Tourism is immense importance to India and our success story will continue undiminished. Tourism has always been appreciated and actively promoted for its economic value. It helps in reducing poverty and in maintaining quality of life through employment, through economic prosperity, balance of payments, investments and substantially the tourism resources are utilized for augmenting the infrastructure and integrating tourism products with international markets, which in turn generate tourists for the country and chain, continues. Very rarely we think of its major value related to national integration and international understanding.
For a country like India where there are various religious faiths, various linguistic communities, various customs and traditions, various food habits and dress culture, there is always need to have some common link which covers every body’s interest and works for every body’s benefit. What better link could one think other than tourism? There is now a greater awareness about tourism as great force of unity and understanding each other from close quarter and appreciate each other’s rich heritage. All negative things, which are happening in our country or elsewhere, are due to ego and lack of appreciation of each other’s culture or strong religious fundamentalism. Ancient philosophers like Shankaracharya thought of bringing Indians from various parts on pilgrimage by setting up Mutts (religious places known as ‘Chardham’) by having one each at Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Sringeri so that people from North moves to South, South to East, East to West or Vice-versa. Thus, through pilgrimage tourism there was sincere effort to bring our people together. With tourism infrastructure developed and people exploring other’s region and experiencing other’s culture, in a country like India it is great source of “Experiencing Unity in Diversity” Government is giving Leave Travel concessions, private/corporate houses are offering incentive tours to their executives/staff-all these have given enough motivation to have tours in and around the county at various tourist places in India. When they interact with local people, try ethnic food, participate in local festivals, there is a feeling of oneness forgetting the language barriers, or religious faiths or food habits, only objective being pleasure, leisure, experience, understanding, appreciation and friendship. Thus tourism has all the ingredients that need to bring unity or ‘Ekata’. India, which is the place for diverse culture, diverse natural scene, and diverse faiths – unity, is the major issue. Tourism has proved the corner stone to build unity.
India is a great example of communal Harmony and Tourism co-existence. India is the birthplace of some of the world’s most influential religions – Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. Over the years with the wave of invaders, missionaries, traders and those fleeing preservation, new religions such as Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism were introduced and absorbed on our soil. Over the centuries unity or communal harmony has emerged a spirit of co-existence and better understanding among her people. This is evident from the fact that a person from one community can never think of celebrating any festival without the participation of other. India is home to the second largest Muslim population in the world. Christianity flourished in India, several centuries before it was accepted in Europe. It was established in India on the arrival of St. Thomas, an apostle of Jesus Christ in 52 AD when he landed on the shores of Kerala. The first Zoroastrianism to enter India arrived on the Gujarat coast in the 10th – Century soon after the Arabian conquest of Iran and by the end of the 17th century most of them settled in India. Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism all flourished together with Hinduism. The earliest Jews came to India two thousand years ago. India sheltered all religions, creed and beliefs. Later even Sufis, Bahais all were granted protection and accepted into the fold of main stream, given land, equal opportunity to excel in their profession of choice and remain Indian. This communal harmony brought many tourists to India to see themselves the broad mindedness of our culture and belief in the communal harmony. Undoubtedly Tourism is the key component for communal harmony and this oneness in the diversity is our unique tourism attraction.