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.