A New Tourism Initiative In

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by Professor N. Mohendro Singh,
Human movement from a corner to another corner of the globe either in search of food, pleasure, survival or new knowledge has been an inherent part of the evolution of society. In fact, the character of development gets a new tempo and momentum with exciting social connectivity. Visit, short or long provides an opportunity of meeting of minds, a chance of larger human interaction and a moment of change. A good idea has a powerful potential to change the life of a man, a community and even a nation. It is also a fact that no community can develop in isolation.

Movement has multiple objectives; — political, economic and social. The world has witnessed a number of organized movement with a strong political and economic objective to dominate, conquer and establish a new “home and authority”.
The 21st century has visibly witnessed a new phenomenon of movement of people after unprecedented revolution in science, technology, information, trade and transport; — more so after sweeping change that has been set in motion by historic events of globalization and liberalization. The idea of global village has reduced the barriers and subsequently stimulates movement of large number of people. In fact the outlook of people has considerably been broadened to accommodate any constructive behaviour and pattern, and people start adapting to the imperatives of larger interaction and innovative response as a part of ensuring a descent livelihood, To-day people appreciate the message of “Think Globally and Act Locally”.

“The distribution of opportunities is extremely unequal. This inequality is a key driver of human movement and thus implies that this movement has a huge potential for improving human development. Every year more than 5 million people cross borders to go and live in developed countries” (UNDP; Human Development Report, 2009, p-9). And with them flows of money, knowledge and ideas are generated in a new environment. As such, the movement has both intrinsic value and positive externalities. But this cannot be one-way traffic in the sense that the attractive environment which is largely the product of a good government should have enough networks to meet the fast changing demands of the visitors. Here comes the basic responsibility of the government. Confucious once said that “a good government obtains when those who are near are made happy, and those are far off are attracted to come”.

Tourism is a significant component of a larger human movement. The significance has been marked in view of its multiplier effects on many fronts such as:

ØBetter international understanding,
ØNational integration and broadened vision,
Ø Earning foreign exchange,
Ø Employment generation
Ø Mobilization of private resources
Stages of growth of tourism
There is a false notion that development can be created. As a matter of fact development should evolve. And the evolutionary stages have to be tailored, dovetailed and streamlined based upon the abject realities obtaining in the region. Superimposition is bound to be counter-productive. The growth of tourism should pass through three stages:
1. Local tourism (people of the locality/state)
2. Domestic tourism (people of the country
3. Foreign tourism.
For all practical purposes, a strong base of tourism development including cultural response and social appreciation is required. It is this social capital which pays much in the long run. The second stage: -i.e. domestic tourism, in a pluralistic society demands a step forward towards creation of a new environment for appreciating and accommodating various forms of cultural needs and social demands. This calls for a distinctly different form of tourism policy with a focus on diversified and multiple adjustments. The third one is very challenging in the sense that the tour operators have to come up to the international level of accommodation and adjustment in speech, style and service.

Tourism Multiplier (Economic Benefits)
The economic benefits derived from the tourism industry are explained with reference to Tourism Multiplier. With wide range of choice of tourist products, the tourism multiplier increases. The amount of expenditure made by tourists on various items of goods and services at different levels at different points of time during their stay determines the size of tourism multiplier. It is not merely the question of choice ; but it is basically the choice of quality. The more they spend, the higher the Tourism Multiplier. In a way it is the extensive practical application of the datum, “your expenditure is my income”. The ever-enlarging circle of input-output relationship; the ever-enlarging choice of consumption, investment and production leads to higher production, more employment and more income. In short, the mobilization of available resources gets activated through a simple mechanism of painless transfer of income. Normally the tourism multiplier is low in underdeveloped states like Manipur because of (1) security concern, (2) absence of tourist infrastructures and (3) lack of proper development of tourist destination. The larger participation of private sector in tourism industry is another issue. Only efficient forward and backward linkages can ensure better economic benefits. Economic benefits accrue to the economy in the form of:

a) Increase in National Income, including earning of foreign exchange,
b) Business income
c) Employment
d) Wages
e) Salary income
Market Share (p.c.)
The tourism of Europe accounts for 58 p.c. of the world tourism, followed by 19 p.c. of America. East Asia accounts for 16 p.c. Africa does bad with 4 p.c, while South Africa with only 1 p.c. The high per capita income, higher disposable income and greater thrust for new knowledge, perhaps, considerably influence the participation rate. One cannot expect tour and travel of the poor people whose life remains threatened with the crisis of immediate survival.

