Travels and Tourism:
The Venetian traveler Marco Polo is the first to change the human civilization’s view on Travel and Tourism and also the western view of the world. The European maps in his time were based on Biblical interpretations and classical mythology. Then came Polo’s book describing great civilization in the east and the world not centered in Jerusalem, politically or geographically.
Originally called description of the ‘World Travels’ by Marco Polo was a revolutionary piece of writing. It really attracted European understanding of Asia by forcing the west to recognize a superior culture in the east. By describing with such verb, luxurious and sensuousness of Chinese cities, it impressed the idea of an exotic east on the European psyche. The book was an encyclopedic source of knowledge.
And coming to traveling around the globe and tourism as an industry today, more than 700 years after the Venetian trader set out on an epic odyssey, East and West are dancing together and that has changed the way human beings will live for ever.
Many say, east and west aren’t just meeting these days; they are eating, living and flirting each other. Perhaps Rudyard Kipling’s teachings, East is East and West is West and twain shall never meet has been proved to be awfully wrong.
Travel is becoming easier and comfortable by the day and hassles are being mitigated and language barriers are being just leapt away.
Role of Eastern Civilization::
All these have only increased manifold with the eastern civilization giving a renewed emphasis on tour and travels. For the West, there are massive new markets to sell and prime opportunity to cash into.
Similar is the situation with the eastern countries also. China and India have already made dramatic entry into the new world order keeping tourism as a means to achieve economic prosperity and ensure greater attainment in global brotherhood.
Under the initiative ‘Atithi Devo Bhavah, or "our guests are our Gods", the Government of India’s Ministry of Tourism has been creating a suitable tourism brand for India that will excite visitors during the experience of traveling in the subcontinent. Under the program, the government has charted out a nationwide free training to everyone who comes in regular contact with foreign visitors - taxi drivers, tour guides, shop owners, waiters and customs officials.
The message is crystal clear: you are expected to behave nicely, and tourists - will return and thereby you can rightfully squeeze your share of earning and also bring the revenue for the country.
Needless to add, these campaigns have yielded results and the Tourism growth in 2008 has been quite positive with a 11 per cent increase in international tourist arrivals. During 2007, the country received five million foreign tourists, an increase of 12 per cent over 2006 and this trend has continued in 2008 also despite the Goa mishap. We will talk on that later.
The increase in forex earnings over 2006 was 34 per cent, Indian officials say.
Now the Government of India expects to host about 10 million tourists by 2010. The "Incredible India!" promotional campaign of the Ministry has won the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Award last year – and nothing is left to chances to capitalize on the goodwill generated across the globe.
A Lonely Planet survey of 167 countries also ranks India among the world''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s top five most popular destinations. India jumped ahead of Italy, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand in the world''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s top five most-preferred tourist destinations from fourth a year earlier and 10th in 2004.
It’s also inherently in the oriental values cherished from northeastern tip of the country to Kashmir that despite other issues, visitors are not disturbed. The locals do make all kinds of concessions to help visitors tour a destination like idyllic Dzukou valley in Nagaland with ease and with minimum expenses.
The Government has also helped boost tourism with necessary administrative steps. The North East region is being given special emphasis in ‘Incredible India’ campaign and the Eco tourism suiting foreign tourists’ needs is being implemented in North East.
In order to ease things for visitors the government has announced several relaxation in granting of Restricted Area Permit (RAP) for foreign tourists visiting Northeast India and also facilitated arrangements to procure them from all Indian Missions abroad and all Home Ministry foreigners divisions in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
Meanwhile, in an ironical twist of events one sees the damage being done to the country’s hospitable industry due to one aberration and on much unfounded reasons. The Goa mishap involving around rape and murder of British teen Scarlett Keeling and the subsequent media hype has unfortunately portrayed India’s tourism ambience in a poor light. It’s perhaps a case of half-truth or half-falsehood – as one sees it – punctuated with media sensationalism that has prevailed upon the truth.
The true tourism scene both in Goa and the rest of India is far better and hospitable than it has been made out to be. Following this sensational case, Goa has been repeatedly accused in a section of foreign media of poor policing and bad governance. In many respect, such a portrayal in media is well misplaced.
With no reservation, certain things did go wrong in Goa. The action of Goan police was found far from wanting in the beginning. There are a few other things that are wrong like promoting a perverted image of the beach tourism that perhaps attracts only the wrong kind of tourists and attention. Elsewhere in the country, there are possibly also cases where taxi drivers have misled the visitors. But these problems are universal in nature and rightly many methods are being sharpened and steps taken to make the entire tourism system more visitors-friendly and effective.
In the recent past, the Indian Tourism authorities have taken steps on the personal hygiene of taxi drivers and charted out programs including advisories for the taxi drivers to custom officials to create an idyll ambience to lure more tourists.
Rightly, the Government has taken steps to set up Tourist Security Force comprising personnel from ex-servicemen. Women will be given preference in the Force and they will be deployed at important tourists places, railway and bus stations and airports. With all its blemishes and shortcomings, Indian tourism sector is a fine system largely friendly, honest, creditable, honest, and committed to make a visitor’s stay memorable in India.
The World Travel Trends Report said Asia-Pacific continues to lead expansion of the world''''s tourism trade. The international arrivals in the region also increased by over 10% in 2007. There was only an 8% growth in 2006.
Businesses at the tourism frontline are seeing more than just an increase in numbers.
Compared what was the scene in Indian tourism sector a few years ago, the country is experiencing more arrivals of higher-spending tourists. A large number of tourists are showing inclination to naturapathy like mud theraphy, ayurveda and of course yoga. The guests across the country are also coming from an increasingly diverse range of countries.
Conventionally, the country had tourists from the USA, UK and Israel, but now there is a sudden huge increase in visitors from Russia, Brazil, South Korea, Germany and France. These tourists are also seeing a greater variety of experience, looking for adventure such as white-water rafting, trekking and mountaineering.
The second international conference on "responsible tourism", in Cochin, in the southern state of Kerala is also taken as a right initiative by Indian Tourism Ministry. Over 400 delegates and speakers from 20 countries attended the meet with the goal to achieve greater involvement of all concerned sections in making the tourism industry sustainable in terms of economies job opportunities etc.
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