Collaborative measures by both government and private sector stakeholders can lead to sustainable growth of adventure tourism in India
This World Tourism Day, let’s celebrate the spirit of travelling and tourism for inclusive growth, let’s talk about the one thing that tourism imparts to our soul ie adventure. Lockdown forced us all to stay home and practice work from home or study from home. And now the only thing that needs to be done in its classic way is, travelling. Staying away from nature made us realise the importance of it, and thus people are more inclined towards adventure tourism for recreational purposes and get over their pandemic hangover.
Travellers prefer soft adventure activities, also known as recreational activities, rather than going for hardcore activities, as it is more family-friendly, requires less expertise and the risk factor is minimal. Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council is trying to do their bit in this situation by providing necessary skills so that the sector can grow. Rajan Bahadur, CEO of the council, shares, “At the Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC), we are developing Qualification Packs (QPs) and training material for job roles based on the sectoral demand. These look at all water-based, air-based, mountain-based and land-based activity roles for Instructors, Guides and Crew Members.”
The adventure tourism in the country still struggles to get past the West as the sector lacks concrete policies and regulations as well as infrastructure. Collaborative measures by both government and respective stakeholders of sector can take the sector to newer heights. The private sector shares equal responsibility to grow the industry. Both private and public should walk side by side to promote adventure tourism sustainably and work responsibly. Cleaner tourist destinations have higher chances of repeated clientele. “Adventure tourism as a concept is gaining ground in India. The push has to come from the government and policymakers, however, we are doing our best to explore the prospects in line with industry requirements. A major chunk of the companies in the adventure travel segment is SMEs, which means they are agile, light and can adapt faster to swiftly changing environments. The industry demand trend also means some job roles are seasonal, which means they are used to operating in limited periods throughout the year,” Bahadur puts in.
A few hotels offer softer recreational tourism opportunities for its guests which are a part of the larger adventure tourism group. Recreation is one of the major objectives of tourism that the people opt for to get out of their mundane lifestyle, feels Gopinath Gopalan, General Manager, Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Nashik. “Recreational practices in a certain region are one of the major reasons for the increase in domestic tourism in that particular area. In the current times, recreational tourism has become a mass phenomenon,” he adds.
With months on end spent under lockdown, people have understood the value of freedom and are now travelling with revenge force to explore destinations within the country that are closer to Nature. “Guest expectations are no longer confined to in-room amenities. They expand beyond to encompass a variety of services, activities, experiences and all-inclusive package, especially in today’s era which forms the base for recreational and entertainment tourism and of course, hotels and resorts stand to gain and benefit from the extra revenue,” avers Anoop Pandey, General Manager, The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa.
Sustainability has become the new keyword in the hospitality, travel and tourism sectors. Reports by UNWTO suggests that various measures are being taken by both the stakeholders and the travelers to take care of the surroundings they are travelling in. “Achieving sustainable tourism is a continuous process and it requires regular monitoring of impacts. Introducing the necessary preventive and/ or corrective measures whenever necessary,” it states. Keeping in mind the dos and don’ts, customer satisfaction can still be maintained by providing them with meaningful experiences.
Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Nashik, informs Gopalan, provides their guests with refreshing Nature trails and hikes to explore the city’s 3,000 ft high Trirashmi Hills and the ancient Pandava Caves. Then there are cycling trails in the lush green vicinity of the hotel. “All these environment-friendly experiences are curated specially to be explored on foot or a bicycle to reduce the carbon footprint,” says Gopalan.
The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa offers curated experiences like Go Local: Farm to Table, an experience that is crafted exclusively in-house by the team for the guests to be able to understand the concept of sustainable eating. Guests can take a tour of the farm to see how fruits and vegetables grow, learn about beekeeping, vermicomposting, rainwater harvesting, greywater filtering, crop rotation and more. The initiative is not only to promote a healthy diet and protect the environment but also to give their guests a first-hand experience of rural country-side life.
“Sustainability today is much more than energy conservation or recycling. It has become the keyword to their survival in the face of mass tourism for many in the tourist and hospitality industry. And as the pandemic-battered world tries to get back on its feet, sustainable practices become even more important as a tool to rebuild the local economy,” Pandey shares.
INVOLVEMENT OF LOCALS
Local residents play an important role in introducing the local culture of the destination to the travellers. Falling in line with this year’s World Tourism Day theme, Tourism for Inclusive Growth, it is also necessary to appreciate their efforts. “Local culture is an increasingly important element of the tourism product as it creates distinctiveness in the face of globalisation. Local culture is increasingly being used as a value addition to promote destinations and enhance their competitiveness and attractiveness. Many hotels and resorts are now actively developing their tangible and intangible cultural assets as a means of developing comparative advantages in an increasingly competitive tourism marketplace, and fostering local distinctiveness, in a crowded global marketplace,” said Pandey.
Agrees Anmol Ahluwalia, Cluster General Manager, Taj, North Goa. “The residents play a vital role in recreational tourism as they define the local culture of a specific region. Hence, recreational tourism is primarily driven by the same native occupants and their traditions that form a familial culture passed down by generations,” he says, adding, “The recent times have witnessed travellers having keen interest in exploring these authentic regional experiences which have further helped sustain many regional dying art forms. With the tourism stakeholders realising the potential of local culture in customer decision-making, the native population and their craftsmanship have started to gain popularity, resulting in inclusive growth for all factors contributing to the state’s economy.”
THE WAY FORWARD
Sustainable recreational tourism has a bright future in India only if the stakeholders and policy-makers focus their attention on sector. Not only will it result in the country’s economic growth but also ensure the state of our geographical assets remains perfect.
“Recreation is an essential element of our human biology. Both leisure and recreation are often prerequisites for tourism. Concerning the development of this sector, we see that most upcoming hospitality ventures come preset with their list of recreational opportunities. These activities can double up as conservators of nature and promoters of sustainability,” says Gopalan.
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