Every country and place has a different charm to it – be it the age-old historic charm or the beautiful landscape. Every place creates memories – some more than others and it is not always the beauty of the place that defines the strength of the memory. More often than not, it is the experience of the place that leaves you with memories. An experience by way of how you felt, what you did and more importantly, what that place offered you in terms of facilities and entertainment.
Places like Rome are absolutely fascinating when it comes to history. The Roman history is not just well cataloged but runs through city of Rome. As you walk through the city, you see the Roman ruins everywhere.
Drawing a parallel to this city in India, is Hampi in India. This small town is a fascinating place with ruins and excavations all over the place. The history and charm of this place are amazing and you can be really awed by the stuff that you see around.
So then, if Roman history is as fascinating as the Indian one, why is it that the two of them have such different auras? Given the treasure trove of ancient heritage, we are sitting on a gold mine of tourism. But why is it that we are not commanding a premium for it? Here are the few reasons why –
1) Passive tourism Vs. Active tourism
Tourism is a well – developed industry abroad. Countries like Singapore,Italy, Thailand etc know how to market each of their attractions. Starting with the pricing for the entrance fees to showcasing and developing an attraction – each process is so professionally organized and well thought through from the point of view of the tourist.
Take the case of the Singapore Zoo. This is one of the main places that features on every traveler’s list when visiting Singapore. What about the zoo makes it so visited? Frankly, India too, have some good ones, but the difference lies in the way we market it. Singapore zoo is an interactive fun place where visitors get engaged, thus, increasing their interest levels. From interactive feeding sessions to daily shows and special sessions, the Singapore zoo offers a complete “experience” with animals. It leaves the travelers with memories to take away with them. In contrast to the same, the zoos in India are very passive. You come and watch the animals and leave without really having an “experience”.
Let’s take the example of museums next. The museums in the Western countries are very well cataloged and each display is very well done, with no clutter and clear explanation for each artifact. Every attraction is enabled with a voice-enabled guided tour to make the entire attraction interesting and a more tourist-friendly place. The museums are loaded with special shows and interactive zones for people to engage and have a better interest. For example, during my last visit to the British museum, there were small interactive zones for the kids to teach them how to identify different cultures, through small games. This helps the visitor get more interested and engaged in the display and one does not mind paying a premium for it.
What is free is never valued and what is paid for is priceless.
2) The love to leave yourself behind!
Appreciation and respect for the age-old relics is something that we indigenous tourists, completely lack. We believe in leaving behind ourselves physically when we visit these places. I think the idea of making “your love for you beloved” immortal by de-facing a beautiful historic monument is so powerful that people lose sight of the fact that they are vandalizing our own heritage. Vandalism persists across nations but we as a nation, with our loose laws and security measures, have ruined quite a few of our age-old treasures.
My dear tourists, Stop piggybacking on the existing history to make a name. Instead etch your own name in history with some of your own noble deeds.
3) The whole world is our trash can!
Patience to hold your litter till you reach an actual disposal box is missing. And where one throws, the other follows to actually make it a garbage heap. Not just an eye-sore but a dispenser of foul smell, the entire process dilutes the entire experience of discovering an age-old heritage. Where the same Indian goes to Rome and ensures he disposes waste in the right bin, at home, he assumes someone will clean up after him.
Here is to Modi’s Swacch Bharat Abhiyan – “Cleanliness does begin at home!”.
Can someone please tell this traveler that?
In the end, let me leave you with these thoughts – While on the first reason, there is a lot to be done in India and as a traveler, you can only suggest and demand it from the tourism boards, the rest of the points is our responsibility as a traveler in India. I would like to leave all you travelers with a plea – “Make our attractions more famed by your noble deeds” Stop littering and start respecting what has been left for us, so that we can hand the same over to the Next Gen in a clean and attractive manner.