Contribution of tourism in India
The foreign tourist arrival in India increased from 2.38 million in 2002 to 4.45 million in 2006. In the same fashion domestic tourist visits increased from 269.6 million in 2002 to 461.2 million in 2006.

The foreign exchange earnings have grown by about 147 p.c. during 2002-2006 (from USD 2923 million to 6569 million). The average per tourist earnings in India was about USD 1476 as against the world average of USD 872 in 2006.

According to the Tourism Satellite Account for India, the contribution of tourism sector to the Gross Domestic Product of India and employment was 5.83 and 8.27 respectively in 2006, fairly high and encouraging.

Factors responsible for successful tourism
In fact, the culture of tourism industry is distinctly different from commodity sector. Excellence is, perhaps, the core culture of tourism. As such, the choice is considerably restricted unlike commodity market where a consumer enjoys a wide range of choice on which satisfaction of consumer depends. You cannot increase number of Taj Mahal, Humayun Tomb, Red Fort, Mughal Garden, Vrindaban Garden etc., so easily and so soon while they are major inputs for tourist attraction.

However, there are few general factors responsible for better performance of tourism. They are: —
1. Image of the state/country,
2. Local infrastructures,
3. Transport system,
4. Sanitation and hygiene,
5. Leisure and recreation centres,
6. Law and order,
7. Soft and hard cultures and
8. General behaviour of the local people.
Tourism scenario of Manipur
We entertain, perhaps, a doubtful appreciation that Manipur has beautiful landscape, forest, rivers, water bodies, flora and fauna. But the question is how long a tourist wants to stay at a particular place of tourist attraction? Can we call a place a tourist spot bereft of enduring tourist attraction? Who defines a tourist spot? What are the criteria or minimum conditions?

According to an official report of state government, Manipur has 54 tourist spots. And tourist flow increased from 90,870 in 1990 to 1,04,263 in 2000. In other words, during this period the tourist flow increased by 1.48 per cent annually, very slow and evidently discouraging. Much more discouraging is the decline of 2.68 per cent during 2000-2007. Why?

In the same fashion, the revenue earned from tourism sector recorded a decline from Rs. 39.02 lakhs in 1992-93 to Rs. 18.55 lakhs in 1999-2000. In 2003-04, we could collect Rs. 93 thousand only. Thereafter, the figure of revenue is not available. Why?

We cannot and should not attribute this disturbing and discouraging trend to the uneasy law and order, Restricted Area Permit and Inner Line Permit etc. only. Gradually the quantitative controls are getting liberalized. What is the quality of destination management? Do we have trained tourist operators? Do we have trained Taxi drivers? Do we have trained tourist guides? Do we have standard guest house? What is the condition of toilet, kitchen and dinning hall? Do we have regulated shopping centres? Do we have recreation centres where a tourist can enjoy the beauty of soft and hard cultures of indigenous people? This is total lack of tourist infrastructures. Besides, the nominal convergence of inter-sectoral activities with loose relationship remains the stumbling block.

Well, Loktak said to be the mirror of Manipur, is getting degraded and defaced. It has become a battle ground between Phumdi and Loktak Development Authority. Forest in the state is getting deserted. Rivers are getting dry and heavily polluted. So-called cities are full of pollutants. Markets are dumping grounds. There is no traffic rule. There are no public parks and parking. While the whole world has become so conscious of Corporate Social Responsibility, we are not aware of even consumer protection. Can we imagine the growth of tourism in this situation of heavy odds?

Interestingly the old and senior Imphal Hotel run by the Department of Tourism is, perhaps, not coming up in spite of increasing committed budgetary support, while the young and junior CLASSIC HOTEL has attained the status of 3-STAR within one year in August 2010. Not a single day the rooms are vacant; — fully booked daily. The Classic Hotel offers 58 luxurious accommodation facilities that include A Classic Presidential Suite, 2 Classic Executive Suites, 4 Classic Suites, 1 Classic Executive Deluxe, 24 Classic Deluxe Rooms and 26 Classic Standard Rooms. It also offers a multi-cuisine speciality restaurant, a rooftop outlet, a modern fitness centre, a traditional handloom boutique and a business centre. Its guest services include 24-hour room service, Wi-Fi internet connectivity, a spacious basement car park with valet service, concierge service, travel desk, 24-hour power back-up, an in-house doctor, laundry service, credit card/debit card payment facilities, electronic safety lockers, to-and-fro transport facility from the airport and taxi service, among others.
It also offers centralized air conditioned conference and banquet facilities at its two major conference halls, a mini-conference hall and the executive board-room. National and international conferences, seminars and banquets can be hosted with professional expertise. The Classic Hotel is our pride, represents the skill and ingenuity of an outstanding entrepreneur and living testimony to a strong ground for policy change from public control to private entrepreneurship. The article of administration of Dr. Th. Dhabali Singh, the proprietor, is “human use of human being” and “people at the centre”. Fully aware of the imperatives of connectivity, he thinks globally and acts locally.
The basic issue before tourism in Manipur is, among others, the maintenance of its historical assets with new value additions. We have to go back, for the time being, to the basics of life and society; to the basics of human relations, manners and decency.

