Uttarakhand has a vast potential which can be developed to attract tourists as per the theme of 2017, International Year “Sustainable Tourism – A tool for Development”
Brig K.G.Behl (Retd)
Former, Dy. Surveyor General,
Survey of India
Tourism is an important tool for development, and a vital source of income for many countries. This activity is essential to the life of nations because of its direct effects on the social, cultural, educational, and economic sectors of societies and on their international relations.
Every time we travel, for whatever reason, we are part of a global movement. It has to be ensured that the number of tourists goes up and for that we have to provide them more and more facilities in order to attract them. Besides the facilities already available have to be improved and more infrastructure created which may be of liking to the tourists.
It is learnt that last year alone, 1.235 million travellers crossed international borders in one single year. By 2030, this 1.2 billion will become 1.8 billion. The question, as we celebrate World Tourism Day 2017, is how we can enable this powerful global transformative force. These 1.8 billion opportunities will contribute to make this world a better place and to advance sustainable development in different phases. According to the Secretary-General , UNWTO “This World Tourism Day, wherever you travel, remember to respect nature, culture and your host”.
Even our Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his monthly programme of “Mann ki Baat”, has laid stress on travelling within the country to experience the fragrance of Indian diversity and making efforts to learn about culture, attire and eating habits of different State’s. Such incursions will also help tourism industry and will reflect peoples mind and expressions. It may also imbibe the spirit of ‘Swatch Bharat” when people go around and see the improvements needed. He quoted the single handed cleanliness effort of a Kashmir Youth in cleaning Dal lake. He also urged people to take up Khadi, which will help Khadi industry at grass root level. The Prime Minister expressed concern when people visit foreign countries and get impressed by mere superficial glitter but often do not know enough of the countries enormous diversity.
Total number of tourist visited India from different countries during 2015 numbered 8027133. The United Kingdom (U.K.) has been the third largest amongst tourist generating markets for India in the year 2015. The arrivals grew from 1,16,684 in 1981 to 8,67,601 in 2015 .
Tourism revenue in Uttarakhand in 2015-16 is likely to cross about Rs 6900 cr. In May last year, 600,000 tourists visited the pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand. Taking the average cost of the trip around Rs 15,000 per head during May, lot of revenue gets generated. The tourists are ready to pay more if more facilities are made available to them. As such we are to ensure that more number of tourists are attracted to visit Uttarakhand. For this we have to create more such tourists resorts which may attract them and provide more facilities to attract them. Not only foreign but Indian tourists too have to be attracted to visit various Dhams in addition to “Valley of Flowers”, Wild Life Sanctuaries and Natural pollution free surroundings.
Tourism brings in large amounts of income into a local economy in the form of payment for goods and services needed by tourists. It also creates opportunities for employment in the service sector of the economy associated with tourism. The tourists can be attracted to purchase attractive articles made by cottage industries which are unique of that area and depict cultural and spiritual heritage.
The services which benefit from tourism include transportation, such as taxi service, airlines, hospitality services, such as accommodations, including hotels and resorts; and entertainment venues, such as amusement parks, shopping malls, music venues, and theatres. This is in addition to goods bought by tourists, including souvenirs, clothing and other attractive supplies.
The consolidation of tourism’s economic influence has built up its social responsibility and political relevance, with a growing number of countries allocating a stronger mandate to tourism in economic and development policy planning.
Tourism can be conducive to advancing sustainable development from the grassroots level. Community based tourism involves the local population in the decision making process according to local priorities. Tourism thus becomes a catalyst of social cohesion and change going beyond the immediate impact of job creation and its positive economic consequences.
Tourism is a plan to travel for recreation, leisure, religious, family or business purposes, usually of a limited duration. Tourism is commonly associated with trans-national travel, but may also refer to travel to another location within the same country. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people “travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”.
India is a popular resort for tourists since it has got a variety of natural, cultural, historical and religious centres which tourist like to visit. But India has not been able to develop infrastructure needed for such tourism. Inspite of the fact that there is a big potential to develop in many States.
Switzerland has developed into a very big potential for tourism. Switzerland, had a similar climate, terrain, area and population as of Uttarakhand, when they faced a similar or rather worst disaster . But they planned and relocated its towns and roads network keeping in view the tourists interest in mind and rehabilitation of the people so that all get suitable works to earn their livelihood and settle down there. Moreover Uttarakhand has got Chaar Dham, the pilgrimage centres and also the Sikhs shrine of Hemkund Saheb, which can be made into large tourist attractions. Besides valley of flowers and other herbal plants at other locations with zero pollution can be developed into tourist resorts.
Now once we talk of the hills the first things we encounter is the rugged terrain which consists of a variety of slopes and shapes with its upper surface constituting of either soil mixed with rocks and boulders or the vegetation the form of trees with variety of shrubs and other growth covering the region. The water which flows down the hills in form of rivers and streams is another attraction. The vegetation too is limited to height about 4000 meters and above that its only snow with glaciers and snow clad hills which are themselves a wonder to watch.
Lately tourism has become a popular global leisure activity. Tourism can be domestic or international. International tourism has both incoming and outgoing implications on a country’s balance of payments. Today, tourism is a major source of income for many countries, and affects the economy of both the source and host countries. India must develop all its tourist places to attract tourists from abroad so that the economy of the country could be improved to have sufficient funds for development.