Towards taking tourirsm to new heights
India has great potential for tourism, and it is indeed one industry which offers the maximum potential for growth, and employment oppourtunites and also huge potential for self-employment. It also drives a huge service sector growth, in terms of chartered buses, vans, cars, taxis, and what have you. The shops and establishments that thrive in places of religious and tourist interest would run into several lakhs, and this itself is growing at the rate of 25%, estimated by some experts.
Be that as it may, it still remains a grey area in many States.
What needs to be done is a huge task by itself, and it consists of several sub tasks. Let us explore each of these in some detail.
Let us take for example, what is lacking in two States, that is, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and then try to focus on what can be possibly done in other States as well.
Let us first examine Tamil Nadu in some detail. Tamil Nadu is home to two beautiful hill stations -- Kodaikanal and Ooty -- and the latter is considered the Queen of Hill stations in India, with its captivating beauty. However, each of these two hill stations are very dirty and are becoming unmanageable, with water supply being a major problem. The major problem with these two hill stations is not the lack of rainfall, but the lack of proper catchment areas, where the rain water could be harvested. These are steep hills, and water does not stay at all, and simply gets drained away.
The solution is to create small ponds and lakes where water can be harvested. Once this is done, the water problem can be easily managed.
There are a huge number of temples, and the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation has a huge fleet of buses that are fairly well maintained, and there are a number of package tours as well. These tours also entail stay at some fairly good lodges, most of which is maintained by the State Government.
However, the State has done nothing, apart from operating a huge fleet of buses to every hill station. To capture the attention of tourists, it is essential that domestic tourism is not neglected. The Tamil Nadu Government should organize more package tours at more price points, not only to earn more revenue, but also to keep the revenues ticking. For example, there are six abodes of Lord Muruga, at places like Tiruthani, and Palani. During the festival seasons, the State Government does run some special buses, and the fleet is okay. However, there are no package tours to attract people from the neighboring States in large numbers.
There are thousands of people who visit Tirupathi, from various parts of Andhra Pradesh. They also visit Tiruthani, and further move on to the Lord Yoga Anchaneya and Lord Yoga Narasimha temples at Sholinghur, and also visit the Varadaraja Perumal temple at Kanchipuram and the Kamatchi temple, also at Kanchipuram.
The Tamil Nadu Government should charge only Rs.1500/- per head, and also provide breakfast through a tie up, with some restaurant at Tiruthani. Apart from this, they should take the passengers to both Sholinghur and the Kanchipuram temples. This is a superb way of doing business, and it should be possible to attract so many tourists if the buses are parked just outside the temple premises at Tirumula or some nearby place, so as to cause minimum dislocation to traffic.
There could also be private sector participation. Let the private parties advertise on the interiors of the buses, and but take up the total cost of maintenance of the buses, including providing spare parts. One needs to innovate all the way, and once this is done, the revenues will keep ticking.
In Mumbai, there are daily package tours and these are done very professionally. In Chennai, we do have the hop on, hop off buses, but these buses are not enough. Chennai has so many tourist spots and through some arrangement with some private lodges, the people who land in Chennai, should be attracted for two day tours, at a cost of say, Rs, 1100/-, which should include breakfast through some arrangement with some standard hotel. Once the numbers start ticking in, the hotels, like Sangeethas might be willing to reduce prices and offer special packages, for breakfast. The lodges should offer decent accommodation at prices that are ten percent less than normal prices. Since the lodges get huge traffic, the volume game will come into play, and it is indeed possible, to attract North Indians.
To attract the North Indian tourists, all arrangements should start from Chennai Central, and the buses should start from Central, go upto the lodges where there are arrangements, pick up the tourists and proceed to the tie-up restaurants for breakfast and then proceed to the different tourist places. Once such tours are arranged, it will also erase the bad impression created by the atrocious auto drivers, who fleeze North Indians, and take them for a big ride.
One does find that in Bangalore, there are several trips organized by private parties, at very reasonable prices. Tamil Nadu should take a lead from here.
The Tamil Nadu Government should name the scheme, "Dekko Chennai", and advertise it on televison too. One way of attracting the tourists is to aggressively market the product, and this should always be done. Of couse, the private parties could also be encouraged to do the job, at the same prices.
One should always remember that a huge majority of Indians are pure budget tourists. In places like TYiruchirapalli, it is still possible to find lodges for less than Rs.500/- per day, but in Chennai, costs are shooting up. Through public-private sector participation, it is possible to achieve wonders.
What has been discussed about Tamil nadu, applies to other States as well. Hyderabad, for example, is a beautiful city with so many beautiful spots. It is still possible to make tourism a far better revenue earner. Once again, the budget tourist will remain the main target, and the Telengana Government needs to understand this fact.
Tourism is a real money spinner. Creativity and innovation are required to make it a far better revenue earner, than what it is now.
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