The Gist of Yojana: August 2015

The Gist of Yojana: August 2015

Infrastructure and Tourism Development

Tourism Product is a complex consumptive experience that results from a process where tourists use multiple of services (information, relative prices, transportation, accommodation, and attraction services. Tourist experiences are also shaped by economic and political conditions and structural features which contribute to the nature of the destination product. Murphy et al (2000) related this type of product to a supply and demand analysis and described how the various components of the destination interact with travelers during their trip.

The pioneer in acknowledging the role of service infrastructure in creating a product experience was Smith (1994). He suggested that “service infrastructure is housed within the larger macro-environment or physical plant of the destination” (Smith, 1994). He also stressed the fact that the level, use, or lack of infrastructure and technology in a destination are also visible and determining features that can enhance the visitors’ trip experience. The tourist destination product is also better understood in the context of comparative and competitive advantage. Crouch and Ritchie (1999), argued that factor conditions are important determinants of attractiveness as tourists travel to a destination to receive the destination experience.

Every element has been categorised under core attraction and supporting element. The destination’s general infrastructure services in this category in fact, represent one of the most important factors. The tourism phenomenon relies heavily on public utilities and infrastructural support. Tourism planning and development would not be possible without roads, airports, harbours, electricity, sewage, and potable water.

Tourism infrastructure is the supply chain of transport, social and environmental infrastructure collaborating at a regional level to create a destination including:

Transport Infrastructure which provides the visitor access from international and domestic source markets to destinations; and includes airports, major roads and rail.

Social Infrastructure which is the stock of rooms to accommodate visitors and physical structures for exhibitions, events and services that attract visitors. This infrastructure includes hotels, convention centres, stadiums, galleries and tourist precincts in a destination.

Environmental Infrastructure which’ is the natural estate of national parks, marine parks and reserves, including visitor facilities.

Collaborative Infrastructure which is the network of regional, state and national tourism organizations that market destinations and distribute tourism products.

India is probably the only country that offers various categories of tourism. These include mountains, forests, history, adventure tourism, medical tourism (including ayurveda and other forms of Indian medications), spiritual tourism, beach tourism (India has the longest coastline in the East), etc.

The Indian tourism industry did not have it so good since the early 1990s. Though the Indian economy has slowed, it is still growing faster than the rest of the world. With Indian economy growing at around 5 per cent per annum and rise in disposable incomes of Indians, an increasing number of people going on holiday trips within the country and abroad is resulting in the tourism industry growing wings. The potential for India to attract tourists is unlimited and tourism can play an increasingly beneficial role in the Indian economy in the years to come. Despite the numerous problems, tourism industry was the second-largest foreign exchange earner for India. Tourism contributed 6.6 per cent of India’s GDP and created 39.5 million jobs in 2012. The total number of inbound tourists has grown at 16 per cent in the last five years and is expected to grow at 12 per cent in the next decade. During 2013, travel and tourism industry contributed Rs 63,160 crore to the economy.

The growth pattern suggests that Indian tourism growth is not solely based on foreign tourist arrivals alone as due to global reasons and disturbances, this phenomenon is always affected adversely. However, domestic tourism has been growing in a settled way. Fairs and festivals of India are continuous phenomena. Events like Kumbha in north and Onam and Mahamastakabhisheka in the south are events that fetch a lot of tourists almost every year.

It is fast turning into a volume game where, an ever-burgeoning number of participants are pushing up revenues of industry players (hotels, tour operators, airlines, shipping lines, etc). This will result in greater room occupancies and average room revenues (ARRs) in the country. ARRs have moved up and room occupancy rates have also shot up. Thus, the tourism sector is expected to perform well in future and the industry offers an interesting investment opportunity for long-term investors. Realizing the potential in India, international and domestic hotel chains were rushing to cash in on it. Medical tourism was poised for rapid development in the future and India is busy developing first-class facilities to attract this multi-billion dollar niche market.

Accommodation, transport and recreation facilities are the key components of any major tourism destination. The competitiveness of these facilities at a national or international scale determines whether they become valuable assets for, or likely impediments to, attracting visitors to a destination.

It is quite obvious that India does not possess good roads. Only 12 per cent meet world class criteria. This is far too less to attract international tourists. Entire Europe loves to travel by road for tourism purposes; but Indians have to think multiple times before travelling on roads. Moreover, undisciplined driving makes it even more dangerous. India has one of the highest rankings in road accidents. India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which comprises rivers, canals, backwaters, creeks, etc. About 50 million tonnes of cargo corresponding to 2.82 billion tonne was transported in 2006-07 by Inland Water Transport (IWT). Its operations are currently restricted to a few stretches in the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly Rivers, The Brahmaputra, the Barak River, the rivers in Goa, the backwaters in Kerala, inland waters in Mumbai and the deltaic regions of the Godavari-Krishna rivers.

