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Tourism: Infrastructure Issues
 

Sudden boom in tourism in India took the tourism industry by storm. Every body was thinking how to sustain the growth. Infact in tourism, the revenue receipt is so huge (actually it stands a trillion dollar industry). This makes  India one of the largest foreign exchange earners and generator of employment. This tourism revolution is so large it would be foolish not to take advantage of it. With just a few initiatives India can really take benefits of this sun rise sector. The lack of infrastructure is visible in all segments of tourism be it related to Airports, Railway, Surface transport, Accommodation Trained manpower, shopping with ease, traveling in style, Medical Tourism, Tourism Education, Sustainable Development Norms etc. The tourism industry can maximize on the infrastructure development part by providing priority to tourism, tax, incentives to private sector, specialized norms for single window clearance for foreign investments, creating land, bank financials assistance mainly long term loan on low rate of interest, free flow of foreign exchange in the country, involving professionals and less interference by bureaucrats or free from red-tape. This is the right approach and only way to boost infrastructure. The challenge is to identify circuits for integrated development and select centers where facilities to come up in terms of popularity as in all infrastructural development financial crunch is the issue. So a very selective approach is also needed. But while on the infrastructure development rush, we should not ignore growth of Sustainable Tourism. The environment is a big issue that has long run implications. Thus there should be effective guidelines as the developers have not only to see sustainability but also hold corporate social responsibility (CSR) that benefits the local community.  There has to be “Ecological Balance” in terms of service provision and service consumption so that a good balance is maintained. There should not be development with short terms gains and all such efforts must empower people to come up & do something with source of income to locals & sustain the living standards.

India's infrastructure problems arise not just from its inability to create facilities as has been seen in the National Highways Development programmes, Railway, expensive programmes for airport developments. Equally frustrating is the failure of most images of these infrastructure projects to identify the last minute problems and fix them before they become unmanageable. Even the country's best managed infrastructure project Delhi Metro Rail Corporation  (D.M.R.C) is not free from this malaise. And the solution does not lie with the individual project managers. There is an urgent need for the civic authorities in each of these circuits to move in tandem with the infrastructure project managers and create necessary facilities in each of the cities to resolve the last minute problems & remove other bottlenecks so that the full benefits of these huge projects accrue to the people.

Despite the high voltage official “Incredible India campaign” to sell the country as an alternative destination the Tourist footfalls are rather modest for a continent sized country. The only explanation is “Improve Infrastructure deficiency” & till we become proactive, our tourist arrivals will stagnate at 5 or 6 million only. Good thing is that the  Union Ministry of Tourism (MOT) has issued guidelines for tourism infrastructure so that all states can create world class tourism infrastructure. Some outlines of this guideline indicate there is move at the right direction. We can & we will make India a choice destination.

The outlines of the Guidelines:-

1. State /UT Administration should, as far as possible, employ architects, including conservation and landscape    architects following codal formalities and these should be funded from their own resources.
2. Efforts should be made by the State/ UT Administration to have one window clearance for tourism related projects.
3.While formulating the schemes under Mega Destinations Projects/circuits by the States/UTs, attempts should be made to bring convergence with the JNNURM.

URBAN CIVIC AMENITIES

1. States should create all weather circulation networks and connectivity including creation of barrier free environment in and around tourist destinations for all users.
2. Proper attention would need to be given to the following:
• Design Codes, Aesthetics and Anthropometrics, choice of materials, fabrication, durability, weathering and maintenance • Signage: Adequacy and Placement  • Litter/recycling bins • Information/way finding • Information and Tourist Facilitation/ Convenience centre  • Public toilets • Parking units, including parking for two-wheelers and parking facilities for the physically challenged
3. States/Union Territory Administrations should encourage free and frequent distribution of high quality tourist maps, guides, CDs, posters, tourism calendars, fold and take along maps; also very strong graphic display to promote India's vibrant and diverse culture.
4. Detailed project report must make clear that the land is available with the implementing agency. If a project sanctioned by the Ministry has not been started due to non-availability of land even after one year, the project will be dropped and the funds will be recovered or adjusted.
5. Wayside amenities should be located after about every 50kms on the way leading to the tourist destinations/ circuits.
6. Signages must conform to, as far as possible, international code (World Tourism Organisation websites for Signages).
7. States/UT Administrations should make effort to upgrade and strengthen existing tourist facilities as a part of the tourism policy from their own resources.
8. States should put in place, as far as possible, institutional mechanism for management through any appropriate agency, of public conveniences after following codal formalities.

BUILT HERITAGE & SIGNAGES

1. States/Union Territory Administrations should formulate, as far as possible, a Comprehensive Conservation Master Plan including research, documentation, value-significance, damage assessment, conservation, management, tourism infrastructure, risk assessment (carrying capacity), site interpretation, safety/first aid and security, universal access, waste management, community consultations and engagement implementation strategy, business plan etc.
2. States/Union Territory Administrations may follow international norms and guidelines/UNESCO Charters for World Heritage Sites in particular and for other heritage sites/monuments in general (http://whc.unesco.org/en/guidelines).
3. For signages, UNWTO guidelines and NHAI guidelines (directional signages) are recommended to be followed.
4. The conservation and tourism development plans of the States/Union Territory Administrations should have sound financial and maintenance plans.
5. States/Union Territory Administrations should put in place appropriate institutional mechanism for timely completion and post implementation maintenance of the project/ destination.
6. For operation and maintenance, public private partnership (PPP) mode should be encouraged.

CLIMATICALLY RESPONSIVE AND VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE -

1. Attempts should be made to design climatically responsive and location sensitive tourism architecture.
2. Emphasis should be given on available local material and technology, vernacular design principles.
3. Efforts should be made for capacity building of all tourism personnel regarding location, environment and contextual characteristics of tourist spots. This could be funded from the Ministry of Tourism's CBSP Scheme.
URBAN LANDSCAPE - 1. Local ambience should be reflected in landscape with the use of local materials.
2. Use of Indigenous species/ Native species should be encouraged in plantscape.
3. Use of traditional methodology in construction techniques if found appropriate, should be explored and encouraged.
4. States/Union Territories should try to ensure that: • Bare minimum earthwork should be resorted to by retaining existing land profile as far as possible.
• Rainwater harvesting, ground water recharging and zero discharge should be adopted. • Appropriate designs for the boundary work should be evolved keeping in view aesthetics, security and cost factor. The cost should not generally exceed 20% of allocated budget of a particular scheme. • Solar lighting and use of renewable energy are encouraged. • Minimal use of Hardscape materials.
5. States/Union Territories should: •Discourage fountains and such water-based elements in areas with water paucity. • Discourage large scale illumination in areas with electricity shortage without compromising security. •Ensure that water source, required quantity of water and irrigation system are available before commencing the project. •Promote 'accessible' infrastructure. •Prepare and present maintenance Plan and maintenance budget to be presented for 5 years to ensure sustainability of projects. This should be funded through State Government/UT Administration or Public-private partnership.

Food Craft Institutes and Hotel Management Institutes should be on a developed plot of land.

1. Areas of future expansion should be undertaken but no auditorium should be constructed.
2. Master plan of the whole complex should be planned.
3. Landscape for project should be only to meet the essential requirements

By: Mr. Gour Kanjilal, Tourism Professtional, Former Dy. Director General/Regional Director, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

 

 

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