The exploration of India’s diverse regions offers several choices aligned with affordability and sustainability. The worldwide tourism industry has changed, and in this changed atmosphere the tourism products can gain eyeball hits depending on their competence and connection with customers. In the present times the communities are required to rethink their approach and involvement in the tourism sector, by integrating local expertise and by avoiding messaging deception. Travel and tourism have strategic importance in the Indian economy due to the various socio-economic benefits attached to it.
The innovative ways for tourism management are based on local partnerships and governance. Based on visitor profile and destination type, the exploratory assets such as cultural landscape, heritage, traditions, crafts and skills, cultural events etc demand monitoring and seasonal changes. The range of experiential tours and activities are varied and distinctive to cities that are rich in culture heritage along with accessibility. Each region across the nation has a unique local identity which lives on through generations in various forms of arts and culture such as literature, folk dance and songs, culinary forms, crafts and traditional practices, amongst others.
Future travel will be like a process which will consist of checkpoints that might stimulate or hinder the experiences of the visitors. It is imperative to create tourism products which could regenerate the local and regional identities. Post COVID-19 ‘regenerative travel’ will be a choice of travellers as expectations will be around responsible tourism practices and unique local encounters. The individuals, businesses will be required to maintain value contributions for the communities and show potential positive impacts to the visitors. The competence of curation and capability to deliver will become key markers for travelers to make a transaction. Benchmarking of city sightseeing, walking tours and other ‘slow journeys’ as tourism products have to attract both local people and other visitors. The ‘tourprenuer’ or ‘tourism facilitators’ should offer value creation and imbibe enough knowledge about the execution of the tourism services.
The hyper competitive environments of the travel and tourism sector sometimes deviate from the foresight of involved government stakeholders who bring irregular changes in form of infrastructure, access restrictions impacting qualitative and inductive means desired by visitors and residents. Tourism stability can be brought with ‘place sense’ interpretations and bringing policy changes which provides visitors benefits when they visit India. In these unprecedented times, more than ever, there is a need for the government and the private segments to join forces and mitigate the pandemic led crises. It is further important to initiate thematic development of the destinations and provide skills to the local communities. It is of utmost importance to promote ‘India resources’ in a timely manner to promote conservation and promotion of our natural resources, heritage and traditional arts and culture.
At the local level ‘India city discovery’ offerings have to be enhanced with genuine interpretations and thematic ideas. India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and tracing its roots to the Indus Valley civilization is unique to our planet. India has witnessed creation of ‘regal routes ‘opted by several dynasties that were influenced by rich and diverse cultural heritage. In particular, the art forms and shared heritage brought varied forms of traditions, philosophy, fairs/festivals, languages, literature, music, dance etc. The creation and delivery of India experiences has to be encouraged for preserving traditional art forms and strategic choices for accurate depiction should be maintained by tour guides, walk leaders and heritage enthusiasts to create visitor delight.
The disruptive technological interventions in tourism are newer mediums to connect with the guests/travellers to ease their travel wish list. However, both money and time is required for on-ground experiences as virtual interface and technology driven explorations cannot replace on-site visitations. There is an opportunity for tourism businesses to introduce the ‘pay all later (pal)’ scheme to influence purchase of travel. The flexible payment methods will increase visitor spending and grow the tourism economy.
There is an urgent need for innovative tourism models like ‘connecting communities’ which can manage the volume of tourist activity as it is being predicted that the focus in the post pandemic world would be towards the community driven experiences. Marketing and advertising strategy is required to attract travellers to experience the destination in an enticing, immersive way. It is essential for the communities to gain from tourism transactions ensuring impartial growth. India has unparalleled advantage to showcase its vibrant culture and natural resources through travel businesses that are growing the tourism economy. Tourism being a service providing industry, here the aggregators, start-ups and tour operators offer ‘pure experiences’ in form of several thematic itineraries. In the changing times, tourism is being promoted even digitally. India’s experience truly is in the life transforming moment that provides ample opportunities to reconnect with nature. Themes like cultural heritage, spirituality, rural experiences and nature-based activities continuously create demands within domestic and inbound tourism.
The visitor inflow to the regions is dependent on infrastructural development and connectivity through road, railways and airways. Each travel destination needs more focus from a hygiene standpoint post COVID-19 travel. There is also a necessity for round the year monitoring of roads and creation of health pitstops which can be formed with assistance of locals and can improve interstate and intrastate movement of visitors. In present times the pandemic has created new attitudes to lead life. Safety and hygiene are two important assurances expected by visitors before they actually make any transaction. The success factors in tourism are based on implementing plans which create the possibility of shaping situational experiences to the benefit of the visitors.
