Diversification And Innovation In Indian Tourism
BUSINESS ECONOMICS|September 16-31, 2019
Indian tourism has a huge unrealised potential.

Twentyfirst century tourism calls for tourism diversification and realisation of relevant specialisations through innovations. Some recent examples of tourism diversification include adventure tourism, wildlife tourism, religious tourism, medical tourism, wellness tourism, and weekend tourism.

Adventure tourism

Due to a diverse landscape, India is increasingly gaining momentum as an adventure tourism destination for domestic as well as international tourists. The Himalayan range in the north and east, numerous difficult-to-reach rivers and lakes and the more than 7,500 km of coastline offer a wide range of adventure activities in India. Summers are generally preferred for trekking in the high mountains apart from the Chadar trek in Ladakh which is done in winters. Additionally, biking expeditions in Ladakh are gaining popularity during the summer months. Travellers also prefer scuba diving in the nonrainy seasons in numerous beach locations like Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and Goa among others.

With growing number of travel operators offering unique adventure experiences that are gaining traction among the youth, the market of adventure tourism is experiencing a growth. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.4% during 2017-23 and there has been a 42% increase in popularity of high altitude regions among adventure travellers over the past three years. The Indian tourism department observed 2018 as the ‘Year of Adventure Tourism’ to promote this segment.

Nanak Sharma, associated with Himalayan Trekkers, an adventure tourism operator, informed BE, “The most popular treks in the western Himalayas are the Ladakh-Markha trek, the Parng La trek from Kibber to Tso Moriri, the Darcha to Lamayuru trek, and the Darcha to Padum trek. The Poon Hill, the Annapurna Base Camp, Goecha La Trek, Nathula La Pass and the Living Root Bridge treks are popular choices in eastern India. However, global economic slowdown has negatively impacted our segment. We are receiving lesser number of foreign trekkers in recent times.”

A recent FICCI report titled ‘India Inbound Tourism’ states, “The global adventure tourism market was valued at $6.80 trillion in 2017 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 46% till 2022. According to the NITI Aayog, “India’s nature and adventure tourism is still at a budding stage with barely 3% of the 668 protected areas attracting any significant tourism activity.”

The Indian tourism department along with the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) recently launched the ‘Indian Adventure Tourism Guidelines (Version 2.0)-2018’, which focuses on safety and quality norms for adventure tourism in India. The department also extends central financial assistance for infrastructural development at adventure tourism destinations. Adventure tourism has also been a key theme under the Swadesh Darshan scheme.

Wildlife tourism

India is home to a wide array of wildlife that attracts domestic and foreign tourists and many photography enthusiasts. In India, wildlife safaris are conducted around the year, barring the rainy season. Most of the protected forests remain closed during monsoons due to rain induced road damages.

Photographers are playing an important part in boosting wildlife tourism. Nirmalya Chakraborty, Founder President and Editor of Jungle Rhythms, a wildlife photography journal, told BE, “An image is worth a thousand words. As news spreads like wild fire about great sightings over various social networks, more and more tourists get inclined to visit the national parks and try their luck. This creates a positive impact on local community income through eco-tourism and in turn, the landscape is conserved through better protection efforts. Regulated wildlife tourism is good for both - the tourism sector and wildlife conservation.”

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