Tourism : A Driving Force For Poverty Alleviation, Job Creation And Social Harmony

As in past years, today on 27th September we celebrate World Tourism Day. The World Tourism Organization, based in the Spanish Capital of Madrid, every year gives us a slogan, a subject to inspire us to move forward giving us an opportunity to understand the importance of tourism. It would be no exaggeration to say that tourism is the key that can open every door of development to the developing nations. The depressing shadow of poverty is looming large over four thousand millions of the world, out of which half of them, survive on less than a dollar per day. Undoubtedly removal of poverty is the greatest challenge before the world in this millennium. The world community considers tourism as a factor to remove poverty, create employment and bring about social harmony.

The developing nation like India has nurtured the dream of becoming a developed nation by the year 2020 wher every citizen rises above the poverty line and there basic need of food, clothing and house for all. There are prosperous developed nations like the U.S.A. and Japan on one hand and on the other hand you have India, Pakistan, Nepal etc. fighting against poverty.  The W.T.O.’s thinking about tourism is laudable. The role of tourism is so vast that it is difficult to express in words. It is present at every step of human development. The word tourism implies a great objective, utility and wide meaning. The merit of this smoke free industry is yet to be understood. This profession has huge employment potential provided we understand it properly. Our ancient land has many diversities. We have attraction for every kind of tourist. There are Buddhist pilgrims places, then there are sacred cities like Varanasi and Prayag (Allahabad) for the Hindus.

There are fertile Gangetic plains and lofty snowy peaks of the Himalayas; the unique Taj Mahal, stately palaces of Rajasthan; the Arabian Sea, the Indian ocean, rich sea beaches around Bay of Bengal, the remains of ancient civilization like Dhaulavir, Lothal and Kalibanga; the mixed life style of Goa etc; and the unique Indian concept of atithi devo bhava, the guest is god. What don’t we have? The world is eager to know, hear, and see the world leader India. Someone has rightly put it “discover India discover your self”.

If it benefits the skilled tourism professional, it also profits the laundry man and rickshaw puller. Tourism provides knowledge, understanding and culture on one hand and on the other provides employment to the educated unemployed. Have a look at various people benefited – airhostess, pilot, taxi driver,  porter, travel agent, tourist guide, hotel manager, receptionist, cook, bus driver, conductor,  salesman, craftsmen and seller, rickshaw puller, boatman, flower  seller etc.

In recent years the industry has attracted the youth and so has increased our attempt to attract tourists. But during the last two years the industry could not reap expected profit because of political instability, natural calamity, international conflict, and new infectious disease. This has given a severe blow to the tourism to remove poverty. Poverty is actually one of the cause of public discontent. Tourism through prosperity can eliminate this discontent and create a harmonious society.

When the  tourist visits another country and culture he is  affected by many things there. The feeling of world family is germinated in him. He cultivates the feeling of love and regard for another nation and its culture. He has the feeling of belonging. Lack of communication ends and comes the initiative to understand each other. Thus begins mutual interaction and fraternity.

Lack of education, ignorance, unemployment and population explosion give birth to religious fanaticism, factionalism and terrorism. The world grappling with starvation, poverty and unemployment is forced to fight against terrorism. Human bomb and suicide squads have made peace loving nations hapless. Under the circumstances if anything can bridge the gulf between the hearts of human beings, it is tourism. Reaching others, understanding them, making friends will creat a world state and every individual become its member; share each other’s sorrow and suffering. Tourism will bring people closer together.

Constitutional governments are failing to provide job, employment opportunities are shrinking and unemployment in causing hunger and discontent. Therefore we have to look for globally effective and meaningful alternatives. Our experience tells us that tourism is the solution. The W.T.O. has appropriately given the slogan to achieve this sacred objective. If we honestly translate the slogan into action, sure we would definitely contribute immensely to world welfare and attain laurels.