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Playing catalyst in Uttarakhand

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India, a country as vast and varied in its geographic offerings offers itself as a perfect adventure destination to test a traveller’s mental and physical endurance to its extreme limit. The urge to indulge in this activity based tourism is gaining prominence worldwide, and increasingly travellers are deciding what activities they want to do and choosing their destinations accordingly. The ‘push’ (personal motivation) factor is getting stronger than the ‘pull’ (destination attraction) factor. Adventure travel or tourism, a major part of activity-based tourism globally has been segmented into extreme adventure and soft adventure activities. Seeing the interest growing among travellers for this segment, many adventure tour operators in India and abroad are offering a wide range of activities like white water river rafting, trekking and mountaineering, desert safari, skiing, hot air ballooning, paragliding, scuba diving, etc. Adventure tourism is a profitable option for these tour operators as clients are willing to live under the most basic conditions but end up paying top dollar for the tour operator’s expertise and the activity.

Mandip Singh Soin, founder and managing director, Ibex Expeditions opines, “The adventure tourism segment has been being growing at 10-15 per cent year-on-year combining both inbound and domestic travellers. The northeastern frontier is a potential state for this segment and we are looking forward to the government’s support for the same.”

Agreeing to the same, Major SK Yadav, managing director, Wanderlust Travels opines, “The segment has been growing rapidly. Apart from leisure, corporate clients are also opting for adventure activities as part of incentive travel which they use for team building exercises. In the Asian region, Nepal has been attracting a lot of adventure travellers. The segment also saw a growth of 22 per cent in 2011 and has been growing since then. India receives nearly 1.5 million inbound tourists for adventure activities.”

Uttarakhand: The adrenaline returns

Uttarakhand took the adventure route to beckon tourists back to its green vales. After almost a quarter of a century, the state brought back motorsport on its tourism calendar to boost confidence among tourists, and woo them to its tourism hotspots again.

In the second half of December 2013, the state government hosted the Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally. About 70 rallyists from all parts of the country went across about 1,000 kms in the mountain state as part of the rally. Uttarakhand Tourism had organised this Rally to spread the message nationally and internationally that roads and infrastructure in Uttarakhand are good, and the state is once again the ‘eco-adventure tourism destination’ for skiing, white-water rafting, wildlife photography, and now also motorsport. The rally route touched some of the favourite tourism attractions in Uttarakhand. These included Shivpuri for white water rafting, the ski resort at Auli, and Garjiya on the periphery of the Jim Corbett Park.

UK Panwar, secretary tourism, Uttarakhand said, “Uttarakhand has world-class holiday destinations for families and youth alike. The roads are good again, and we invite all tourists to enjoy the unique holiday experience here.”

The Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally brought the Himalayan state on the motorsport calendar of the country after 23 years. The internationally-popular Himalayan Rally was the last motorsport event on these winding mountain roads.

Vijay Parmar, president, Himalayan Motorsport, said, “Motorsport has great potential to grow in Uttarakhand, and will showcase its excellent tourism destinations nationally and internationally. The state has a super network of roads, and more roads are being constructed in highly picturesque locales.”

We took the decision to host the national convention in Uttarakhand to erase memories of the turbulent times of 2013’

Akshay Kumar, President, ATOAI

Recent projects undertaken by ATOAI?

Adventure First Responder and Safety Workshop
ATOAI has organised two days basic First Responder and Safety Workshop in Uttarkashi on January 13-14, 2014 without charging any registration fees from the participants.

ATOAI has been organising various Seminars in association with Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Ministry of State Tourism and other organisations for development of India as a sustainable, Safe and Quality Adventure Destination. We have recently conducted a stakeholders’ seminar titled “Tourism in Uttarakhand : Starting Afresh” on December 13, 2013 at Dehradun

Issues taken with/ through Ministry of Tourism

  • Adventure guides training courses in travel and tourism institutes as well as National mountaineering institutes.
  • Waiver of service tax for adventure tour operators.
  • GPS/sattelite phone use to be allowed.
  • Import of duty free adventure equipements.
  • Opening of a few small airstrips in the Himalayas for better connectivity.
  • Enhancing of insurance cover, rescue and communication facility in the Himalayas.
  • Issues with state tourisms- like Uttarakhand, Ladakh, Sikkim, MP.

How many members are attending the convention?

We are expecting 150 buyers, both domestic and overseas, in addition to the ATOAI members and non members as well as top-level media decision makers to attend the convention..

Why have you chosen Shivpuri as the venue for the convention?

We took the decision to host the national convention in Uttarakhand to erase memories of the turbulent times of 2013. We feel this is an opportunity to bring everyone together and chart a new, more adventurous future!

The theme of the convention this year is – the 4 Cs (Connect | Create | Catalyse | Conserve)

During the convention we aim to:

Connect – This convention will enable you to network with a larger number of delegates than is normal, due to our initiative to use technology to enable a pre-connect, thus enabling showcasing products to larger audience.

Create – Opportunities will be presented for peer interactions, mentorship exchanges and pitching products directly to the media, to maximise exposure.

Catalyse – A better work environment will be enabled by engaging in a positive and result-oriented dialogue with the regulatory authorities.

Conserve – We will renew the pledge to be responsible and sensitive to the ecosystem in which we operate.

Which are the new adventure destinations which you are promoting?

We are looking at north east as a major destination in the coming years and also the fact that the border crossing between Indian and Myanmar may be opened soon which opens a completely new market in this area.