It’s time to go beyond culture and heritage tourism

India offers much more than just its culture and heritage. A whole new holistic approach is required to promote India as a year-round destination.

India as a country is full of diversity. Different parts and states of the country have their respective different languages, customs, ways of life, history, culture and heritage. It is the culture and heritage of the country that attracts large number of tourists from abroad. And, our Golden Triangle circuit comprising Delhi, Agra and Jaipur is the fulcrum of our cultural and heritage tourism.

Other facets of tourism which Incredible India can offer are adventure tourism, ecotourism, wildlife, Yoga, Ayurveda, etc. that are attracting very few tourists from abroad. We have massive Himalayan landscapes offering vast opportunities for adventure tourism, but there is a lack of awareness about this fact in our international tourism market. Foreign tourists identify India more with its famous monuments such as Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Royal palaces and other historical monuments than its natural attractions such as wildlife, mountains, rivers etc.

The country’s 7516.6 km of coastline touching 13 States and Union Territories are almost untapped as tourist attractions. Culture and Heritage tourism counts for around 40% of international tourism. India’s diversity in terms of culture and heritage has so far been the backbone of the country’s tourism sector, but too much focus on this aspect of tourism means that India continues to receive modest number of foreign tourists considering its vast size and tourism potential. For various reasons, the country has been unable to promote wildlife tourism,   adventure tourism, cruise tourism, rural and farm tourism.

With development of state-of-the-art infrastructure and MICE facilities, the country also needs to focus on MICE tourism. Recently, concluded 33rd convention of Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) also discussed this issue in its one of the sessions named ‘Moving beyond Culture and Heritage’.

Various Governments and the industry should adopt a holistic approach for the development and promotion of tourism in the country and look beyond culture and heritage tourism, if we want to make our country a year-round destination.  India is much more than a land of monuments and heritage sites. We need to tap our vast tourism potential that exists beyond our culture and heritage. At the same, time we also need to conserve our cultural and historical heritage for future generations.

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