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Tourism Endowments In Northeast India With Reference To Tourists’ Viewpoint – Analysis

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Tourism, as an industry is showing a continuous growth during the last decades. As an industry, it is a modern concept, but tourism plays today an extremely important role in the economic and social development of many countries in the world. It is a huge generator of employment and its services range from travel, accommodation, entertainment, catering, sports and adventure to the maintenance of culture and traditions, and the preservation of eco-systems. 

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Tourism is currently one of the largest industries of the world. It has been accorded the status of an industry in different countries through specific legislations. In India, it was in the year 1988 itself, tourism was declared as an industry. Tourism industry is composed of a group of firms that are engaged in the business of selling to or serving tourists. Hotels, restaurants transportation and amusements are examples of the types of firms that collectively constitute the tourism industry. Thus products offered by tourism industry come from different sub-sectors. Within the industry, there are also the different players or segments of tourism industry. Scholarly studies have identified five main sectors or components of tourism industry.

It is obvious that the industry comprises the products or outputs not of one but of at least five distinct industry groups. Each of these sectors or constituents of tourism industry has its distinct strategy of operation.

Development of tourism in a destination depends on many factors. Actually, it is the endowment present in a particular destination which act as motivators to attract prospective tourists in such a destination. Scholarly efforts are made by researchers to identify the motivating factors augmenting tourists flow to a particular place, region or destination. Middleton has classified these inner motivates of tourists in six different categories; and these are :

1. Business/work related motives

  • Pursuit of private and public sector business.
  •  Travel away from home for work related purposes.

2. Physical/ Physiological motives

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  • Participation in indoor sports and active outdoor recreations such as, golfing, walking, sailing, skiing. Undertaking activities in pursuit of health, fitness, recuperation. Resting/ relaxing/unwinding from stress of everyday life. Finding warmth/sunshine/relaxation on a beach.

3. Culture/psychological/personal education motive

  • Participation in festivals, theatre, music, museums as spectators, players or volunteers. Participation in personal interests, including intellectual, craft and other leisure -time pursuit. Visiting destinations for the sake of their cultural and natural heritage.

4. Social/interpersonal and ethnic motives

  • Enjoying the company of friends and relatives. Undertaking social duty occasions- from wedding to funerals. Accompanying others travelling for other reason, such as business or social duty.

5. Entertainment/amusement/pleasure/pastime motives.

  • Watching sports/ other spectacular events.
  • Visiting theme parks/ amusement parks.
  • Undertaking leisure shopping.

6. Religious motives

  • Participation in pilgrimages
  • Undertaking retreats for meditation and study.

These motivations in the minds of the people reflect the different types of needs and people undertake tour or travel mainly out of their urge to fulfill these needs. A tourist may go to his choicest place to satisfy his particular need.

A tourist spot is developed when a significant number of tourists visit the place. In other words, a particular place can be a tourist spot, if it has any such need- satisfying endowments corresponding to the motivational factor of tourism. As the motivational factors are different, that is, as some pleasure motivated for pleasure, some for health and some others for business or other activities, it is natural that a particular place may be a destination for a particular type or types of tourists, but not necessarily for all.

Some Scholars have made a distinction between recreational tourists and motivated tourists. 

A recreational tourist is one who goes on tour either for wander lusting or to get rid of his normal routine. For him, any new place outside his normal or permanent home will be an attractive one. For a motivated tourist, who is a tourist for some motive in mind his need will be over only on satisfaction of this particular need. He will consider a place worth visiting from that perspective only.

It may be noted that the above categorization of tourists is not watertight. For instance, there may be an overlap between the wanderlust type of tourism and a cultural tourism which not only takes the nature of pilgrimage but also includes cathedrals, temples in its tour itinerary. Similarly, games and sports are also forms of recreation for many, though they are professions for others.

Another approach to draw up an inventory of the various attractions which are of significance in tourism. The five categories of attractions listed by this approach are as follows:

1. Culture : Sites and areas of archaeological interest, historical buildings and monuments, places of historical importance, museums and modern culture, political and educational institutions and religious institutions.

