In India, a developing nation, tourism plays a vital role in the economy. The Indian subcontinent has rich diversity of nature-from the parching desert of Rajasthan to the icy wind of Ladakh, several kinds of clothing, food habits and life styles. This is a land of many hues for which myriads of foreign tourists visit India. We treat them with affection and honour enshrined in our tradition of “Guest is God” in return for which we earn precious foreign currency and respect all over the world. Amid the arms race, the Indian citizens spread the message of peace and coexistence. When a tourist comes and understands the land of Buddha he realizes that India has spread the message of Buddhism in through out Asia. The ideal of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the world is a family) shall one day translate it into action; tourism is the means to accomplish it.
When peoples of different lands meet, interact and make friends, such relationships foster brotherhood. When a country aims a missile out of ill-will at another country their own people inspired by the feeling of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam would turn it away. This is only possible when there is free and unhindered tourist traffic. And who is responsible for it, the Department of Tourism, World Tourism Organization or every citizen? Besides being Indian citizens we are also world citizen and along with rights we also have duties: we have to ponder how to make free tourist traffic possible and how can we thread the world together with flowers so fragrant with the feelings of love, compassion and amity.
Our hospitality and responsibility, begins the moment a foreign tourist steps into an Indian aircraft. The airhostesses with their smiles arouse curiosity and one becomes eager to reach India soon. The cuisine served to him allows him to taste food of different Indian states. At that very moment he realizes India’s diversity. Entering the Hotel he is welcomed by employees in colorful native, costumes and with the well planned program of travel agents; he is provided with a competent guide-cultural ambassador who takes him to different places. The guide answers his inquisitive questions. The tourist wants a welcome smile from people whom he meets in the city and wants to adjust himself to new places and surroundings. He takes interest in different things and enjoys them. Touring India is cheaper as compared to other countries and ours is a most beautiful countries. Our peoples, monuments, tradition, customs and cultural heritage leave a lasting impression on him and he returns to his land happy. Indian culture attracts him and binds him in some context. His impression of India is transmitted to his friends and relatives also. And thus one tourist is instrumental in sending many more to India.
But the coin has two sides. On the one hand tourism people are reaping benefit from their profession but on the other some unscrupulous people (out of selfishness, greed, want of patriotism and ignorance) are tarnishing the profession which also adversely affects the effort to bring the world together. Have we ever thought how much harm we inflict on the nation because of selfishness? We should spend sometime to think this over on World Tourism Day. Let us think about and remember our mistake known and unknown.
Occasionaly airlines fail to take tourists to their destination despite confirmed tickets. Sometimes they have to wait for hours for the airplanes. They also have to bear unpleasant behavior of hotel staff. Is it fair to send incompetent, lazy, careless guides to conduct a package tours, whether government or private. Charging $5 for a short distance drive on rickshaw is not proper. Exploiting foreign tourists for photographs at burning Ghat tarnishes country’s image. Callousness of cleaning staff undoes government slogan of “Keep India Clean” or “Keep Kashi Clean.”
Attracted by tourism literature the foreign tourist comes to Varanasi to see its lanes which he finds dirty and stinking. The situation worsens when the bandaged lepers stop him to beg. When he stops at a shop to see goods he is surrounded by potty peddler and beggar children. Enjoying boat ride, looking at stately ghats he is perturbed by the stink of a dead body floating in the river. When a tourist hires a boat, the boat men charge exorbitantly. Sometimes an untrained guide shows some other temple and calls it Vishwanath.When a tourist wants to photograph the golden temple (Vishvanath temple )he is disappointed. At times the licensed guide becomes victim of police insolence because the general feeling is that every foreign tourist is rich and so is the guide. On this day we can not deny the relevance of the World Tourism Organization’s slogan “The free movement of tourist creates one world.” But how to spread this feeling among people is the question of the hour.