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For the wandering soul

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The vastness of India is incomprehensible to most travellers. There is a unique element of diversity in the country’s culture, tradition, art, food, garments, language, landscape and more in every region and even regions within a region. Each state in the country has a special aura and there are units within the state that has its unmatched style of living, working and functioning. At times it gets difficult to define India in a single phrase. Incredible India did get it right, but it is now time to move on highlighting India as an experiential based tourism product.

The traveller today is mature, versatile, discerning, who designs his or her own tours and circuits. They want to explore India in an out-of-the-box fashion and it is time for the tourism stakeholders, both tour operators and tourism boards to look beyond conventional customer demands and pre-empt the future of customer satisfaction. Product knowledge on the part of the stakeholders is paramount as India’s domestic tourism product has a wealth of specialties to offer. From textile trails, architecture tours, Sufi and Sikh circuits, to history and freedom trails and gourmet journeys – they are well focused routes that can be created without compromising on the quality of the tour. Infrastructure facility is vital, which very few states have consciously made efforts to implement on a fast track mode.

Intra-state and inter-state circuits are easy to define. These circuits need the backing of players in the industry who are capable to offer a seamless travel experience to travellers. It is crucial to provide value-for-money, clean and quality accommodation ranging from budget to boutique to the traveller to choose from. Every element of the tourism chain, from the ground handler, guide, driver, to housekeeping staff, need to value and truly understand hospitality. They are after all the true brand ambassadors of Indian tourism. Celebrities can definitely endorse the brand but the survival and success of the endorsements and brand rests in the hands of the Indian citizen. My recent trip to Japan was an eye opener as it is the Japanese culture that truly walks the talk when it comes to putting Atithi Devo Bhava into real time use. Though language can be an initial barrier, it is relegated by their unmatched hospitality. And with the Indian tourism landscape being so vast at the end it is the gestures that help define a destination as people friendly, quality and classy.

Reema Lokesh

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