Tourism in India

India, a vast land of myriad landscapes, flora and fauna, climes and people has great potential as a tourist destination. It is a land of contrasts, mystical and yet vibrant and colourful. Nevertheless, it has only tapped a very small percentage of the world’s tourism industry. Smaller South East Asian, Far East and Middle Eastern countries are doing a better job of attracting tourists.

Why is this so? Why are people by-passing India and its Taj Mahal, the Himalayas, our back-waters, etc., etc. when there is so much to see? We need to have a candid look at what ails our tourist industry.

The lack of infra-structure, hygiene, sanitation, safety are major setbacks, though some of these are shared by other developing nations too.

India and Indians need to be more service oriented and helpful where tourists are concerned. We need to change our attitude and cut the red-tape and bureaucratic approach to business.

Eastern hospitality is well known and an Indian would easily break bread with a weary traveler and give him his bed to sleep on. Yet those who are connected to tourism in various ways could do better – they do not appear to follow the age old Indian adage which says “Aditi Devo Bhava” – a guest should be treated like God.

We could be more forthcoming with information when a tourist needs help and more honest in our dealings with him or her – exorbitant fares and prices will not endear us to tourists.

Recently, I was in a shop on Mahatma Gandhi Road, close to Anil Kumble Circle, when a tourist walked in and bought a pair of sunglasses. She then asked for directions to “Nalli Silks”, half a mile or so down the road. The shop assistant, who had been helpful till then feigned ignorance of the location! She could not be bothered, her job was over. It did not matter to her that a person totally new to this country could have done with some help. She was of course shame-faced when I gave her an incredulous look and started giving the tourist directions. The shop was not even busy – there were only two customers, the tourist and I who were leaving at any rate.

We need to learn that nothing is lost by being helpful and that we can all do better for ourselves and others by going the extra mile.

Going the extra mile – that is another concept which is not popular with us. Public transportation, accommodation and eateries could be a lot cleaner and made to look a lot nicer by just going that extra mile. Regular maintenance and pride in our vehicles or spaces, not to mention ourselves in terms of regular baths and clean clothes would go a long way in attracting more people to India.

While we wait for the government to work on the infra-structure, and cut the red-tape and bureaucracy, these are little things we could do ourselves, which I believe will make us a lot more desirable as a nation and destination to the huge number of tourists out there.

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