Domestic Tourism May Well Be Blessed By ‘Mangal’ And ‘Brihaspati’ This Year

by Sanjeev Nayyar - Jan 20, 2017 05:17 PM +05:30 IST
Domestic Tourism May Well Be Blessed By ‘Mangal’ And ‘Brihaspati’ This Year Dandiya Gair dance at Jaisalmer Desert Festival, 2013 (Sanjeev Nayyar)
Snapshot
  • Given this year’s holiday calendar, there’s an opportunity for Indians to take short holidays through the year and rejuvenate themselves.

    Not only will this benefit people themselves, it will help promote national integration and enhance appreciation of India’s culture and heritage.

At a pre-budget meeting which Prime Minister Narendra Modi held with economists at the end of December, job creation was one of the talking points. Some experts suggested that there was a need for investment in the tourism sector with its high employment potential.

A review of festival dates for 2017 shows that a large number of holidays fall between Thursday and Tuesday. This provides an opportunity for Indians to take short holidays and rejuvenate themselves this year.

Here’s how.

The table below details the month, name of the festival and date and day of the week on which it falls. The next column indicates the duration and dates of the holiday, and the last column provides the date on which you can take a leave.

Note: There would be regional variations to festival names and dates.
Note: There would be regional variations to festival names and dates.

From the table, it’s clear that you can take nine holidays of three days’ duration, two holidays of six and three holidays of four. For as many as 49 days of holidaying, you will need to take just six days’ leave.

Amar Mahal Jammu (Sanjeev Nayyar)
Amar Mahal Jammu (Sanjeev Nayyar)

The pertinent question therefore is, how can one use these long weekends to motivate Indians to travel?

In Mann Ki Baat, the prime minister’s address to the nation on All India Radio, Modi must speak about these weekend holidays, the beauty and diversity of India and how travel can help people connect with their country better. This message needs to be reinforced every quarter.

It can be argued that the holiday calendar applies to those employed in the formal sector. The larger point, however, remains; when you travel, you better understand and relate to fellow Indians. When one visits India's monuments, hill stations, beaches and handicrafts, it enhances national pride.

The Union government must start an advertising campaign across regional and English media. It should promote tourist destinations within and outside the state. Airlines could put special fares in place during these holidays. Travel companies could come out with package tours customised to every pocket. Indian Railways could run special train tours. State governments and travel associations could work on the ground to improve infrastructure, increase the number of home-stays, have helpline counters and ensure tourist safety. Employers could also encourage employees to head off on vacations during these periods.

In short, it must be an integrated effort by the central and state governments and the tourism industry to provide a fillip to tourism.

Promoting domestic tourism needs to become a national movement.

Maratha Palace, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu (Sanjeev Nayyar)
Maratha Palace, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu (Sanjeev Nayyar)

The government must refrain from giving tax doles and subsidies. The quality of tourist infrastructure will improve when the number of visiting tourists increase. Let the market forces operate.

Tourism sector is employment-intensive, and has the ability to enhance the incomes of every strata of society. Since this writer has travelled to every state except Jharkhand, he can vouch for India's potential and economic spin-offs from tourism. Hotels, transport, restaurants, handicrafts, textiles are just some of the beneficiaries.

Loktak Lake, Moirang, Manipur (Sanjeev Nayyar)
Loktak Lake, Moirang, Manipur (Sanjeev Nayyar)

If this writer were based in Mumbai, here is where he would go during the holiday weekends.

1) 26-29 January: Jodhpur (forts), Nagaur Fort (paintings), Karni Mata Mandir (where rats are worshipped) and Bikaner (Junagarh Palace)

2) 24-26 February: Jyotirlings of Ujjain and Omkareshwar and Ahilyabai Fort at Maheshwar (Beautiful saris and salwar are sold there.)

3) 11-13 March: Lathmar Holi at Barsana village and Nandgaon near Mathura

4) 25-28 March: Hampi in Karnataka

5) 1-4 April: Fly to Guwahati, see Kamakhya Temple and the rhinos of Kaziranga

6) 14-16 April: Dwarka, Somnath and Palitana temples in Saurashtra, Gujarat

7) 29-1 April: The cool climes of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani

8) 24-26 June: Trek to Shivaji's forts

9) 12-17 August: Binsar, Almora and Raniket in Uttarakhand; fly to Imphal or take two more days off and a direct flight to Leh to be bowled over by the incredible Ladakh

10) 25-27 August: Enjoy Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai or visit Udaipur and nearby

11) 30 September - 2 October: Ajanta and Ellora caves near Aurangabad

12) 17-22 October: Temples of Madurai and nearby for three days, or the backwaters of Kerala

13) 1-3 December: Bhubhaneswar, Puri and heritage village Raghurajpur, known for its Pattachitra paintings

14) 23-25 December: The beaches of Goa and Gokarna in Karnataka

Dandiya Gair dance at Jaisalmer Desert Festival, 2013 (Sanjeev Nayyar)
Dandiya Gair dance at Jaisalmer Desert Festival, 2013 (Sanjeev Nayyar)

In addition, certain festivals worth visiting are Jaisalmer Desert and Khajuraho Dance in February, Bohang Bihu Assam in April, Thrissurpooram Kerala in May, Hemis in July, Ladakh, Onam in Kerala, Janmashtami in Vrindavan, Durga Pooja Kolkata in September, Pushkar Fair and Dev Deepavali Benaras in November, Sangai Manipur in November, Hornbill in Nagaland and Kaal Chakra Bodhgaya in December.

If planned in advance, the cost of air travel could be equivalent to, if not slightly higher than, the rail fare. Most places offer rooms that cater to every price point. It is not true that only the rich can afford to travel. As more and more Indians travel within the country, the multiplier effect of their spending would increase employment, prosperity and economic growth wherever they go.

Every Indian has a stake in India's prosperity. After travelling to tourist destinations, Indians will be able to market them to fellow Indians and foreigners across the world, thus contributing to the well-being of other parts of India. Travel could make every Indian a marketer of country’s heritage and promote national integration to an extent that no regulatory authority can order.

The writer is an independent columnist, travel photojournalist and chartered accountant, and founder of eSamskriti. He tweets at @sanjeev1927.

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