Tourism : A Tool For Peace & Dialogue Among Civilizations

Every year on 27th September we celebrate the world Tourism Day. This year we and the world are doing so. Every year the Madrid based World Tourism Organization gives a slogan to different countries as theme. This year it is tourism as a tool for peace and dialogue among civilization.

Let us think over this subject and urge all countries to initiate the march of the entire world on the noble path of world peace.

Man is just man, whether from Japan, Honolulu, Africa or the Indian sub-continent. Man every where has the same sensibility, emotions, flaws and qualities. He is a member of earth and, therefore, equally responsible for its betterment or fall.

Along with growth of civilization we shared our happiness and sorrows, inventions and accomplishments. Human instinct of curiosity and search unravelled the deep mysteries of the universe is benefiting everyone. But simultaneously came our fall in many respects. In rivalry of monopoly from countries came the destructive nuclear weapon. The terrible memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not forgotten. The blot on humanity cannot be removed easily. Whether conflict in Iran, Iraq, Philistine, India, Pakistan, Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha image – they all put us in dark. After all what do we want to achieve? Is there any end to mutual animosity and hate?The Attack on America by terrorists  in September 2001 and the killing of thousands of innocent people, suicide groups killing in Kashmir etc. are issues that remain unanswered . We have to find the answer.

And the answer is tourism. Discoveries by of Vasco De Gama and Columbus opened new gates of peace and dialogue. Surely tourism cuts down distance among peoples and make significant contribution to world peace. The bitterness between India and Pakistan can only be removed by free travel of peoples of the two countries. From time to time our leaders have taken initiative like the Lahore journey and Musharraf’s visit to India with his wife. The whole world looked keenly at the Agra summit whether as dialogue through tourism or vice-versa. The city of love Agra is chosen as venue. Whatever the outcome, indirectly the credit to this path of peace goes to tourism.

Tourism can be seen as a link of commercial and cultural exchange between two countries. When a tourist visits countries for study of the culture and sees monuments and remains he is influenced by the culture of the country. He goes back with objects purchased there and thus begins trade relationships. That naturally brings the peoples together. This closeness brings friendship and them comes dialogue between two nations. And this results in dialogue peace, and goodwill. Peace opens the gates of development and helps prosperity of nations.

Perhaps tourism is the only means today to bring amity to the warring countries of Central Asia; an opportunity to understand each other and bring peace.

Taken seriously tourism can play a vital role in bringing peace. Studies show that people want peace with neighbours and exchange of ideas. No nation wants to be confined to her boundaries. The broken remains of the Berlin wall grace drawing rooms of German people. Every German would be proud of unification of his country. They must be feeling contented pulling down the dividing wall and presenting an example before the world. They wouldn’t feel any hesitation in calling themselves superior.

Today man wants to see and know the world. He wants to find a place in people’s heart through the means of tourism. Today people of many countries have a special feeling and regard for India. This could only be possible through tourism. The unique India with her cuisine, colorful dress, monuments and palaces, hospitality, diversity etc.

Ancient civilizations of Egypt and China take the tourist to antiquity through pyramids and the Great wall. Bhutan and Tibet with ancient culture attract our mind.

Many buildings have been declared world heritage to be taken care of by the whole world so they remain intact for posterity. Tourism has increased peoples awareness for maintaining historical, cultural, and artistic heritage.

Undoubtedly tourism has emerged as a means of world peace and dialogue.
Let us carry the message of tourism to the masses. Be it national unity or vision of world state, tourism has a vital role to play. Some one has rightly said,

“What gained confined, found the world coming out.”

Technology & Nature: Two Challenges For Tourism At The Dawn Of The Twenty First Century

Every year on 27th September we celebrate World Tourism Day when we draw world attention to the importance of tourism and its role is social, economic and cultural sphere. At the dawn of the new century technology with its developments has opened new avenues for tourism. Information technology, transport facilities, worldwide internet reaches even villages; and mobile phone have ushered in a new era of the 21st century.

New technology has brought about revolutionary changes in tourism. Technology has entered every sphere of life, tourism has reaped its maximum benefit. Developments in the transportation sector would certainly make travel fast, secure, comfortable and easy. Science is both a boon and curse nectar or poison-depending on its use or misuse. The careless or irrresponsible use of technology can disturb the ecological balance and its impact upon Nature and Tourism could be devastating. Technology has given us many things but has made us unaware of future danger. Number of aware people caught up in the blind race for development have declined. Two challenges to increase tourism are: technology and nature.

Let us think over these challenges in the context by our country on World Tourism Day. This merits attention by the whole country, not simply those associated with tourism. Where will we stand in coming years? What will be our tourism policy? What will be the role of tourism in generating employment? The answer to these questions is in the womb of the future. But one thing is clear, this smoke-free industries with lesser investment in comparison to other industries generates more employment. Our country with its variety and vast area has everything to attract tourists, we need perception and will power. We have never estimated the economics of tourism. Giving direct and indirect employment to the millions, it strengthens the country economically by earning foreign exchange. We will have to think over how to keep pace in future tourism growth . Only the future will tell how far the youths are able to benefit by training themselves in new technology.

