Encourage domestic tourism please

Mr DK Das is a well known retired IRS officer. He was the cadre-controlling Chief Commissioner of Income Tax in Kolkata and I was privileged to work as his Dy Commissioner (DC) Headquarters. One everlasting memory i have is of more than 12 years back. A fellow DC asked for a weeks leave. Sir asked him, “What have you written as the reason for requiring leave.? The officer hesitantly said “Rest and Recreation, Sir. Why Sir, anything amiss, Should i amend the reason.”?

Mr Das said “absolutely not. I am very happy. Recreation means recreate, the rest will help you recreate ourself and while you are an excellent officer this leave for much needed rest and recreation will have you rejuvenated and recreated”

What does this mean? Simple. Man needs to take off once in a while to recharge batteries. While exotic international holidays are not possible for all, but surely there are mini-breaks available which will suit all budgets and tastes. The answer is in Domestic Tourism a solution which is there in front of us but we normally fail to see it, or we deliberately do not want to.

Domestic tourism as distinguished from foreign tourism is having holidays within the country. It is an essential aspect of tourism and has tremendous potential. This is because there is no need for passport/visa, conversion of currency, extra and temporary insurance. One simply notes the time one has, decides the budget and makes a move. It can be on short notice as well, sometimes within hours.

Domestic tourism can be divided into the following categories;

Local Tourism– Have we taken a look at the various places of tourism interest in the place we live. One will be surprised to find out that maybe one has not. It is a good idea to find out more and visit these few places one by one. Say you are in Mumbai or Bhubaneswar or San Francisco or Atlanta. Have u seen the places in your city. Make a list and start ticking off one by one.

Regional Tourism. The next stage is regional tourism. Explore your State. There will certainly be many places of interest which you have never seen. For instance i have heard that there is a book 52 Getaways for 52 weekends in Mumbai. This means there are various nearby places where one can go for a day or two. Out of 52 even if 15 is covered in a 3-4 year stay wont it be nice ? Similar story for wherever you are located, be it Orissa or California.

National Tourism. Here one takes a train or a flight and goes to another state. Of course, in USA this too is often done by road due to the marvelous infrastructure and roads. However in India one can fly to various holiday destinations and the most popular probably are Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari there are many wonderful holiday destinations which one can choose to relax and unwind.

Now how can domestic tourism be encouraged and what are the factors which can lead to growth in domestic tourism. Some of them are as follows;

Good Roads. This is of utmost importance. Roads should not only be good, they should have facilities like food mall on the way, signs everywhere so that even in GPS era, the motorist is convenienced, good rest rooms, fuel pumps and so on. There should also be signs that the distance to the next food stop and fuel pump is such and such kilometer. People should be encouraged to stop only in these designated stops and nowhere else. Highway police should ensure this is implemented strictly so that people feel secure.

Culture of promoting tourism by locals. The local population should realise that tourism will help them and they in turn should encourage domestic tourists as well.

I remember 2 incidents of more than 20 years back when i and my wife visited Goa. The 1st was when we asked a tiny old lady where we will get a cab for Mapusa. She said if we are not in a hurry we can take a bus since the bus ticket was Rs 12/- while cab fare was Rs 225/- and the bus will take only 20 minutes more and moreover she was going there and would ensure we reached safely. Now Rs 213/- was a big sum of money 20 years back and we jumped at the offer. The second was when we wanted to have a bus tour and there was only one seat/ticket left. The local Guide said hop in, I will stand and guide you. He actually did. It was wonderful. Wont such culture promote tourism. Definitely, Yes. Such a welcoming culture should be by all locals everywhere.

Culture of asking your Junior why not applying for leave rather than why applying for leave. Often we take pride in “boasting” that “I havent taken leave for 3 years or 5 years”. I too am guilty of this. However it certainly is not anything to be proud of. Rather one should take leave regularly so that one gets back energised and works better for the organisation. One should also encourage others to do so. In any case , in the concept of earned leave, someone else is in charge and hence work continues to be done.

On this topic , one can go on and on, but the above illustrations are I am sure sufficient to raise some thought process on this important area. Tourism is a must to improve the perception of a country worldwide and domestic tourism is a must too which will produce numerous social, cultural and economic benefits and contribute to nation building as a whole.

Let us all do our bit for domestic tourism.

Thanks and looking forward to your feedback.







An open letter to BCCI

Dear BCCI Honchos, there is a 5 day format, an ODI format and a 20-20 format. However there is no 4 day format. So why have 4 day matches. Please take time out to read the following reasons why 4 day matches should be done away with.

The 1st week of the new year 2017 saw 2 enthralling Semi-finals of India’s premier 1st class competition, the Ranji Trophy. Mumbai defeated Tamil Nadu by 6 wickets while Gujarat prevailed over Jharkhand to set up an all West Zone Final for the prestigious Trophy.

Both the semi-finals were 5 day matches, as were the quarter-finals too. The current format of the Ranji Trophy is that the league matches are 4 day matches while the knockouts are 5 day matches. Now thankfully, the knockout stage is of 5 days, or the world would have missed a debut 5th day 100 by young Prithvi Shaw, who became the 2nd youngest debutant centurian for mumbai after a certain Sachin Tendulkar.

Now, my basic premise is that why have 4 day matches at all. That only encourages teams to try for the 1st innings lead. This year for the 1st time we had neutral venues, otherwise 4 day matches often meant for instance that the home team would try to have tailormade pitch for their spinners, so as to increase chances of winning if they needed wins desparately.

That apart, a 4 day match often does not allow a team which has slightly faltered in the 1st innings a chance to have a comeback, as with 1 day and 90 overs less, the other team is tempted to shut out the match after the 1st innings lead is secure. This also means that a dangerous defensive propensity may set in and this often may be difficult to alter in knockout 5 day games and more important, in the test matches.

Ultimately, the Ranji Trophy is meant to prepare the players for Test matches. So why not make the players play 5day matches from the beginning. Imagine how much a player of the 2 finalist teams will gain. He will play as many as 10 matches of 5 days each in the cricket season, counting 7 in the leage level and 3 in the knockout level. Even players of teams who do not qualify for the knockout level will benefit as they will play as many as 7 5 day matches. Ultimately the BCCI will benefit as more test playing players will be available for selection, giving the 5 wise men a wider pool to select from.

Lets take the Mumbai Tamil Nadu Match as a case study. If it had been a 4 day match, it would have ended as a tame draw with Mumbai winning by 1st innings lead. Rather, 5 days led Tamil Nadu to bat boldly and declare at 356/6 and giving Mumbai a 251 run target. Who knows, if Shaw had not scored a ton, and the pitch would have helped the bowlers, TN would have actually had a chance to win. In any case, the match being of 5 days duration increased the interest in it tremendously.

What could be the points against 5 day league matches. Maybe a longer cricket season, maybe fears of less crowds. Well, as it is there are less crowds in 4 day matches as well, so it will not make a major difference. A longer season will only help the players and make them tough and better Test prospects in the future.

BCCI. Go for it. It will mean only 7 more days of cricket for all the teams but could dramatically increase the talent pool for selection of test players. India is the Number 1 test nation as of now, and this could be a way of ensuring India holds on to the Numero Uno rank