ABHISHEK CHAKRABORTY – New Delhi
“The focus has shifted from hard-core to soft-core, multi-activity based adventure tourism,” said Akshay Kumar, president, Adventure Tour Operators, Association of India (ATOAI) and CEO, Mercury Himalayan Explorations, at the CII roundtable on adventure tourism held in New Delhi. Highlighting the enormous potential that adventure tourism has, Kumar said that the industry should encourage adventure tourism activities during off-season and cater to tourists all round the year. “Since 70 per cent of Himalyan range is in India, and Incredible India Himalayan campaign is in place, industry should strategise to encourage adventure tourism activities during off-season and cater to tourists all round the year,” he said. Kumar also emphasised upon safety and quality issues and suggested encouraging usage of satellite phones.
Pointing out the benefits of adventure tourism over conventional tourism, Arjun Sharma, co-chairman, CII National Committee on Tourism, and MD, Le Passage to India, said, “Adventure tourism has the quality to get inbound tourist closely engaged with the society. With the help of adventure tourism, we can showcase varied aspects of the Indian culture. Inbound tourists can also get an opportunity to be closely engaged with the society. There is a need to devise ways to create more synergies for this sector and address the present bottlenecks.”
Ajeet Bajaj, managing director, Snow Leopard Adventures said it is time a multi-pronged approach is adopted to promote and harness adventure tourism. “Nearly 90 per cent of adventure tourism is concentrated on soft adventure tourism. It is recommended that multi-pronged approach be adopted to promote and harness the potential in a safe and sustainable manner,” he opined. With a view to make optimal utilisation of airstrips, he suggested that the defense airstrips be allowed for commercial operations. He also emphasised on the need to open new institutions and promote multiple adventures sports like rafting, canoeing, skiing, etc.
Lauding the government’s efforts in promoting adventure tourism, Subhash Goyal, president, IATO chairman, Stic Travels, said all tour operators should take advantage of the Rs three crore allocated for Incredible India Himalayan campaign. He suggested that a helpline number be created in multiple languages exclusively for this industry.
Earlier, Amita Sarkar, senior director, CII, said adventure tourism is playing a crucial role in driving inclusive growth, and generating employment opportunities and hence its potential cannot be ignored.