Open Eyes Opinion
Uttarakhand – The Land of the Gods
There are plenty of tourism options for Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand (Devbhumi-The Land of the Gods), located in Northern India, is the second fastest growing state in India.The population base is approximately 10,116,000 with the largest ethnics being Rajputs and Brahims.
The vast majority of the populace practice Hinduism, followed by Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism and Christianity.
Hindi is the dominant language in the region.
Humans have inhabited the area since prehistoric times.
A mountainous region, the northern part of Uttarakhand is comprised mostly of glaciers and high Himalayan peaks.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, The ‘Valley of Flowers’, is positioned in the upper Bhyundar Ganga and produces a variety of rare plants.
‘Haridwar Kumbh Mela’, a major Hindu Pilgrimage, takes place in Uttarakhand.
The diverse ethnic groups in the region create a vibrant and colorful culture.
Uttarakhand, nestled in the Himalayas, offers many interesting tourist attractions.(national parks,trekking,hill stations,forest reserves,numerous ancient temples and views of a magnificent mountain range).
Article By Ashish Joshi in Dehradum
TOURISM COULD BE ONE OF DRIVERS OF STATE’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Number of Options
Given the strengths and weaknesses of the state, Uttarakhand has a number of options to pursue viz., tourism, agriculture and horticulture, medicinal plants/herbal wealth, generation of hydroenergy, information technology and biotechnology as the key GDP drivers of Uttarakhand and could be the thrust areas.
For example, Uttarakhand has tourism potential but there is nothing to suggest that this sector is driving the economy. Tourism is now viewed as one of the key sectors of economic growth and development in the state both from the point of view of income and employment generation as well as a source of revenue for the state. The state government must strive hard to make tourism an instrument of economic growth, poverty eradication and prosperity in Uttarakhand.
In several parts of the world and closer home Himachal Pradesh, the mountain regions have greatly benefited from the rise of tourism. With increasing demand or increasing potential demand for tourism, such regions acquire modern connectivity and new technologies. Tourism being highly labour intensive with a range of career options helps in increasing the income of the local people
There are plenty of tourism options for Uttarakhand and all of them should be encouraged.
The state government has already constituted autonomous institutions such as the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, Special Committee for Pilgrimage, and Adventure Tourism Committee. It is expected that these institutions work towards a common goal to provide sustainability to the tourism and attractiveness of the region in long term.
But, clearly, even this has not been enough to develop and fully exploit the vast tourism potential of Uttarakhand. The tourists continue to face problems viz., (a) The regional tourist offices are understaffed (b) The infrastructure facilities at some of the destinations are not adequate (c) There is excessive pressure on some of th edestinations like Mussoorie and Nainital, especially during the peak season. These places are becoming very dirty and the tourist attractions at these places are in a pathetic Condition (d) The connectivity to Uttarakhand is still not as well developed as in other states like Himachal Pradesh (e) . A lot can be done to promote the destinations Uttarakhand through the media.
Suggestions to encourage tourism
The state government should encourage more private sector participation. Even though the master plans that the state government has set out are in partnership with the private sector, but it needs to see that these are properly implemented and it should encourage private sector participation in the other areas as well apart from these master plans.A theme for Uttarakhand needs to be developed and highlighted and develop regions on the basis of this theme.
River tourism can be developed in the state and river cruises could be introduced along the Ganges. The government could conduct IT training programmes for the staff. The state government should also try to improve the infrastructure availability to the staff even at the district level/regional offices .The state government can encourage hotel chains to set up shops in Uttarakhand by providing them with land, price and tax concessions. The state could provide incentives and technical assistance to SMEs in the tourism sector, notably local artisans and cottage industries producing high quality handicrafts. Betterment of basic amenities like electricity, water supply, drainage, sewerage, solid waste disposal system, etc., needs to be carried out at various tourist destinations.
Learn from Kerala Tourism
Uttarkhand should learn from the Kerala model of tourism. Though there was no leadership position earlier, Kerala Government was aggressive in marketing Kerala globally. There are several things Kerala did right. First, they moved away from conventional marketing and positioned the brand at a more sophisticated level. Secondly, they worked in absolute tandem with the tourism industry in the state. The Kerala Tourism and the industry have taken as top priority the need to improve the visitor’s experience. kerala trained service providers, from home-stays to skilled employees of hotels to taxi drivers to government staff. Of the total room inventory in Kerala, about 80 per cent is in the hands of small and home-grown entrepreneurs. The houseboat in the backwaters is a good example. Kerala has about 400 houseboats and the biggest houseboat company owns only 10 boats. Ninety per cent of them are single- or double-boat owners. The private sector in Kerala’s tourism industry is way ahead in marketing, service, operations and professionalism. The best working model of public-private participation in tourism is in Kerala. The most shining example is Kerala Travel Mart, a buyer-seller biannual event in Kochi in the third week of September. The mart is run by the private sector. The state government plays a supporting role. The government consults the private partners for promoting the state in domestic and international market through events like roadshows and tourism fairs. The government believes that the private sector knows about business more than the government.
Tourism and economic development
There is a huge potential of tourism in Uttarakhand and it is waiting to be tapped. Tourism in its trail will bring economic development, generation of employment, better infrastructure in Uttarakhand. According to estimates prepared by the National Council for Applied Economic Research, tourism contributes as much as 6.77% to India’s total Gross Domestic Product through direct and indirect impact. To put this in context, this is nearly as much as India’s much touted Information Technology-Business Process Outsourcing industry, which contributes around 7.5% to the economy according to industry body NASSCOM.
Why should then Uttarkhand, be left behind?
[Source: Article by Ashish Joshi in Dehradum – formerly published 05 September 2016 in ‘The Pioneer’ (India) – Foreword by George Stewart openeyesopinion.com]
[Photo credits-featured image: Nature, scene, geography of Uttarakhand North India – By Sharada Prasad CS from Berkeley, India (Kalindi – The fiery mountain) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]
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