By Murari Chaturvedi
Domestic tourism segment is untapped gold mine in India. The magnitude of vast potential of domestic tourism can be guaged by the fact that in 1997-98, domestic tourism generated revenue of Rs. 20,000 crore as against Rs. 13,000 crore from foreign tourists. No country can match India in the variety of tourism sectors. We have over 100 million domestic tourists travelling around the country every year. The religious tourism is the largest segment. Over 18 million devotees visit Tirupati and 5 million to Vesnodevi. The temples and religious spots of Mathura, Vrindavan, Nathdwara, Varanasi, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Rameshwar and other religious place are visited by millions every year. Theother segments of domestic tourism are hill stations, pleasure tourist sports, heritage tourism of forts, rural tourism, bird and wild life sanctuaries and adventure tourism are some the important segments of tourism industry in the country.
Rajasthan attracts over six million tourists every year. Rural tourism is developing fast in Jaisalmer and Barmer districts, where the tourists stay with villagers, eat their meals and learn about the hard life of desert villages. Eco-tourism and farm tourism have also being developed in Rajasthan.
All the four corners of the country offer unparallel flora, fauna, vast sea shaores, various climatic condition., snow capped mountains, green valleys and forests, desert, historical monuments, forts, caves, sanctuaries et el. There is great scope to develop domestic tourism, which can generate unprecedented revenues to the government and to the indstury. To tap this vast potential, we have dirst to address the grey areas of the tourism industry both are to be blamed for the lapses and lopsided attitude towards the tourism industry.
To tap the great potential in domestic tourism we need to address various shortcomings. They are : Hotel Rooms :
We need more hotel accommodation, specifically in budget hotel segment. At present there are 61,500 room,s in 1,123 approved hotels. The government hass approved few more hotels. The department of tourism estimated that another 30,000 rooms will be available by 2000. But the prime need to cater domestic tourists, is of budget hotels, Yatrikas and guest houses.
Infrastructure Infrastructure bottlenecks have to be removed on war footings. Tourism related infrastructure like road , rail, air, transport network, reliable communication are basic and most essential infrastructure components. Upgrading of present systems and construction / creation of new infrastructure will go a long way.
Publicity and promotion The need to impart information about the tourist centres is very important to attract tourists. India’s tourism promotion and advertising budgest is mere $27.5 million. In comparision Singapore’s $51 millioon, Austrailia $ 88 million, U.K., Spain and France over $ 70 million, tourism promotion budget must be kept in mid. There is growing need to create special web-site on internet for tourism promotion. This will attract not only domestic but foreign tourists as well.
The culture of value for money has also to be developed in this mega crore segment. There are rich dividends if we can revamp and streamline our tourism and holidaying related services.