2. Traditions :National festival, arts and handicrafts ; music, folklore, native life and customs.

3. Scenic : National parks, wild life, flora and fauna, beach resorts, mountain resorts.

4. Entertainment : Participation in and viewing of sports, amusements and recreation parks, zoos and aquariums, cinemas and theatres, night life, casino.

5. Other attractions : Climate, health resort.

In another study,8 it is argued that the attraction of a tourism area, to a large extent geographical in their character. It is mainly the landscape, the climate and location, and the convenience that can satisfy the tourists real and psychological needs. Other factors like tradition, culture and the attitude of the habitants to tourists are also considered important.

A list of geographical components may be mentioned here, the presence of which in a place is likely to make it a place of tourist attraction. The components are as follows :

1. Accessibility and location

2. Space

3. Scenery: 

  • a) Land forms, e.g. mountain, coral reefs, cliff, etc.
  • b) Water, e.g. river, lakes, dams, waterfalls, geysers glaciers, sea
  • c) Vegetation, e.g. forests, grasslands, pastures, desert etc.

4. Climates: Sunshine, clouds, temperature conditions, rain and snow etc.

5. Animal Life: a) Wildlife, e.g. birds, game reserves, zoos.

  • b) Hunting & fishing.

6. Settlement Pattern 

  • a) Tourist cities and villages

b) Historical remains and monuments

  • c) Archaeological remains.

7. Culture: Ways of life, traditions, folklore, arts and crafts.

Some scholars have given a list of the ingredients9 which contribute towards creation of new destination for tourists. These factors are mentioned below:

Natural Factor 

1. Climate Sunshine, temperature, and winds etc.

2. Natural beauty General topography, flora and fauna proximity to lakes, rivers and sea water etc.

2. Festivals Music, Dance and sports

3. Distinctive Unorganized folk dancers, local casino etc.

4. Fairs & exhibitions Fairs etc.

5. Attitude towards Local congeniality tourists

Historical Factors 

  • Ancient ruins

Religious Significance

Historical Significance

Recreational Factors

  • 1. Sports Hunting, fishing, boating and swimming.
  • 2. Educational Archaeological and ethnographic Museum
  • 3. Health and rest
  • 4. Night time Discotheques, theatres and cinema etc. recreation
  • 5. Shopping

These authors also made an attempt to rank these factors in order of priority.  Their ranking are as follows:

Rank Factors

1. Natural beauty

2. Infrastructure

3. Food and Lodging

4. Climate

5. Historical prominence

6. Ancient ruins

7. Attitude towards tourist

8. Religious significance

9. Artistic and architectural factors

10. Sports facilities

11. Night time recreation

12. Shopping facilities

13. Resting and tranquility

14. Folk festivals

15. Distinctive local features

16. Educational facilities

17. Fairs and exhibitions

To sum up, based on the studies undertaken so far by scholars, it is possible to identify the principal travel motivations which are as follows:

1. Tourism for pleasure and recreation.

2. Business travel.

3. Tourism for game, sports, an adventure.

4. Holidaying .

5. Pilgrimage.

6. Nature tourism.

7. Eco – tourism and tourism for culture.

To assess the potentiality of a given tourist destination, one needs to see to what extent the location is endowed with features or properties that would fulfill one or more of the given travel motivations. However, presence of the endowments per se rarely would attract the actual travelers. Two localities or regions with same type of tourism endowments may not experience the same kind of tourist traffic. While tourism endowments are the first or basic ingredients of tourist attractions, but there are at least two other factors  which play a decisive role in promoting a place into the tourism map. These two factors are – hospitality and accessibility of the place in question. Hospitality stands for the offered range of facilities and services provided to a tourist visiting a particular place. These facilities that are relevant are the following :

  • a) Hotels , inns , restaurants etc.
  • b) Tourist infrastructure like road network and the transportation system.
  • c) Travel agency , tour operators,
  • d) Public utilities
  • e) Shopping facilities
  • f) Medical facilities
  • g) Communication network.
  • h) Entertainment and sports facilities and the like.

