Heritage & Tourism
Heritage and Tourism is one of the integral pillars of India, making it the 8th largest tourism economy globally (“Tourism and Hospitality” 2021). According to WTTC, tourism contributed to 6.8% of India’s GDP in 2019 supporting 8% of the total employment. India’s GDP growth has been projected to 9.7% through the tourism industry. In this piece, we are highlighting three major initiatives.
MoHUA, GOI, launched the HRIDAY scheme fostering inclusive development and preservation of twelve historic cities. The cities prepared a Plan identifying heritage and tourism projects upgradation, and 422 crore was approved in 2019 out of which 14 have been completed ("What is Hriday Scheme''2021). The Ministry of Tourism launched two other central sector schemes, Swadesh Darshan (SD) and PRASHAD for integrated and sustainable development of 15 thematic tourist and pilgrimage destinations. Till 2016, projects worth 1483.6 Cr. was sanctioned for 6 circuits in 18 projects (Ministry of Tourism, GOI,2016) whereas projects worth 229.4 crores were sanctioned under PRASHAD, including the development of Varanasi and Somnath.
Preservation and leveraging India’s massive intangible culture becomes extremely challenging. National Mission on Cultural Mapping and Roadmap (NMCM) has been initiated under the Ministry of Culture to create a database of all the scattered and extinct art forms and create a roadmap to encourage youth to pursue various art forms. The three major objectives under the mission are the National Cultural Awareness Abhiyan, Nationwide Talent Hunt or Scouting Progra, and National Cultural Workplace: Centralised Transactional Web Portal with database.
Currently, 14.5 lakhs artisans are registered. Indira Gandhi Centre for Arts initiated a 75 villages trial cultural mapping in October 2021 and aims to complete mapping 5000 villages by 2022 (Nath,2021). Under ‘Project Mausam’ GOI has proposed to establish cross cultural linkages to revive historic maritime cultural and economic ties with 39 Indian Ocean countries (Council for Startup India).
The Smart Cities Mission encourages various App based projects for tourism and heritage development. Dharamshala introduced One City Mobile ‘D-App’; Varanasi introduced Assi Ghat App and Kashi App. Kerala Municipal Corporation established C-HED, a research and development wing for heritage, environmental conservation and integrated development. Madurai is improving accessibility to 14 heritage sites near the Meenakshi Temple. The Tourism ministry launched “Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan” project which aims to encourage stakeholders to become ‘Monument Mitras’ for developing and upgrading tourist amenities under CSR model (Ministry of Tourism, GOI,2021).
In 2019, 2.93 million foreign tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa, registering a growth of 23.6% (Invest India, 2021). Under the start-up ecosystem, Flying Fox allows adventurers zip lines across four heritage sites. Transforming cities is a monumental task and investments can help provide the right financial and technical edge for tourism hubs to take advantage of their unique assets and turn into profitable ventures.