For Planet Tourism Day, I am writing an open letter to the tourism market in India primarily based on my encounter more than the final 13 years as a traveller, travel journalist, blogger, advertising specialist, and most not too long ago, tour designer / promoter. I have spent extra than 4 years living and functioning in India, more than the previous 13, and I have attended several travel shows and conferences, and worked with several providers, brands, and destinations.
Travelling in India has been a single of the greatest experiences of my life. At a time when I necessary to locate inspiration and adventure, I spent six months travelling the length and breadth of India. It was a really life-altering encounter, and I had several “Incredible India” moments – lengthy ahead of I was conscious of the marketing campaign.
I guess in several techniques, I am a walking cliché. A middle-aged North American lady whose life was changed by travel to India. But clichés are clichés for a explanation. India IS a transformative travel location. It is not merely a collection of tourism attractions and geographical options. Yes, there are lots of historical web-sites, attractive beaches, snow-capped mountains, and so forth. But India is significantly, significantly extra. It is extra than the sum of its components. That is what so wonderful about it, and so tricky to capture in a advertising campaign or itinerary or travel story.
It has been famously stated that you do not take a look at India, you encounter it. I have discovered this to be accurate. When I began travelling in India in 2005, I also began travel writing and blogging. As such, I was a single of the really very first travel bloggers in India. Considering that then, I have poured out a river of words attempting to capture the encounter, the feeling, the magic of India, and the life-altering impact it had on me.
I’ve spent extra than 4 years in India in total, and have visited about 18 or 19 states, and most of the important tourist attractions. I have written about India for some of the world’s major travel publications – like right here and right here and right here. My weblog has had nicely more than 3 million web page views and I’ve published a numerous quantity of social media posts. I’ve won quite a few awards and have been invited on several trips. Maybe most importantly, my words have inspired several men and women to take the leap and take a look at India.
But nonetheless, I really feel I have barely scratched the surface. India is ancient, vast, diverse, and fascinating. The culture although heavily influenced by several sources, is connected by an unbroken chain to the distant previous. It would take lifetimes to see and do almost everything on the Indian subcontinent. Writers from Mark Twain to Pico Iyer have been attempting to do it justice. Frankly, it is audacious of me to even attempt.
Tourist versus traveller
When I began travelling in India, it was as a seeker. I was attempting to recover from grief and depression, reside my dreams, connect to my spiritual self, and locate inspiration. I did not see myself as a tourist, specifically – I imply, in the sense that I was not travelling to ONLY take a look at tourist web-sites and attractions. I was generally, from the commence, interested in genuine cultural experiences and total cultural immersion. I lived for years with my boyfriend’s Punjabi family members in Delhi, spent several months in a Yoga ashram, and attempted to soak up as significantly culture as probable.
I’ve written a lot about my early years in India, and how personally transformative they have been.
As I kept coming back to India and shifting my profession to travel writer and blogger, I entered the travel and tourism profession. It was by accident genuinely, as I do not essentially like becoming a tourist. There’s an ongoing debate about what the distinction – if any – there is involving a traveller and a tourist, and I do not want to add to it. Except to say, that when I found India, I just wanted to remain and genuinely get to know it. (And not too long ago I took the ultimate step, and essentially moved to India.)
I suppose no matter whether I contact myself a seeker, traveller, tourist, or expat does not genuinely matter. What matters is that I have mixed feelings about each becoming a tourist and becoming in the tourism market. Nonetheless, on Planet Tourism Day, right here are my thoughts on tourism in India.
Thoughts on Planet Tourism Day
How do you package encounter?
The sheer magnitude and magnificence of India can not be contained in a “Golden Triangle” itinerary or a pithy slogan – although “Incredible India” is almost certainly about as close as you can get. Packaging, advertising, and promoting what is genuinely on present in India – the encounter of becoming in India – is not effortless.
From my encounter, there is almost certainly no superior way to capture the magic of travel in India (and the madness) than by way of storytelling. India is, immediately after all, a land of stories. The Mahabharata and Ramayana epics inform the culture, and each spot, each tree, each mountain appears to have a story attached to it.
Unleashing storytellers who use words, photos, photographs, and videos to uncover the stories of India, and their personal private stories as they uncover themselves in India, appears to me to be the absolute greatest advertising tool readily available. As nicely as igniting interest and capturing hearts, if the storytelling is on-line, it has the added bonus of becoming searchable and shareable.
Note: There are a lot of really talented and prolific storytellers in India, and going to India on a typical basis. Way also several to mention right here … but I am preparing to do a roundup post of my favourites.
Generating accountable tourism a priority
More than-tourism, plastic pollution, animal cruelty, and other challenges plague tourism about the planet. Sooner or later we will all HAVE TO deal with these challenges, so the extra proactive we can be, the superior.
