Indian Tourism-The Real Issue
India is a beautiful country with rich history, culture and diversity. People from all over the world come to India to experience its colorful vibrant tourist attractions and traditions. I don’t see any other country having so much flair and resources to attract people. In 2002,The Government of India started an international campaign “Incredible India” to promote tourism in India. This gave a major boost to tourism in India and the revenue from tourism stood at Rs. 8.31 lakh crores(USD 120 billion) in 2015 which formed 6.3% of nation’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP). India has posted the highest GDP growth of 7.6% establishing itself as world’s fastest-growing large economy thus becoming the most desired investment destination for people across the world. There has been a huge increase in the number of people traveling to India both for leisure and business purpose. In the Travel and Competitiveness Index released by World Economic in 2015,India has moved up to 52nd position. This is the right time for India to strike gold and promote its tourism worldwide.
Though marketing campaigns provide the impetus for promotion of tourism, the real picture lies at the ground level. The beauty of the tourist spot alone does not matter. The right infrastructure and facility needs to be created so that its easy to reach the tourist spot. Also, the tourist spot needs to be maintained and kept clean. This is where India seems to be lagging. The tourist spots are beautiful and special but government has not made extra efforts to provide facilities for the people to reach those places. Also, the one area that India as a country needs to improve a lot is cleanliness. Every child in India is taught and made to realize the importance of the proverb “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, but majority of them end up worshiping God more than the cleanliness. Even the beautiful temple premises, for that matter, are not kept clean.
Infrastructure and facilities are issues that can be solved by funding, either by government or through public private partnership. What’s the point in having a beautiful tourist spot at a secluded place untouched by transportation. Only a few people, having their private vehicles, can reach such a spot. Not everyone can afford to have a car of their own. Visiting a tourist place has to be pleasant right from the start to the end point. Government should help build a system which would not only introduce you to a tourist destination of the highest beauty order but also provide you the necessary means to easily reach such a place. This would help promote tourism in a better way.The major modes of transport are Roadways, Railways and Airways. To reach a tourist destination one might have to actually use a combination of the above mentioned modes of transport. In some cases one might even end up using all of them. The present Government has allocated a huge budget of Rs. 2.21 lakh crores to improve infrastructure in India. The roads sector alone has been allocated Rs. 97,000 crores with a plan to build 10,000 kilometers of new road projects in FY17. Out of this, Rs. 19,000 crores has been earmarked for rural roads under the “Pradhanmantri Gram Sadat Yojna”. There is a huge amount of capital expenditure on railways by the Indian Government. Also, effort has been made to bring in new technology to provide enhanced experience for the commuters. Apart from the huge government spending, Foreign Direct Investments have helped the Indian Aviation Industry grow in size. All these initiatives will help improve the different important modes of transport and thus help tourism in India. Certainly we are moving in the right direction in improving our infrastructure.
But the graver issue, I feel, is cleanliness. This is more of a mental and upbringing issue rather than something that can be solved by government spending. This cleanliness issue is not restricted to tourist places alone but is prevalent in all the common public places in India. The “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” campaign was launched by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on 2nd of October in 2014 to make India clean. This campaign involves the construction of latrines, promoting sanitation programmes in the rural areas, cleaning streets, roads and changing the infrastructure of the country to lead the country ahead. Since then things have changed for good but there is a long away ahead.
What needs to be changed? Today an Indian citizen cannot expect to walk on the streets without getting his or her feet dirty. In rainy season the situation worsens. There is dirt everywhere. In spite of knowing the importance of cleanliness in both the house and the surrounding, people have not given it much importance. Government can take initiatives but ultimately if people do not understand the significance of cleanliness it’s of no use. It is the responsibility of the citizen to keep the environment clean. The best thing would be to the fine the individuals polluting the surrounding, but in a vast country like India with huge population it will be a difficult thing to implement and track. Today we can see people spitting and littering on the road. What is hurting is that even younger generation is contributing in making public places dirty. This means that right from the childhood we have not been educated on cleanliness in the right way.
If a parent spits and litters on roads, a child would also feel free to do so. The child has been unknowingly taught something wrong which later on becomes a habit. The parent as well as child should realize that it is important to keep the environment clean. Spitting and littering is not acceptable. I feel that instead of Government imposing things and creating rules to keep the surroundings clean the change in mentality and attitude towards the surrounding will help solve the issue in a bigger way. Schools and teachers can help in educating the younger generation about cleanliness in the right way. By this method each household will contribute positively in making India clean. Once the mentality of the individuals change the entire attitude towards cleanliness will become positive and thus cleanliness will become habit. Each citizen will take up the responsibility of keeping the surrounding clean, thus helping the government achieving its goal. Apart from the individuals, the industries also need to checked for the pollution they cause. This needs to be undertaken by the government with the help of government officials. Efficient waste management processes can be employed to solve the issues.
Indians have still not taken the issue of cleanliness seriously and thus we are suffering. A small act, if undertaken by every Indian citizen, like not throwing garbage on roads or not spitting on the roads can do wonders to our country. We certainly deserve a better quality of life. Each one of us will feel good to live in a clean environment but some effort needs to made. I feel, if we are able to solve this major issue of cleanliness, it will be good for both the citizens as well as the travelers. Tourism will certainly grow and flourish more in a clean and green environment. If we manage to build a clean India with great infrastructure and facilities no one can stop our tourism industry from growing many folds. Lets make an effort and come together to make India a super travel destination.
Written by Mr. Krishna Kumar