Rethinking tourism to tap into the potential of ecotourism – Jammu and Kashmir Latest News | tourism

Ajay Khajuria
The theme ‘Rethinking Tourism’, adopted by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) for World Tourism Day 2022, is perhaps best suited to focus on the challenges facing the tourism industry worldwide today, such as struggling to recover in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. The number of international tourist arrivals, which reached an all-time high of 1466.00 million global tourists, and 17.91 million tourist arrivals to India (including NRIs) in 2019, when the epidemic broke out, fell to 399.00 million worldwide and 6.33 million tourists Coming to India in 2020. This resulted in a loss of $930 billion in international tourism revenue globally in 2020 which also included a $23.10 billion loss in foreign exchange earnings from tourism in India which decreased from $30.05 billion in 2019 to $6.95 billion in 2020. Much of 2020 and 2021 remained a weak spot for the tourism industry, and there are encouraging indications that it is now heading toward a strong recovery in 2022, as the pandemic subsides. According to the latest UNWTO figures, nearly 250 million international arrivals were recorded from January to May 2022, indicating the sector has recovered to nearly half (46%) of the 2019 pandemic outbreak levels. India also indicated a recovery in the number of international tourist arrivals to India during the period from January to July 2022, which amounted to 2.76 million tourists, which is equivalent to 45.17% of the arrivals during the same period in 2019. . As the industry strives to reach levels of pre-tourism activity, it becomes imperative for destinations to rethink and work on how to accommodate the post-virus behavior of potential tourists and modernize infrastructure and facilities to develop tourism such as a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient economy sector. Among the main concerns of tourists, of course, is the maintenance of safety and hygiene protocols. This requires putting in place appropriate mechanisms and regulations to increase hygiene, socially distancing seating, provision of hand gel, application of masks, etc. in some places, while at the same time easing travel restrictions, and providing easy access. As the threat of a re-emergence of COVID has made people reluctant to travel and visit tourism hotspots, it is crucial that destinations announce their hygiene and safety policies and what measures are in place to convince tourists that they are safe for them. It is widely recognized that another important factor affecting the industry in the wake of the pandemic is the growing desire on the part of tourists to avoid crowded destinations and visit new places away from the familiar, as well as to minimize the impact on the environment and local cultures during the visit. There is also an increasing tendency to spend more time getting to know local heritage and cultures more closely. For a destination like Jammu and Kashmir, this shift in tourist preference in a post-Covid scenario represents a golden opportunity in the development and promotion of the abundant mountainous areas of the Union Territory for ecotourism as well as for adventure tourism and other outdoor activities with huge potential, especially in Jammu, which has largely remained outside The main stream of tourism promotion so far. Thus, a rethinking of the current trend to bring this untapped potential is likely to focus on beneficial outcomes in promoting tourism in Jammu and Kashmir. Although the unique topography of Jammu and Kashmir, which includes a full range of geographical features ranging from subtropical plain to temperate mountainous regions, has the potential to promote to cater to a number of tourism sectors, myopic focus has led to a limited number of destinations such as Srinagar , Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Shri Mata Vaishnudevi ji, etc. in the past, to deprive a large number of other beautiful regions of the benefits that can be gained from a comprehensive approach to the development of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir. Many rural areas in the Federation territory have the potential to promote ecotourism, which is one of the fastest emerging sectors of tourism and could have a profound impact on its rural economy. It includes tourists who not only want to move away from the cities to gain new knowledge and experiences, but also want to ensure that their visit has a positive impact on the population and natural resources of the destinations, while also generating profits from visitors. Return to the preservation and preservation of the natural environment and local cultural integration. The unexplored regions of Jammu and Kashmir offer endless opportunities for eco-tourism throughout the year. During the summer months, include, among other activities, wildlife tourism opportunities in Kisthwar High Altitude National Park, which is home to many rare species of mammals, chief among them the Snow Leopard, the famous Kashmir Stag ‘Hangul’, Musk Deer, Ibex and Himalayan Tahr, Markhor, Himalayan Black Bear, Brown Bear, etc. Kisthwar Himalayas also offers excellent mountaineering opportunities for climbing the world famous peaks like Sickle Moon, Brahma I, Brahma II, Nun etc., as well as Doda and other areas in the folds of the Lesser Himalayas that have mild conditions also provide opportunities to enhance trekking, camping, nature study and camping. Bird watching, photography and eco-friendly adventure activities including paragliding, mountain biking, snowboarding, rock climbing and river rafting during this period. During the winter months, besides skiing which may be held at a number of suitable sites in the temperate regions referred to in the previous paragraph, almost all other activities mentioned above, with the exception of site-specific activities, may be organized in the regions in the sub-tropical and intermediate regions in regions over Shivalik chain length. Chenab offers excellent river rafting opportunities in the Reasi region. While there are kayaking and canoeing opportunities in Lakes Mansar and Ranjit Sagar. With the potential to promote ecotourism on the scale described above, a shift towards including a focus on this sector of tourism has the potential to have a broad positive impact on income generation, education and poverty reduction by improving individual livelihoods in communities in remote areas. in the Union Territory. The third important aspect that needs urgent attention is the development of human resources in the tourism sector. There can be no two views that the sustainable development of the sector requires close cooperation between all groups of major stakeholders, from government to communities as well as the private sector as well as tourists. Also, as mobile technology is rapidly becoming a part of people’s lives and changing the way tourists choose the places they want to visit, the way they book their holidays and the activities they want to participate in, this requires the right human capital base across the sector. To meet current and future market demand as well as to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of tourist destinations. Therefore, all human resource development initiatives must be contemplated and implemented to reap the full benefits of the rapidly growing and changing tourism industry. Rethinking to give wider scope for tourism development in Jammu and Kashmir in line with current trends in the industry can dramatically alter the outcomes and put future growth on a sustainable and stable footing for the future. (The author is retired from JKAS and former Director of Tourism, Jammu)

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