Is India your next adventure hub?
Image Source: Kerala Tourism
India holds a significant geographic advantage owing to its rich natural and ecotourism resources. From North to South and East to West, the nation’s geographic features provide it a competitive advantage when it comes to the growth/development of adventure tourism prospects. For instance, it ranks 6th in terms of several recognized UNESCO Natural Heritage sites and ranks 10th in terms of the total area under forest cover. It has 7,000 km of coastline and about 70% of the Himalayas and India is one of the three countries in the world with both hot and cold deserts.
Considering the immense potential of adventure tourism in the country, the vision of the government is to make India a one-trillion-dollar tourism economy by 2047, the year when the nation will celebrate its 100th anniversary of independence.
About adventure tourism
Adventure tourism, a distinctive niche within the broader tourism industry, involves travellers participating in thrilling activities like trekking, climbing, and scuba diving. This form of travel not only adds excitement but also encourages exploration beyond one’s comfort zone, often fostering connections with new cultures and landscapes. The popularity of adventure tourism is on the rise, offering diverse vacation experiences.
Categorized into Hard Adventure and Soft Adventure, the former involves high-risk activities like mountain climbing, while the latter includes less intense pursuits like backpacking. Both categories emphasize the principles of sustainable tourism. Adventure tourism, with its year-round appeal, contributes to destination preservation, attracting passionate travellers and positively impacting local economies.
Adventure tourists play a vital role in promoting sustainability, as the sector relies on preserving beautiful natural environments and fostering meaningful cultural experiences for its continued success.
Promoting adventure tourism in India
To spur the development of the adventure tourism sector in the country, a National Strategy for adventure tourism has been prepared. The strategy has recognized adventure tourism as one of the important segments to play a significant role in promoting sustainable tourism.
The strategy aims to establish India as a preferred destination for adventure tourism globally. It focuses on developing adventure destinations, promoting safety in adventure tourism, skill development, capacity building and marketing.
Over the next five years, the adventure tourism industry in India is projected to grow at a rate of 20% annually, reaching a valuation of about US$2 billion by 2028. Adventure tourism is also aligned with the government’s “Make in India” campaign since it ensures that 60–90% of the money remains with the local community. Thus it eventually contributes towards improving the economic status of the local community.
The enabling environment for the growth of adventure tourism
Many stakeholders will be involved in the growth and marketing of India’s adventure tourism. These stakeholders include the central ministries, state governments, Panchayati Raj Institutions, industry, non-government organizations and the local community. The contribution of all these stakeholders will be essential for the success of the National Strategy for Adventure Tourism.
Adventure tourism may be promoted by increasing investments in research on target adventure market segments, adventure trends, and potential products for the adventure tourism industry. The strategy should be to foster public-private collaborations. At the same time, it needs to be ensured that all safety and service standards and regulations are followed and strictly enforced.
Consultation with the local community is necessary wherever adventure tourism is planned to be developed. An action plan needs to be implemented to win social legitimacy, credibility, and trust of the local community.
A destination that is not well-connected loses competitiveness. Therefore, it is imperative to promote adventure opportunities online and ensure that these are readily available for booking. It is equally important that the tourist destination’s prices are competitive. In case the destination offers anything special, it must be made known to the customers. Sharing of real-time experiences by tourists also benefits the destinations significantly.
Proposals are being discussed to promote adventure tourism in a mission mode and it is being incorporated under Swadesh Darshan 2.0, which seeks to attain “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” by realizing India’s full potential as a tourism destination with the mantra of ‘vocal for local’.
However, the adventure tourism industry also faces some constraints that call for thoughtful consideration. Take, for instance, the fact that ecologically sensitive regions often become the sites/destinations for adventure tourism, such as the national parks and remote mountain ranges. These natural environments may be severely impacted by a spike in tourists and by unregulated & irresponsible adventure tourism. That could result in a decline in biodiversity as well as impact the local communities.