India is a all-natural for building and advertising accountable travel and sustainable tourism choices. A subcontinent, the nation consists of virtually each geographical formation on earth from palm-fringed beaches, to snow-capped mountains, to higher-plateau deserts, to lush jungles. From a single finish of the nation to the other, there are tiny operators, and even a handful of massive providers, supplying accommodations, safaris, tours, and experiences that adhere to Accountable Tourism (RT) principles – no matter whether knowingly or simply because it is the correct factor to do or the way it has generally been accomplished.
I applaud the several who are currently embracing sustainability, saying no to elephant rides, and showcasing off-beats components of India. You can see several of their names on the nominees list of the Outlook Accountable Tourism Awards this year and each year.
And I encourage absolutely everyone who visits India to locate out about the RT operators and patronize them. You can join the India Travel Suggestions for Accountable Travellers Facebook group right here to locate out extra, and ask concerns. You will be rewarded with adventures that really feel great and do great.
All that glitters in not necessarily the Golden Triangle!
There is no finish of remarkable areas to take a look at in India. The lost city of Hampi, the remarkable Ellora and Ajanta caves, the lush jungles of Madhya Pradesh, charming hill stations, the temple of Khajuraho, Karnataka’s beaches, Uttarakhand’s mountain villages, the forests of Himachal Pradesh, Mumbai’s art deco buildings … I could go on and on and on … all of these equal or surpass the treasures of the so-known as Golden Triangle.
Yes, the Taj Mahal is magnificent, yes, Delhi is a fascinating, historical city, and yes, Jaipur has a lot to present guests. But the Golden Triangle is a advertising idea that has been flogged for several years with the unfortunate outcome that guests assume they Have to take a look at this area on their very first trip – and miss several equally wonderful areas in India.
In my view: There is definitely no will need to take a look at the Golden Triangle. Support assistance accountable tourism and discover the off-beat treasures.
Inspiration plus reassurance
Men and women who take a look at India will need each inspiration and reassurance. It is a special location that demands a special advertising resolution.
Lately, I was interviewed for Financial Instances – Brand Equity newspaper about the new Unbelievable India videos. I stated that, “Incredible India Tourism does a wonderful job of generating inspiring ad campaigns that capture the magic of India. No one does it superior. Nevertheless, I assume inspiring men and women to take a look at India is half the battle. Men and women will need each inspiration and reassurance — simply because of the unfavorable consideration India gets in the international media. That is exactly where bloggers and on-line storytellers, photographers, and vloggers can assistance. We are actual men and women who inform private stories that SHOW us travelling in India. We are also readily available on social media for men and women who have concerns or issues. When men and women see me on tiger safari, or at the Taj Mahal, or hiking in the hills, they subconsciously assume, “If she can do it, I can do it!” They do not assume this way about models, actors, or celebrities simply because they are non-relatable. This is what is missing.”
I can not assume of any superior way to marketplace India than by way of the private stories of actual men and women travelling in India– men and women who are travellers and storytellers, and who can be part models and guides.
Altering the perception of India
I can inform you from vast private encounter, that anytime India comes up in women’s travel forums and groups on-line, the query of security dominates the conversation. Females who have under no circumstances been to India are convinced it is the most risky spot on earth. A lively dialogue generally ensues involving girls who have travelled in India and say, for the most portion, that it is nowhere close to as risky as it is created out to be, and these who have under no circumstances been but are deeply influenced by media-developed perceptions.
When girls who have been harassed in India speak out, the dialogue then becomes about no matter whether India is tougher on girls travellers than other destinations. A lot of girls chime in to recount equally chilling stories in just about each location you can name.
Even though I have under no circumstances noticed any statistics that prove India is extra risky for girls travellers, this perception remains. It is now deeply embedded in the worldwide psyche, generating what journalists contact a “one story narrative.” Please see this TedTalk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about The danger of a single story.
Soon after years of providing interviews and responding to queries, I’ve had a lot of practice attempting to answer the query, “Is India protected for girls travellers?”
My response is primarily based each on my personal really substantial solo travel encounter, investigation into statistics, and listening to other girls. I attempt and present a affordable, realistic response that mirrors my encounter and also presents some guidance and tips. I assume security is extra about HOW you travel, than Exactly where you travel: I am a major believer in practising what I contact “safe travel tactics.”
I assume girls like myself who have substantial encounter travelling in India can present the most affordable and realistic image of what travel right here is like. We can reduce by way of the sensationalism and present sensible suggestions, tips, and guidance. We are a resource that can assistance close the chasm involving perception and reality. So, to the India Tourism market I say: I would welcome the chance to assistance disseminate intelligent travel tactics, tailored for India, that each assistance assuage fears and present a extra realistic image of travel in India.
I generally advise caution in India, and have published various posts of tips for travelling right here. Obtaining to know the culture, and practising what I contact protected travel tactics are each exceptionally essential.
India is not for absolutely everyone
India is not for absolutely everyone, and it really should not be marketed like other destinations. But for particular travellers, these interested In luxury, adventure, wildlife, culture, spirituality, or private transformation … these with open minds and open hearts … these who are prepared to see that “what is crucial is invisible to the eye” … there is nowhere like India.
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