It is that time of the year when there seems to be a natural feeling of happiness in the air
It is that time of the year when there seems to be a natural feeling of happiness in the air. December brings with it a certain element of joy and celebration across the world and everyone surely gets back to making those solemn resolutions to welcome 2016 with a re-energised disposition. My recent visit to the land of Gross National Happiness, Bhutan, was in a way an eye opener. It is a land amidst the mountains that looks reasonably content and at peace with itself and the surroundings. Pitched as a high end niche tourism destination, the country aims at preserving its uniqueness by placing a certain restriction in the form of tourism tax on foreign nationals (India and now other SAARC countries are exempted). The objective is to activate some control on the carrying capacity of the region. India may not want to follow its SAARC neighbour’s example with respect to tourism tax, but it can surely place in no uncertain terms, definite rules to address the issue of carrying capacity into the mountains and other eco tourism sensitive zones. India has the best to offer to the world; all we need is the authorities to implement real time tourism programmes that are meaningful and measurable. In this issue, Dr Mukul Sangma, Meghalaya’s chief minister states in his interview that for a small state like their’s they are aiming to bring in high end clientele. Involvement of the local community and training them right to deal with high end tourism is their focus.
2016 cannot afford to be just another year of promises without action on the ground. Effective skills development is the need of the hour for quality tourism in the country and grassroots mobilisation will go a long way in building the much needed sustainable tourism programme. Further, our cover story this issue is unique in every way. This last issue of 2015 takes you into regions far and wide that celebrate winter sports and winter tourism delights. The travel trade can tap this goldmine to leverage on its immense popularity among Indian travellers. From Christmas markets in Austria to dog sledding competitions in Alaska, from skiing in Auli to watching the colourful Aurora Bourealis (Northern Lights) in Norway, the attractions are many and varied for those opting for a holiday in sub-zero environs, both in India and overseas.
On a note of positivity, we wish all our readers and associates a peaceful and progressive 2016.