Lastly, all tourist spots in Manipur have lost their academic values and intellectual appeal as they are run practically without any tourist guides, photo gallery and even without a piece of literature, guide book and small museum. They look like more of picnic spots than a tourist spot of lasting significance, lasting attraction and lasting impression. Bara khanas, prasadum and grand feasts -continue to be main highlight of the visit. People in group come occasionally, sit, eat and go back. The tourist guide at the INA Memorial at Moirang talks; but says nothing. The absence of institutional arrangement for educating on the values, society and history is a great weakness of the tourism development in Manipur.

Weak link between tourism and economy of Manipur
When state employees (nearly 70,000) do not receive their salary for 1-2 months, the trade and transactions in all markets in Manipur remain idle and weak. In the same way the link between agricultural sector and economy is very strong. The setback suffered by the agricultural sector means a setback in economic activities. But the weak performance in tourism cannot create any visible impact on the economy. With or without tourists arrival economy continues. This weak link is, perhaps, the reason why tourism cannot capture the critical attention of the state government. Right now, the contribution of tourism to GSDP is very negligible.

Towards a new Tourism Policy of Manipur
The proposed Tourism Policy of Manipur should clearly answer the following four questions.
1st Question: Where do we stand so far as tourism is concerned?
2nd Question: Where to go (level of development of tourism) ?
3rd Question: How to go (what are the means)?
4th Question: How soon (time to be taken) ?

We should also know that the core identity of hospitality industry is the “capturing the human mind”. You can easily buy a thing with money from the market. But it is extremely difficult to buy the mind of a tourist, a human being merely with money. It requires the highest devotion to human service. Look, service is important but more important is the way service is managed and provided, but much more important is the spirit with which the service is provided. The challenge is how to ensure the synergy and convergence of multiple sectors with human touch. We should not forget that a contented tourist is our best ambassador. Both our “soft” and “hard culture” should be so enriched to give an unforgettable message of endless curiosity and enduring temptation.

Concluding remarks
When the world has witnessed a new phenomenon of larger human interaction, when almost all countries are inviting both man and money for faster rate of development and in view of growing imperatives of global connectivity, the conservative thinking of living in the cocoons of unnecessary isolation out of fear of competition, inferiority complex and suspicion may prove suicidal. Besides the job of development is too big for Manipur to do alone. It faces uncommonly high hurdles with very limited resources.

The painless transfer of resources through a sound policy of tourism could be a better option, because it does not require heavy fixed capital and huge manpower. As such a time has come to capitalize the natural assets of beauty and culture with a new policy intervention. This calls for a new Tourism Governance in the state. Public-Private-Partnership initially on BOT Model may create a lasting sense of partnership, commitment and competitive entrepreneurship.

Table 1 Tourist flow in Manipur
Year Domestic Foreign Total
1990 90,685 185 90,870
2000 1,03,854 409 1,04,263
2007 1,01,000 460 1,01,460
Source: Directorate of Tourism, Govt. of Manipur.

Table 2 Income from tourism in Manipur
Year Rs. In lakhs
1990 16.79
1992-93 39.02
1999-2000 18.55
2003-04 0.93
Thereafter N.A.
(Ibid)

Table 3 Tourists Arrivals and Earnings/Receipts in India
Year Domestic tourist Foreign Tourist Earnings by India
(million) (million) (billion USD)
2002 269.6 2.38 2.9
200 461.2 4.45 6.6
Source : 11 Five Year Plan, 2007-2012, vol-lll, p-246
Writer is a member, steering committee,
NER Vision – 2020, DoNER, GOI)

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