Market and Promote Yoga: New Tourism Product

By Anil Bhandari

Anil BhandariUSEAS INDIA-is the birthplace of Yoga, the country needs to be a prime mover in propagating this 5,000-year-old holistic system internationally. All hotels should take the initiative, as was taken by the Prime Minister (PM) Mr. Narendra Modi which led to International Yoga Day celebrations, to promote Yoga within their Wellness Centres and Health Clubs. Hotels could play an important role in promoting Yoga to their guests by holding Yoga classes/demonstrations and through their inhouse TV network.

PMs proposal made during his maiden speech at the UN body on 27 September 2014 was adopted by 177 nations, the highest ever for any UN Resolution. For the first time an initiative of a country was implemented at the UN General Assembly in 79 days. This resulted in organization of the trendsetting International Yoga Day worldwide on 21 June 2015.

There were many other historic firsts. An estimated 35,985 people which included Mr. Modi, dignitaries from 84 countries and thousands of Delhiites, performed Yoga asanas for 35 minutes on a pleasant Sunday morning at Rajpath located in the heart of New Delhi. The event set two Guinness World Records. These were awarded to the newly-created Ministry of AYUSH, an acronym for the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy.

Another first: Millions, in over 170 countries across the world also celebrated International Yoga Day. People in the USA, Russia, China, France, Canada and other countries joined their Indian brethren in performing Yoga asanas and organizing other activities such as Yoga training campus, Yoga competitions, etc. to enhance awareness about the benefits of Yoga in daily life.

Yoga is derived from the word ’Yoke’ which means union of the body, mind, soul, spirit and environment. It is a way of life which endows perfect health thereby enhancing optimal integration of body, mind, soul, spirit and environment thereby enhancing physical, mental, social, spiritual and environmental well-being.

There are 8 branches of Yoga which are yama (restraint), niyama (self-discipline), asana (posture), pranayama (breathing exercise), pratiyahara (contemplation), dharana (meditation and samadhi (transcendence). It is believed that perfect peace can be attained through Yoga as it leads to the path to moksha (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth) and nirvana (union with the Divine).

There are a variety of Yoga centres all over India. The BKS Iyengar Institute in Pune and the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram near Neyyar Dam in Kerala’s Western Ghats are named as the two retreats of India among the world’s top ten Yoga centres, according to The Lonely Planet.

The Patanjali Yog Peeth, run under the guidance of Swami Ramdev in Haridwar, provides facilities such as Yoga classes, natural health therapies, hospital treatment as well as accommodation and a canteen, all at nominal rates. The Ananda In The Himalayas near Rishikesh is an upmarket resort and the Spa here offers a number of packages ranging from two to five days to refresh guests’ mind, body and soul.

A weeklong event is held during February-March in Rishikesh, also called the "Yoga capital of the world." In Pondicherry an annual international Yoga festival is held from 4-7 January and attracts over 500 yogis from all over the world.

The Ministry of Tourism/AYUSH needs to promote Yoga/Wellness to attract more tourists to India. Other measures include:

* Opening of more Yoga/Wellness centres by State Governments along with private sector across India in PPP mode

* Ensure accreditation, quality certification to project India as a high-quality Yoga/Wellness destination

* Open new schools and colleges for Yoga/Wellness

* For skill development organize train-the-trainer programmes to increase number of Yoga instructors

* Market and promote Yoga/Wellness in India and across the world through print, electronic and social media

* International Yoga Day should be celebrated on 21 June every year by all State Governments and stakeholders

* Prepare Yoga package tours, Yoga Circuits with travel agents/tour operators to market these

* Create and market Yoga accessories such as Mats, attire across the world

These measures would lead to people abroad developing interest in Yoga in India, the land of its origin. A positive experience would ensure repeat visits by adherents to regularly practice this holistic approach to health. Success in promotion of Yoga is assured with the placing of Wellness, and Yoga, in the ’Make in India’ mission.

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Anil Bhandari is the Chairman of AB Smart Concepts a company involved in managing in hotels and consulting in the travel and tourism business.

 


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