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Sunday, October 24, 2021

HVS Monday Musings: Adventure Tourism in India

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As per a recent travel survey, almost 65% of the Indians who participated in the survey were keen to travel for leisure and adventure in 2021. Several domestic tourists are now looking beyond traditional holidays. They want to try new experiences at open and less crowded places, which is likely to boost adventure tourism in the country. In fact, domestic tourists traveled to adventure sports hotspots in the country soon after the lockdown ended last year. For instance, media reports say that close to 60,000 tourists have visited Uttarakhand for river rafting since the activity reopened post the lockdown.
  
India has the potential to become a global adventure tourism hub going forward owing to its diverse natural landscape. The country’s vast coastline, deserts, snow-clad mountain peaks, forests, and undiscovered wilderness provide unique adventurous experiences to tourists. Trekking, rappelling, paragliding, and white-water rafting have been popular activities for the past few years. Meanwhile, multi-day trekking, ziplining, snorkeling, scuba diving, and four-wheel self-drive expeditions are some other activities that have been gaining ground. Realizing the potential of adventure tourism in the country, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) has announced several initiatives in the past few years to promote this niche segment. Some of them include creating adventure circuits, developing Indian Adventure Tourism guidelines with detailed operating and risk mitigation instructions, and opening 137 peaks for mountaineering and trekking with easier visa procedures for international tourists.

Adventure tourism in India is still evolving and its success going forward depends on how well the public and private sectors can collaborate to implement and monitor global standards in safety and professionalism while ensuring responsible and sustainable tourism practices. With the surge in domestic tourism, this is an appropriate time to focus on developing and promoting adventure travel in the country. For a start, it is vital to redesign adventure tourism programs to cater to the evolving demands of guests. For instance, smaller closed group activities instead of larger group activities are the need of the hour, to ensure social distancing and strict adherence to the pandemic-related safety and sanitization protocols to protect both tourists as well as employees.

The government’s adventure tourism guidelines should be implemented and executed uniformly across the country to ensure consistency. It is imperative to establish high standards of safety by leveraging the best practices from popular global adventure travel destinations such as New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil. Regular audits should be made to guarantee that the safety guidelines are being followed to the tee. Appropriate infrastructure facilities, accommodation, and equipment, including rescue and disaster management equipment and support, should be made available at even the most remote destination through public-private partnerships. Additionally, training the locals as professional guides and instructors, developing good homestays and bed & breakfast accommodation and an aggressive marketing campaign will go a long way in promoting India as a global adventure tourism destination with unique experiences in the future.

President (South Asia) at | + posts

Mandeep S. Lamba, HVS President of South Asia, oversees the practice in the region and is based in New Delhi, India. Mr. Lamba is a hospitality professional with an established leadership track record of over 35 years in varied roles with international leading organizations, including 17 years in CEO positions. Mandeep has extensive experience in hotel operations, development, strategy, and hospitality advisory, having worked for companies such as Choice Hotels, IHG, and Radisson Hotels before becoming President of ITC Fortune Hotels in 2001. After successfully building the Fortune Hotels midscale brand in India, Mandeep ventured into an entrepreneurial stint for over eight years, setting up joint-venture companies with Dawnay Day Group UK and Onyx Hospitality Thailand before joining Jones Lang LaSalle in 2014 as Managing Director, Hotels & Hospitality Group – South Asia.

Mr. Lamba’s current role at HVS involves advising investors on their hospitality-related growth and acquisition strategies; working with hotel owners and operators on asset management and raising debt and equity; consulting on feasibility, valuations and market studies, and participating in HVS’s Executive Search for hospitality and real estate leadership positions. An established industry leader, Mandeep has won several awards and recognitions for his accomplishments and contribution to the hospitality industry. He is a member of the Tourism Council of CII (Northern India) and a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, UK (MRICS). Recently, he was featured in the Hotelier India Power List of the most respected hoteliers in India for the second year in a row. For more information, please contact Mandeep S. Lamba at mlamba@hvs.com.

Senior Manager - Research at | + posts

Dipti Mohan, Senior Manager - Research with HVS South Asia, is a seasoned knowledge professional with extensive experience in research-based content creation. She has authored several ‘point of view’ documents such as thought leadership reports, expert opinion articles, white papers and research reports. Contact Dipti at dmohan@hvs.com

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