Adventure abound beyond Himalayas
The Ministry of Tourism, in its revamped campaign - Incredible India 2.0, plans to lay emphasis on developing and promoting adventure tourism to India. Industry stakeholders and key players identify new circuits beyond the Himalayas, challenges in the ind
I believe adventure tourism is the only segment of travel that has the capacity to double the Indian tourism economy within two years and wipe out the lean season during summers as the Himalayas offer the perfect location during this season. There is a need to develop accessibility into remote areas with a three-tier air connectivity of wide-bodied aircrafts to easily connectable destinations. Small turbo props, fixed wing aircrafts and seaplanes need to be deployed to remote regions with Greenfield airstrips. Also, choppers can be used to traverse the various regions in the Himalayas and the islands. Extensive publicity of Indian adventure tourism attractions is also very important to boost this segment.
The government needs to consider zero-tax on adventure tourism, at least for a few years, as this segment is the worst hit by GST due to Reverse Charge Mechanism (RCM) applicable on services sourced from the unorganised sector. Adventure tourism is largely dependent on the services procured from the unorganised sector like porters, ponies and field staff that include mountain guides, sherpas, camping staff, small lodges and homestays and thus, due to GST, the package cost for all adventure activities in the Himalayan region has gone up by 20-23 per cent. India is blessed with a long coastline, deserts, rivers and many other natural heritage sites where adventure and active travel products can flourish. We have huge potential for aero sports and water tourism in the country. Inland waterways and sea cruising along with water adventure sports is possible in states and union territories like Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep Islands, Kerala, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Daman and Diu.
We are looking forward to the government’s initiative and its impact on the adventure travel sector. Besides the full-throttle exposure and promotion of new activities and destinations, my strong recommendation to the government would be an equal emphasis on bringing out the right regulation and safety guidelines for adventure tourism across India. Adventure is a niche travel activity and safety is always a major concern. Therefore, such regulation and standardisation is fundamental for long-term growth in this sector along with aggressive promotional plans. The government needs to work with local operators in various regions to understand the potential, niche advantages and opportunities of the destinations and also establish local infrastructure for adventure tourism. In addition to the Himalayas, there are exciting and growing adventure opportunities across the diverse Indian landscape, be it in the traditionally leisure destinations such as Kerala and Rajasthan, which are opening up to adventure tourism; the tribal belt of Chhattisgarh; Rann of Kutch in Gujarat; Madhya Pradesh, etc.
Mohan Tickoo Founder and Managing Director, KVT Holidays
Ravi Tickoo Managing Director Active India Holidays
Sanjay Basu Managing Director, Far Horizon Tours