If all goes well and there are no unexpected events, the coming tourism season in Uttarakhand should be a robust one. In fact, there have been large numbers of tourists landing up here at every opportunity with the better responses to Covid-19. The question is whether the state is properly prepared to make the most of the opportunity and to ensure that the visitors have a good experience. This is easier said than done because capacities in various verticals are lacking, to say the least. There have been initiatives taken to deal with the rush, but it will take some years for these to develop to the necessary level.
As such, it will be at the human resource level in the tourism sector that extra efforts will have to be made. There will be any number of problems faced by tourists, such as traffic jams, unavailability of rooms in hotels, getting stranded in difficult terrain, medical emergencies, etc. All of these require properly motivated and trained first responders from not just the designated agencies but also the local populace. Although, after years of experience in dealing with visitors, some level of expertise has developed, here, it is by no means at par with that which exists in J&K and Himachal Pradesh.
Those in charge of tourism, in government or the private sector, should take the initiative to identify recurrent problems and work out prepared responses at the required levels. Awareness should be generated on how every local can play a part in making the visitor’s experience better. Some of the best publicity destinations get is from stories told by tourists of receiving help in difficult situations. Even in the pilgrimage circuit, the traditional approach has to be changed – people come to worship at the shrines to obtain spiritual benefits, but it would not hurt if they also find the journey a pleasant and fulfilling experience.
Even in the present circumstances, alternate destinations to the traditional ones can be developed and promoted just through an imaginative approach. Dehradun, for instance, should not just be a place that people pass through – it has the capacity for becoming a base for excursions to the numerous local and nearby sites. It is just that people need to be made aware of them. Initiatives such as the ropeway, electric buses, etc., will eventually sync to further this objective, but people need to be thinking along those lines first. The possibilities are many but a beginning has to be made.