• Rohit Hangal

Riding the Heritage-Tourism story! - Part 1

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

The world of heritage and tourism are so interconnected, as much as a sculptor to his muse and to his discerning voyeur. A monument to experience will forever be the inspiration; for a sculptor or a painter to ply his trade for. The National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States defines heritage tourism as "traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past", and "heritage tourism can include cultural, historic and natural resources".

The key proof of a continuously living civilization is in its voluminous virasat in the form of its heritage that is there to touch, feel and experience from almost every era. India has probably more historical monuments per square metre than any other nation on the earth. Every dynasty, irrespective of it being home-grown to that of the invaders have all left their mark in form of their heritage value.

Showcasing Monuments or its intangible heritage will always be a destination's USP (Unique Selling Proposition). No two monuments are alike, in its historical significance and contribution to its tourism value. As monuments bring in a heritage value to a destination, it is the story that brings in the experience. As stories and the storytellers makes any destination memorable, and adds value as a discerning tourist, it is for those in the tourism industry to go niche!

I came across this Release issued by Canada based ‘Bestway Tours & Safaris’ promoting ‘The Beatles in India Tour’, “which claims that free-spirited travellers can ‘relive’ part of the 1960s and discover wondrous India as The Beatles did on their life-changing 1968 visit there, on “The Beatles In India Tour.” The 18-day tour led by Emmy-award winning film producer and director, Paul Saltzman, stayed with and exclusively photographed The Beatles during their visit to India. “The Beatles wrote 48 songs in 7 weeks on that trip – the single most creative period in their illustrious career,” said Saltzman.

The fully escorted tour has Rishikesh and other spiritual and special Indian sites where The Beatles came together, and will meet Indian musicians who know and performed with members of the group. It includes three days in Rishikesh, a holy city on the Ganges River, which is a gateway to the Himalayas where The Beatles spent considerable time, and a visit to the former ashram where The Beatles meditated. Travelers will meet Indian classical musician, composer and Grammy Award winner Ravi Shankar, who taught George Harrison of The Beatles to play the sitar, and visit Ajit Singh, a famous Vichitra Veena player who also performed with Harrison. There will be visits to the historic “Pink City” of Jaipur, Udaipur, the holy city of Haridwar, Mumbai, the capital city New Delhi, and Agra to see the magnificent “Taj Mahal.” Optional yoga sessions, white-water rafting, and spa treatment can add to the aura”.

What differentiates the above package from the regular run of the mill ones that float around, is its ability to create an added ‘experience factor’ to the discerning and will surely cost about three times the regular package to India. A bit of research and creativity will add value to bottom lines than plying the number game. About 17 million foreign tourists visited India in 2018, while the domestic traveller reached over half a billion. With the numbers, going south the world over, thanks to the ongoing super tearjerker, going by the name of Covid 19, it is imperative for travel companies and professionals to be creative and discover new sources of inspiration to design ‘Experiences’ for high value special interest travel individuals and groups.

The author is the Director of 'Sphere Travelmedia', which provides a range of consulting services for travel companies, hotels, resorts & destinations seeking a break – through into the Indian Travel and Tourism market.

This article is Part 1 of a series of two articles. Stay tuned for more!

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