So much has been spoken about domestic tourism but very little concrete action have been taken. Seminars and conferences galore have discussed, deliberated and debated about the robust potential of the sector and new road maps for the future charted. But the roadmap always seems to hit some roadblock and the vitality of the sector remains muffled in the confines of conference rooms. From taxation issues, infrastructure bottlenecks, to public-private synergy and offering a genuine quality tourism experience for the traveller, it all seems to be an echo from the past.
Our publication has always maintained firmly that domestic tourism is what defines Indian tourism. Immediate action needs to be taken and promises need to be fulfilled. Those in the corridors of power need to give this sector the much required attention. Throwing numbers is not enough as one needs to work towards giving this number (tourists) an experience that is unmatched. State tourism boards should look at developing specialist programmes similar to those of their international counterparts. Further, interstate tourism circuits should look beyond the traditional golden triangle and also the well established circuits in the South and develop new potential zones. Thematic circuits can help bind different regions, namely the India’s freedom struggle trail to that of textile tourism. Interstate tourism can only succeed if the transport infrastructure is sound and seamless that includes, rail, road and air. Even though the railway network connects to the very heart of India, the demand is still more than the supply. The sudden hike in air travel is working against the domestic traveller and finally, the issues with respect to road transport have to be addressed. State borders within the country can be effectively connected with better highways that offer clean and hygienic amenities en route. There have been discussions of a PPP model to get this moving, and hopefully it will.
On the subject of PPP, Kerala is one state which got the combination right. The well established biennial Kerala Travel Mart is a perfect example of public and private sector working in tandem for the betterment of tourism. From Kerala to Kashmir where ADTOI is scheduled to hold its convention, there is so much this country has to offer that it is impossible at times to docket it all. One can only hope that someone truly understands the seriousness of its potential and hits the highway with immediate effect.