism; there are several destinations in India similar to it.
Social upliftment is perhaps is the package deal for tourism. Once, a place sees a large inflow of tourists, things start to change. There are many aspects to this statement but the bottom line is tourism creates this giant window for an overall growth. Far off in Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, a few NGOs have mushroomed, who work diligently to bring social upliftment with help of tourists. Any tourist, coming from any part of the world can volunteer to teach kids and adult and work towards the environment in Spiti and this has worked out quite well for this place. People are becoming educated and are inculcating skills to start their small scale businesses to win bread (Not bad! Isn’t it?). The point is changes are taking place and not only here in Spiti many places across India and it’s all because people are choosing to volunteer.
It is us – travellers, tourists, visitors, wanderers, explorers, adventurers and wayfarers that bring about small and big changes in the world. We all have the potential to alter the way things were perceived and practiced, we also have the power to restore, preserve and conserve our natural resources and our ancient history. It is our determination and our decision to make a choice that can help find solutions to varied problems worldwide. So, don’t underestimate the power of one, in each of us abide several opportunities and each opportunity is a noble step towards a good change in the world. Think About It! Happy World Tourism Day.
Photo Courtesy: Google Image