There is a certain motivation amongst the visitors to discover India through visiting historical monuments, forts and palaces; this in turn creates a larger impact on the leading tourist attraction in India. It is no secret that growth in the tourism industry is required, immediately, which can happen by reducing travel times and providing better comfort to visitors. India’s popularity on the global tourism map can be boosted through certified community led tours which can showcase living testimony of India’s rich heritage under ‘vocal for local’ theme and the places can be brought to limelight through determined promotion & publicity exercise done by stakeholders. Tourism, as a contributor to the economy, is critical for generating employment, income and foreign exchange in the country, and has a direct bearing on the agriculture, construction and handicrafts industry of the country.
Immersing into ‘slow experiences’ and ‘India heritage walks’ within the historic cities of Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Agra, Udaipur, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Varanasi, Tiruchirapalli, Bhubaneswar, Madurai, Gwalior, Vadodara, Bikaner, among others could be game changer for tourism sector. Visitors, in general, often desire immersive experiences to gain a multi-sensorial perception into the environs of a destination. The concept of ‘India Rural Walks’ offers a distinctive outlook of natural and cultural heritage when combined with adventurous outdoor living, farm stays, traditional cuisine and seasonal ‘heritage fiesta’ centric events. The focus on sustainability and responsible tourism is to curb exploitation of natural resources and manage preservation of cultural heritage within urban and rural regions. Awareness campaigns in the form of ‘my neighbourhood, my heritage’ should get activated to save the tangible and intangible heritage and further up the stakeholders to adopt a centralized approach to other issues troubling the region’s tourism activities.
The essence of ‘India City Discovery’ is in re-envisioning the future of tourism post COVID-19 and accordingly ‘tourprenuers’ have to introduce tourism products integrating the services of ‘digital therapeutics’ to maintain the health, safety, and hygiene related concerns. The diversification of tours and activities within the destinations help visitors in exploring the natural, historical and cultural assets in a thematic manner. On-site visitor and ‘digital traveller’ both would benefit from the narratives of rich historical past when given by ‘storytellers of India’. There is a tremendous economic, social, cultural, environmental, and heritage value that visitors can take when they visit cities and regions because of ‘the living legacies’. All types of travellers have something to experience specially the unique endowments of biodiversity, forests, rivers, alongside, rich culture and heritage. In our country, family value systems act like ‘culture glue’ which is inherently passed from one generation to another. The collective lifestyles of the region, creative expressions and traditional ceremonies become an enthralling encounter during travels. The residents and visitors have an opportunity to become ‘travel artisans’ and co-create ‘interactive city discoveries’ integrated with ‘story living’ to experience urban growth and rural aspirations. The tourism activities aid the revival of traditions and provide an economic incentive to communities to preserve and showcase them with a deep immersion and understanding of the place.
Incredible India is diverse because of which it is always recommended that the visitors should plan to explore the regions of India as per their interests, for example, in case of adventure tourism explorations, the visitors are taken to remote areas and exotic locales for trekking. Places like Ladakh, Sikkim, and Himalaya are famous for their adventure tourism offerings. On the other hand, states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir are popular for skiing facilities. Further ahead, white-water rafting is also gaining a lot of attraction in India and tourists are often seen to places such as Uttaranchal, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh for this adrenaline rush. Some of the places for visitors to explore wildlife are the Ranthambore National Park, Bharatpur National, Jim Corbett National Park and others. Our country is famous for its spiritual offerings and there are innumerable places for people to seek solace. Ecotourism enthusiasts who credit the tour guide's mission of ‘no footprints by city explorer’ can explore naturally endowed regions such as Sundarbans, Periyar National Park, and Kanha National Park. The culture discovery travellers can get aligned with ‘culture insider’ and understand mysticism, alongside attend various fairs and festivals and participate in local festivals and maximise on encounters curated by ‘India with locals’.
There are several options to go on ‘India City Discovery’ and by aligning a travel consultant to plan the trip one can discover more in less time. The recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic can be mitigated by taking ‘Exceptional experiences’ attributed through vibrant culture & heritage of India which leaves an imprint on the traveller’s memory. As mentioned by Erin Reese, “There are three trips you take to India: the one you think you’re going to have – that you plan for; the one you actually have; and the one you live through once you go back home.
About the author
Dr. Sachin Bansal, is the Founder and Chief Explorer® of ‘City Explorers® a Private Limited in India’ and he has multiple flagships functional in the tourism industry. As a destination branding specialist, he has coined the conceptual acronyms and led the co-creation through ‘Experiential Delivery in Tourism (EDiT)™’ and ‘Resonating Experiential Delivery Outcome (REDO)®’. You can reach Dr. Sachin Bansal at firstname.lastname@example.org
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