The other most important factor, viz accessibility stands for time and cost involved to reach the destination by tourist from his place of origin. Economic factors like the freight rates of the different modes of transport to cover the distance and the exchange rate between national currencies will determine the cost of travel. In this connection , the time needed to complete the journey , the cost of inconvenience in terms of delay or waiting time are generally considered by the tourists. As far as tourism is concerned its promotion involves systematic and coordinated efforts executed by the National Tourist Organizations and or the tourist enterprises at the national or local levels to optimize the satisfaction of tourists – groups and individuals– in a way that ultimately would lead to sustained tourism growth in the locality, area or

region under its jurisdiction. Although, promotional principles are the same for all products, there are certain peculiarities in tourism, e.g. 

i) The ‘product’ in tourism industry is a combination of products and services. No single entrepreneur can produce all these products and services and high degree of interdependence and linkages among the different segment of the tourism industry is considered an essentiality for optimizing tourists satisfaction.

ii) The tourism product can not be transported-a customer has to reach to make use of it.

iii) The demands are created at one place (i.e. of origin of the tourists) and the supply is offered at tourist destination.

iv) The tourism products (e.g. a hotel room – hour ) can not be stored for sale at a later date. These are to be used immediately or they go waste. This means an equilibrium between the demand for and supply of tourism products has to be achieved at both the aggregate and organizational levels through proper planning of facilities and marketing efforts.

v) Tourism is a very sensitive industry. Situations like, disturbance in the law and order situations, economic instability or natural calamity would immediately hurt the tourism sector making the demand dwindle. Because of the peculiar characteristics of tourism, the supply of tourism industries product are different from others. There are six very important structural aspects of supply which strongly influence the attitudes and decisions of management in all sectors of the travel and tourism industry as they seek to respond to and influence perspective customers.

These six aspects are :

1. Inseparability.

2. Perishability

3. Interdependence.

4. Seasonality.

5. High and fixed costs .

6. Fixed in time and place.

The larger an organization is, the more vulnerable it is likely to be any fluctuation in demand, and hence the more emphasis it is likely put on ways to influence its customers i.e. on marketing. There are three distinguishable but inter related factors which are to be marketed in tourism marketing. These are:

a. The inherent attraction of a place,

b. The hospitality and the range and quality of facilities and services provided, and

c. The accessibility to the place in question.

The first factor viz., the inherent attraction of a place are the motivational factors-which are location specific. These attractions need to be communicated to the prospective tourists. The second factor viz. hospitality stand for the offered range of facilities and services provided to a tourist while he is visiting a particular place . The third factor viz. accessibility stands for the time and cost undertaken by a tourist in reaching the tourist destination from his place of origin. In fact, the distinctiveness of tourism promotion stems from the fact that market demand (for particular tourist spots or locations) is generated in the places in which the visitors normally live (areas of origin). Whereas, product supply takes place only in the areas of destination. Given the geographical distance between the place where demand is generated and the place where products are actually supplied, it is tourism marketing that serves as systematic link between demand and supply and hence plays the most crucial role in the ultimate selling of tourist places and product to the customers. Considering the tourist motivating factors being contributory to the development of tourism in a particular place, it can be said that it is the successful tourism planning, tourism marketing and promotion which can make a positive co-relation between tourist endowments and tourists flow in a particular place.

Conclusion

Northeastern region of India with its eight states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Sikkim taken together is endowed with enough potential to permit the growth of a vibrant tourism industry. The natural beauty of the region is unparallel. The exiting forests, ethnic traditions, culture, heritage, life style and faith, taken together can be considered the hardware of tourism endowments. It may be accepted that the state governments of the respective states are aware of the fact and, hence the states are having their respective State Level Tourism promotion Organizations (SLTPOs). Yet the fact remains that, Northeastern region is still unable to account for even one percent of the national tourism business. The SLTPOs of the concerned States are engaged mainly in identifying tourist spots within the States and to arrange for tourists accommodations at the spots. Such identification does not show any well thought out principles; and attitude towards this so far remained bureaucratic and lackadaisical. The thrust given on natural beauty, wildlife and culture. It is already mentioned in the first part of our discussion that natural beauty, wildlife, flora and fauna can act as strong motivating factors to attract tourists. In spite of this, the general scenery of tourists inflow in northeastern region is apathetical. The reason for this may be considered as the indifferent approach of the concerned states to develop tourism. It is high time that the eight states of the Region should come together to identify tourism circuits, so that a tourist from outside need not target a particular state or spot but should come to travel a tourism circuit covering more than one of the Northeastern states at a time.