India has 46 airports; however, there are not many which connect with the rest of the country. Due to this, the time taken for travelling by air is many times more than what is taken by train. For example, if one wishes to travel from Agra to Varanasi or Jaipur by air, he or she will have to go to Delhi before boarding any other flight.

If India does not take advantage of this tourism revolution, it will have only herself to blame. With just a few initiatives, India can really take benefits of this sunrise sector. The lack of infrastructure is visible in all segments of tourism be it related to airports, railway, surface transport, accommodation trained manpower, shopping with ease, traveling in style, medical tourism, tourism education, sustainable development norms etc.
The challenge is to identify circuits for integrated development and select centers where facilities to come up in terms of popularity as in all infrastructural development financial crunch is the issue. So a very selective approach is also needed.

Despite the high voltage official “Incredible India Campaign” to sell the country as an alternative destination, the Tourist footfalls are rather modest for a continent sized country.

The only way we can progress is “Improve Infrastructure deficiency” and till we become proactive, our tourist arrivals will stagnate at 5 or 6 million only. It is heartening that the Union Ministry of Tourism (MOT) has issued guidlines for tourism infrastructure so that all states can create world class tourism infrastructure. Some outlines of this guidline indicate that there is a move the right direction.

1. State/UT Administration should, as far as possible, employ architects, including conservation and landscape architects following codal formalities and these should be funded from their own resources.
2. Efforts should be made by the State/UT Administration to have one window clearance for tourism related projects.
3. While formulating the schemes under Mega Destination Projects/circuits by the States/UTs, attempts should be made to bring convergence with the JNNURM.

Urban Civic Amenities

1. States should create all weather circulation networks and connectivity including creation of barrier free environment in and around tourist destinations for all users.
2. Proper attention would need to be given to the following :

  • Design Codes, Aesthetics and Anthropometics, choice of materials, fabrication, durability, weathering and maintenance.
  • Signage: Adequacy and Placement
  • Litter/recycling bins.
  • Information/way finding.
  • Information and Tourist Facilitation/Convenience Centre
  • Public toilets.
  • Parking units, including parking for two-wheelers and parking facilities for the physically challenged.

3. Detailed project report must make clear that the land is available with the implementing agency. If a project sanctioned by the Ministry has not been started due to non-availability of land even after one year, the project will be dropped and the funds will be recovered or adjusted.

4. States/UT Administrations should make effort to upgrade and strengthen existing tourist facilities as a part of the tourism policy from their own resources.

5. States should put in place, as far as possible, institutional mechanism for management through any appropriate agency, of public conveniences after following codal formalities.

Built Heritage & Signages

1. States/Union Territory Administrations should formulate, as far as possible, a Comprehensive Conservation Master Plan including research, documentation, value-significance, damage assessment, conservation, management, tourism infrastructure, risk assessment (carrying capacity), site interpretation, safety/first aid and security, universal access, waste management, community consultations and engagement implementation strategy, business plan etc.

2. States/Union Territory Administrations may follow international norms and guidlines/UNESCO Charters for World Heritage Sites in particular and for other heritage sites/monuments in general <>.

3. The conservation and tourism development plans of the States/Union Territory Administrations should have shound financial and maintenance plans.

4. For operation and maintenance, public private partnership (PPP) mode should be encouraged.

Climatically Responsive and Vernacular Architecture

1. Attempts should be made to design climatically responsive and location sensitive tourism architecture.
2. Emphasis should be given on available local material and technology, vernacular design principles.
3. Efforts should be made for capacity building of all tourism personnel regarding location, environment and contextual characteristics of tourist spots. This could be funded from the Ministry of Tourism’s CBSP Scheme.

Urban Landscape

1. Local ambience should be reflected in landscape with the use of local materials.
2. Use of Indigenous species/Native species should be encouraged in plantscape.
3. Use of traditional methodology in construction techniques if found appropriate, should be explored and encouraged.
4. States/Union Territories should try to ensure that:

  • Bare minimum earthwork should be resorted to by retaining existing land profile as far as possible.
  • Rainwater harvesting, gournd water recharging and zero discharge should be adopted.
  • Solar lighting and use of renewable energy are encouraged.

5. States/Union Territoreis should:

  • Discourage fountains and such water-based elements in areas with water paucity.
  • Discourage large scale illumination in areas with electricity shortage without compromising security.
  • Promote ‘accessible’ infrastructure.
  • Prepare and present maintenance Plan and maintenance budget to be presented for 5 years to ensure sustainability of projects. This should be funded through State Government/UT Administration or Public-private partnership.

To conclude, I must say that all attractions are meaningless if accessibility is not smooth. Indian planners will have to understand this. The sooner, the better. Roads and rails are not going to serve tourists alone; India’s economy too will get a big boost if this is done.

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