By Arijit Dutta, MD, PEPL
Eco-Adventure Tourism has been my interest because I have always been very fond of nature. In the younger days, being in St. Paul’s, Darjeeling, we used to do a lot of trekking, camping, pioneer camps, Duke of Edinburgh Scheme.
My eco-tourism is at a different level. I don’t like the idea of a bungalow or lodge or a resort. Mine is more on the form of tents. Luxury tents, but stay with nature, far away from human habitation, so that it gives you the feeling that you are close to nature, and when you are on the tents, somehow you sleep differently.
Khairabera Eco-Adventure Resorts in Purulia is a super hit among tourists over the past 1 ½ years. Facilities as riding, trekking, fishing, animal watching put together of International standards at quite a moderate pricing is attracting tourists in droves from not only Bengal but Bihar, Jharkhand and other places of India. This is one of its kind facility in the country and the only in the East which is actually bringing the patrons closest to nature.
My latest project Eco Adventure Resorts at Burra Bungalow, Temi Tea Gardens, South Sikkim is again another extension of my love for nature.
The business of eco-adventure tourism has a great demand-supply imbalance and PEPL shall play an important role in the next few years of bridging the gap.
My natural affinity for the jungle and adventure has given me an impetus to set my foot in eco-adventure tourism. Since I have been in the jungles, safaris on numerous occasions and as I have grown in the hills it is but natural that will understand the business of eco-adventure tourism better than a just an investor/entrepreneur would. The pros and cons of the eco-adventure tourism business are much better understood and practically applicable ideas and vision is a natural fall out of years and hours spent in such environs, which I have done.
Our Eco Adventure Resorts at Khairabera, Purulia has completely changed the dynamics of the tourism landscape of the area. Very few tourists actually knew about the rugged terrain yet scenic beauty of that area before we had launched the KHAIRABERA ECO ADVENTURE RESORTS. But the most modern facilities that we are providing at KEARS with the state of the art facilities twined with the naturally beautiful surroundings is an eclectic mix of nature and modern facilities and KEARS project is a winner all the way and is perhaps the landmark tourism initiative of Eastern India and again PEPL is pioneering the same.
Tourism creates jobs in primary, secondary and tertiary sectors
Despite the recent growth of the tourism sector in the country, India’s share in international tourist arrivals is a meager 0.50%, while the share in the global international tourism receipts is around 1.30% only. Tourism not only creates jobs in the tertiary sector, but it also encourages growth in the primary and secondary sectors of the industry.
Lack of infrastructure
It is a major challenge for the Indian tourism sector. Tourism-associated economic and social infrastructure – hotels, connectivity, human resources, hygiene, health facilities, etc are largely underdeveloped in India. The poor quality of infrastructure is reflected in India’s 112th rank in the ICT readiness component and 104th rank in the health and hygiene components of the WEF’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017. The prime reason for this apathy is the poor allocation of financial resources. It should be noted that in the Budget 2017-18, the government has allocated only Rs 1840 crore for a promising sector like tourism.
Safety and security
Safety and security of tourists, especially of the foreign tourists, is a major roadblock to the tourism development. Attacks on foreign nationals, especially on women, raise questions about India’s ability to welcome tourists from far away countries. Among the 130 countries surveyed, India was placed at the 114th position in terms of safety and security aspect in the WEF Index 2017.
Majority of the tourist spots in the country are not accessible to poor, women and elderly. This is because of the high costs of traveling, poor connectivity and a series of permissions required for various reasons.
India’s tourism sector witnessed a growth of 4.5 percent in terms of foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) with 8.2 million arrivals in 2015, and a growth of 4.1 percent in foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) of USD 21.1 billion. While in 2016, FTAs were 8.9 million with a growth of 10.7 percent and FEE (USD terms) were at US$ 23.1 billion with a growth of 9.8 percent. In 2015, the domestic tourist visits to States/UTs was pegged at 143 crores in 2015.