A tourism circuit is a route on which at least three major tourist destinations are located. Though it is comparatively a new idea; and is yet to be actualized by the SLTPOs of the Northeast region. Such a circuit should have well defined entry points, so that, a tourist who enters at the entry point should get motivated to visit all the places identified on the circuit. Keeping in mind the tourism endowment and geographical location, the following circuits may be identified.

1. Guwahati —- Kaziranga —- Shillong

2. Guwahati —- Silchar ——- Agartala

3. Guwahati —- Imphal ——- Silchar —- Agartala

4. Guwahati —- Kaziranga —- Itanagar

5. Guwahati —- Tezpur ——– Tawang

Considering the existing infrastructure and communication net work, Guwahati may be considered as the entry point and tourism circuits may be identified. Joint effort by two or three states may be initiated to promote such circuits. In the same way international tourism circuits may be identified by bipartite and tripartite negotiations with neighboring countries viz., Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Our discussion can be concluded with the following observations:

1) Northeast India contains enough potential to develop tourism, but the endowments are grossly untapped by the tourism development agencies.

2) The existing practice of tourism promotion shows absence of well thought our strategies.

3) The isolated and indifferent attitudes of the Northeastern states may be considered responsible towards the failure to promote the Region as a tourist destination.

4) It is high time to make proper identification of tourism circuits in the Region by involving two or more states together.

5) International tourism circuits can be identified and developed by working together with some neighboring countries. Geographical location of the Region can be considered as an advantage in this regard.

*About the author: Dr Samit Chowdhury, Associate Professor, Department of Commerce, Assam Don Bosco University, Guwahati, Assam

References :

1. N. Edington and V.Smith (1994): “Tourism Alternatives, Potentials and Problems” in Development of Tourism, John Willy & Sons, New York, p. 4.

2. M.P. Bezbaruah (1999): Indian TourismBeyond the Millennium Gyan Publishers. New Delhi, p. 21.

A Study of the Tourism Endowments in Northeast India. 

3.World Travel and Tourism Council (1992): Travel and Tourism The Worlds Largest Industry,WTTC, Brussels.

4. Victor T.C. Middleton (1995) : Marketing in Travel and Tourism, Butterworth and Heinemann,London p9

5. Ibid p52

6. Kunal Chattopadhyay (1995) : Economic Impact of Tourism Development – An Indian Experience,

Kanishka Publishers, New Delhi p-15.

7. Peter Michael (1969) : International Tourism – The Economics and Development of the International

Tourist Trade Hutchinson, London p148-149

8. A.K.Bhatia (1995) : International Tourism – Fundamental Principles and Practices, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi p.15

9. Wilson W. Smart ; Charles E Gearing and Turgut Var (1973) : “Determining the Optimum Investment Policy for Tourism Sector of a Development Country”, Management Science, Vol – 20(4), Dec p35

10. Javed Akhtar (19993) : Tourism management in India, Ashish Publishing House New Delhi, p 37

11. A.K. Sarkar (1998) : Action Plan and Priorities in Tourism Development, Kanishka Publishers, New Delhi, p3.

12. Ratnadeep Singh (2000) : Tourism Marketing Principles, Policies and Strategies, Kanishka Publishers New Delhi p 116

13. Middleton and Midlik (1973) : “Tourist Product and its Marketing Implications” in Management of Tourism, (eds). A.J. Barkart and S. Medlik, Heinemann & Willium, London p. 35.

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