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Improving infrastructure for tourism

Cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation: Lack of civic amenities is another problem. It is quite difficult to find a toilet at tourist sites. The existing ones are in a dilapidated condition, filthy, have water leakage and their fittings removed. In many cases, they do not have water supply at all and are infested with rodents. Women and foreign tourists have to suffer the most in such conditions. It leaves a very bad impression about our cleanliness habits on the foreigners.

Lack of interest in developing new tourist sites: Most of our tourist sites are decades old. We have hardly added any new tourist site to the tourism map in recent times despite having too many that have the potential to attract tourists and visitors. Also, many places remain undeveloped on account of poor connectivity and infrastructure which requires investment. No one is ready to invest. While government departments lack money and the will power to do anything, the organisations and individuals connected to tourism industry are only interested in harvesting the benefits. As a result, possible benefits do not accrue.

Dissemination of information: We are very weak in communication and dissemination of information, especially on complimentary basis. We have not at all utilised airports, train stations, bus terminus, taxi stands and markets for dissemination of tourism related information. Books on tourism are available mostly at high end book stalls and are seldom of international quality. They are often in English and also expensive. In contrast, in the developed countries and in many developing countries, visitors and tourists are provided with a wealth of information on tourism spots in their countries. Post offices and banks have special corners for the same, display stands are full of brochures, maps, booklets etc. which can be picked up by interested persons and high quality CDs are distributed freely. We are yet to start utilising this medium. Hence in other countries even very insignificant sites, buildings and museums receive large number of visitors round the year while in the country even prominent sites remain unvisited.

Encouraging activities which are detrimental to tourism and environment: To boost their income, certain organisations, institutions and individuals associated with tourism and travel services allow and even encourage activities which are detrimental to tourism. For example, at National Park or Sanctuaries the number of carnivorous animals is always small, occasional tourists often bribe the staff to view the animals from close range. Hence, to make quick profits, people connected to tourism management often track the animals and then take the visitors to the location. Earlier, baits were also offered to the animals to attract them to a particular spot. The practice allegedly continues for VIPs in a modified version. These activities affect the feeding and hunting habits and the life of the wild animals. Also, behaviour of the wild animals, which are basically shy in nature, change. They do not remain shy of humans and at times they attack people.

Development of incompatible facilities: Rich tourists generally demand special facilities even in forest, rural area or a small town. The tour operators, not risking the loss of tourists, oblige. Hence, we find star hotels, modern guesthouses with AC and TV in many rural areas, small towns and even inside or close to forest areas, National Parks, wildlife sanctuaries etc. These facilities change the landscape and adversely affect the normal life of local population Visitors do not get an opportunity to interact with local population and experience the local customs, rituals, lifestyle etc. defeating one of the major objectives of travel and tourism. Such facilities exert serious impact on the environment and wildlife as the consumption of electricity, water and other resources increase. Use of disposables made of non-biodegradable materials, high power detergents and other chemicals multiply. As the infrastructure at such locations is not geared to deal with such wastes, the wastes accumulate and degrade the environment. Also, the wild animals are attracted to the waste dumps and pose a danger to human lives.

We need to realise that tourists and visitors provide employment, economic growth and avenues for development to the country. There is a dire need to improve the infrastructure to encourage tourism, especially in far flung areas. Such expenses are an investment and not a drain on the resources. Various government departments need to work in tandem to achieve the main goal of attracting tourists. Also, new areas and avenues for tourism must be developed with proper facilities. There is a need to sensitise the administration departments towards the needs of tourists and visitors. It is also important that certain activities which are detrimental to tourism and environment, be curbed.

The figures of foreign and domestic tourists in the country might reflect a growth in the tourism industry, but sadly, the situation is not all that bright. While the year 2008 recorded more than 920 million tourists all over the world, India attracted only 5.4 million i.e. less than 0.6% of the world figure. In the same year, the revenue generated from tourism amounted to about US$ 944 billion whereas India could procure only 1.24% of it. That explains why India stood at the 41st position globally in tourist arrivals. Why are we lagging behind? The reasons are many. Lack…

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