In present context none can deny that the man has to harmonize between technology and nature. It is inevitable and it cannot be attained by giving more importance to either. Both have equal importance. New technology makes life easier but natural imbalance is a threat to life. If innovation in medical science has freed man from many diseases it has also increased cancer like deadly diseases by damaging the ozone layer. Air pollution in big cities has made the masses victim of lung diseases. Harmony between development and ecology is essential.

How long will we exploit nature in the name of development? Material accomplishments have dazzled us, we are not aware of injustice meted out to nature. Now slowly the world is realizing the ecological imbalances caused by technology and tourism development. That is why we are mindful of maintaining the pristine form of ecology along with expansion of tourism maintaining and conserving the snowy Himalayas, wild-life, remains of ancient civilizations, the Taj, Ghats of Varanasi and many other places.

When the tourist visits a place this affects the ecology. . Tourism also creates love for natural scenes and wild-life which conserves them both.

It is not easy to keep our culture intact in today’s globalization. Cable TV has brought western culture to our rooms and we cannot stop its influence on the young. Foreign sexual behavior and clothes and life style brings about cultural pollution. Poisonous exhaust from automobiles pollutes the atmosphere. Pollution in rivers is a threat both to man and water creature.

The way out is to protect nature by new technology. Preference is to be given to the alternate sources of energy. Science has made everything possible. There are ways to stop every kind of pollution. The only thing needed is will to act. Both citizens and the government are responsible for nature’s imbalance. It is strange that a few months ago citizens of Varanasi would throw garbage in the bin because of a municipal officer but now would throw it anywhere.

Celebration of World Tourism Day, coverage in the press, drinking and meetings in five star hotels, flowery speeches, are not enough. Without genuine commitment to the nation, mother nature and the soil, every effort is meaningless. It is ridiculous to see people planning in air conditioned offices ignoring the people directly related to it. How long would paper horses run? They have to perish.

In the end, I appeal to all sensible citizens to understand the delicate relationship of technology, man and nature because they are interdependent and can not be separated. It is quite imperative that we harvest the benifits of modern technology and learn to give.

Tourism : Development and Environmental Protection Towards A lasting Harmony

Tourism and ecology go together. They are complimentary to each other. Tourism is a means of nation’s economic development. Tourism brings happiness and prosperity without injuring the ecology. The planned development of tourism conserves the ecology, natural and cultural heritage and is watchful towards cleanliness and health.

India has unlimited cultural and natural wealth for the curious tourists: the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas, roaring sea waves, sprawling forests, wild-life, Taj, Qutubminar, Red Fort, Khajuraho, Ajanta-Ellora and Varanasi the cultural capital. We have rare wealth for the tourist. But can we conserve them  in this race for development? Shall this good earth of ours, India, be able to maintain her charm and beauty? These questions make us dumb and raise a big question of identity, of unbroken culture, of handing over heritage to the future generations.

The ambitious materialist hammers about development and he chants this always. What kind of development? Development of luxury goods and machines or development of means to provide food to the increasing millions? He who climbs on the ladder of development knows not the last rung. We notice all that science has given us but we notice not what it has robbed us of. Iron jaws of machine have gobbled up the greenery and robbed the quietitude of the valleys. The shaman of development has hypnotized us with the herb of materialism. Our traditions, customs, festivals, and melas look obsolete. We are reduced to decorating our drawing room with synthetic flowers, electronic gadgets and cars determining our status. The soothing music of cataracts and cirping of birds is replaced by ear-splitting sound of powerful audio-systems in whose loud noise the mechanical man, sick of the fast life, finds refuge to relax.

Development has murdered our sensitivity. The culprit is science but judgment will go against man, for he alone is to blame for his destruction. Today man has insulted nature, who gave life to our ancestors. Worshipping Neem, Peepal, Tulsi is our expression of gratitude towards these boons of nature. We have seated the cow and  Ganga on the highest pedestal. We swear in their names most solemnly. But man crushing nature under his feet is denying the mutual harmony between nature, matter and science. Will she forgive us? We must ponder. Every creature on the earth is important. Nothing is without use. Nature maintains balance, which makes life possible. Unscrupulous exploitation is causing hot house effect. Erosion of earth and deforestation is raising sea level which may sink cities and affect adversely the monsoon season.

Nature has given us the protective shield of the atmosphere above which is the ozone layer. Poisonous gases, smoke carbon monoxide etc. are harming ozone. Damage to the ozone layer means exposure to ultraviolet rays that cause cancer and are a threat to life. We have to do something so that we are not cursed by the success of our progress. Let future generations enjoy the progress and thank us in this regard. Come to Varanasi our city, we have much to do and a long way to go. Movement of bureaucracy is notoriously slow unless each of us realize and share responsibility nothing will come. Our involvement should be selfless not egoistical and publicized so that we become responsible citizens.

Myriads of Indian and foreign tourists come to the Ganga. The believers bathe in her, take her holy water and even carry it home. What faith and reverence do they have ! The city filth despite filtering machine reaches her from many points. The tourist loves to move through the world famous lanes and alleys but dares not look below. Can we not clean some of these tourist frequented lanes? Providing a clean atmosphere and cleanliness is our moral responsibility. Every citizen of Varanasi should be made aware of this through seminars, film shows, plantations, cultural programs etc. So in this age of globalization we must not lose our identity but remain Banarasi pure and unadulterated.

The Free Movement Of Tourist Creates One World

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.