Social, Economic and Cultural implications of Tourism in himachal Pradesh

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Social, Economic and Cultural implications of Tourism in himachal Pradesh

Social implications

Transportation problems are the main issue in the social agenda. Traffic problems have been aggravated due to factors like mixed traffic patterns, incorrect utilization of urban infrastructure, and distorted distribution of land use in addition to tremendous tourist traffic. The improper geometric design of roads, poor surface conditions, constraints of parking, and abutting encroachment have reduced the capacity of travel speed substantially. The level of service has virtually come to a stop-and-go condition, resulting in increased travel times, fuel costs, and vehicular emissions. The negligible public transport system and informal road network system have promoted intermediate public transport systems (autorikshaws and taxis) and personalized transport modes In terms of the health and safety of the local community, problems are really serious. Manali experiences one of the worst problems of crowding and congestion during the peak tourist season. The average daily traffic volume is 7562 vehicles, which is equivalent to 11240 PCUs, with 99 percent of these vehicles being fast moving vehicles. The problem of congestion is compounded by the lack of parking facilities in the town. Both sides of the main road are being used for idle parking, reducing the available road width. The Mall experiences the highest parking accumulation with about 700 to 800 vehicles parked on the road every day. With such a large floating population, the pedestrian movement also becomes a problem due to the lack of road space.

Economic implications

Himachal Pradesh with its serene valleys and a diverse culture is home to spiritual, medical and wellness and adventure tourism. The state has the world’s highest cricket ground in Chail and also the World’s most beautiful cycling track . The MTB HIMALAYA & Himalayan Adventure Sports & Tourism Promotion Association has given a new face to the biking in India and has further added to the tourist attraction of the state. Availability of natural resources has made the state an attractive destination for investments in tourism, agricultural, hydroelectric power and cement.  The average GSDP growth rate between 2004-05 and 2009- 10 was about 11.4 percent. Himachal Pradesh is a leading producer of apples, producing 2.8 lakh metric tons of apple in 2009-10. Compared to national average growth rate of 12.5 percent, the number of tourists in Himachal Pradesh has grown at a CAGR of 14 percent during the 2006 – 2010. The total number of tourists (foreign as well as domestic) visiting Himachal Pradesh has consistently increased from 88 lakhs in 2007 to 151 lakhs in 2011. Himachal Pradesh government invests 0.28 percent of its budget in tourism. The market share (market share being defined as the total number of tourists visiting a state as a percentage of total tourists in the country),of Himachal Pradesh is 1.8% and the CAGR2006-2010. The market share of Himachal Pradesh in total number of tourists is still low as compared to other top performing states such as Andhra Pradesh (20.6%).

The state government has taken many initiatives in promoting tourism in Himachal Pradesh. Slogans like ‘Unforgettable Himachal’ and ‘A Destination for All Seasons and All Reasons’ .To promote the state both movie star Ms Preity Zinta has been nominated as the brand ambassador of Himachal Pradesh Tourism. The state recently won national-level ‘Best Tourism Promotion Award’ for its campaign ‘Unforgettable Himachal’. The effectiveness of the marketing campaign of Himachal Pradesh tourism has increased sustained focus on branding both in India and internationally and has helped in increasing tourist flow in the state. The state government keeps a vision to increase the share of tourism in the state’s finances. It is important to note that contribution of home and foreign tourists in Himachal Pradesh’s GDP is as high as 26%. The contribution of foreign tourist is estimated to be the largest and over 20%(Economic survey of HP2013-2014) .According to State Tourism Policy 2005, the state aims – “To make tourism the prime engine of economic growth by positioning the state as a leading global destination by the year 2020.” Himachal Pradesh Government introduced Home Stay Facilities on the basis of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India “Incredible India Bed and Breakfast scheme in 2008.  There are around 216 homestays registered. All these schemes have hugely contributed to the economic growth and development of the state.

Cultural implications

Indirectly, tourism has contributed towards the revival of cultural traditions in Naddi village, upper Dharamashala – the home of the tribal Gaddi people. A local grassroots rural development NGO, EduCARE India, aims to empower the local women and bring about personal, economic and community development while preserving the natural environment and the local Gaddi culture. The Home Stay’s project was initiated in 2012 in order to improve the economic livelihoods of the local women and regenerate their cultural traditions. During their stay, guests engage in the daily chores of rural living, tend to livestock and farms, cook traditional meals and witness Gaddi tribal dance and performance. Furthermore, they also have the opportunity to volunteer their time in the village in various education and conservation projects. Thus, this project has developed into a platform where different cultures can meet, share, and learn in a joyous and serene atmosphere. Through this cross-cultural exchange, the local Gaddi cultural identity has been strengthened.

Unfortunately, there have also been many negative impacts of tourism, both on the local environment and cultural identity of the local population. Socially, tourism has brought new attitudes and beliefs to the local populations. Whilst these new values have enabled local communities to become more globally aware and connected, it has also increased their sense of deprivation of their current way of life, and increased their level of consumerism.

 

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