Monsoon – the word itself conjures magic, casting a spell over one’s senses. As the rain lashed most parts of the country, CII set the stage for States from different corners of India to promote a unique tourism package called ‘Monsoon Tourism’. Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Puducherry – states are blessed with the monsoon showers. Hence, industry players and tour operators came together at the ‘Seminar on Monsoon Tourism’ organised by the Confederation on Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi.
Overall the monsoon season in India has been considered a wet blanket for the tourism industry with hotel and resort occupancies falling by nearly 50 percent and a sharp reduction in revenues for travel and tour operators. The seminar was held to dispel the myth that the rainy season – which starts with the onset of the southwest monsoon in June and continues till the middle of September – is a lean season in India. In the seminar, industry players brought in monsoon packages offering discounts and incentives to tap the drop in tourist inflows.
Speaking at the seminar, P Rajavelu, Minister for Tourism, Government of Puducherry, said, “Monsoon is the time when people shun travelling, however, it is the best time to visit India. In Puducherry, monsoon starts from November and ends mid-December which is a pre-peak season of high-end international travelers.”
The Minister highlighted a few occasions and places as monsoon attractions – the Boat Race in Kerala, Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand, Adventure Sports in Rishikesh, the Satpura Monsoon Festival and the Mud Rush Festival in Gujarat.
Addressing the event, Arjun Sharma, Chairman, Le Passage to India, said, “When it comes to monsoon tourism, Goa and Kerala are the ground breakers which paved the path for several other states. The myth about India being not so popular during the monsoon season is fast changing. But what we need to make this a flourishing tourist season is to improve infrastructure – roads, airline services and hotels. Monsoon is the time when MICE tourism, conferences and events can be held.”
Subhash Goyal, President IATO and Chairman, STIC Travels, cited the example of Punjab with its colourful green vistas during rains and the culture and folk songs of the season which can be marketed. “The monsoon season is the best season to tap honeymooning couples. Every State with monsoon related fairs and festivals should be marketed as prime destinations during this season,” he said.
Chandrashekhar S Jaiswal, Deputy General Manager, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, highlighted how the State has come out as a winner in terms of promoting monsoon packages – from its five heritage sites to 1,000 caves, 300 forts, five jyotirlingas, numerous beaches, hill stations, waterfalls and wildlife sanctuaries.
The intoxicating smell of dry earth drenched with the first showers makes monsoon a favourite season in India. But the season is also plagued with landslides, floods and waterlogged road. “What we need is participation from the government and private players in the tourism sector to enhance the tourism circuits. Infrastructure development is a must for promotion of monsoon tourism in the country,” he added.
Speaking on sustainability and development of monsoon tourism, PP Khanna, Director, Diplomatic Travel Point & Mentor, Advaita Events, said that political, infrastructure – including roads, electricity, accessibility and connectivity – and social development were the foundation on which sustainability rests. These factors ensure a high level of satisfaction amongst tourists.
Tourism depends on the social, economic and political policies of the States. Its sustainability depends on the satisfaction of tourists which should be necessary and meaningful. During monsoon, the hotel tariffs and air fares go down. And therefore, monsoon tourism can play important role in the economic development of the State in the lean season. Thus, we can focus on this lean season by promoting monsoon tourism. Having a huge population, we have huge market for domestic tourism, Khanna further said.
Giving examples of success stories, he further said, “Kerala has green season campaign and good back waters for promoting tourism in the monsoon. The State also has a monsoon tourism circuit. In Madhya Pradesh, known as city of lakes, many places are developed for monsoon tourism.
The experts opine that the ecosystem of every State is different, thus while promoting tourism, the ecosystem should not be disturbed. The hoteliers, transporters and tour operators should make packages, specialised for monsoon tourism.
Deepa Laskar, Deputy Director of Tourism, Assam Tourism shared how the Northeastern State is highlighting the State’s tea gardens, heritage tea bungalows along with golf resorts and wildlife sanctuaries as hotspots for monsoon months.
Sanjay Basu, Senior Vice President, Adventure Tour Operators Association of India pointed out that the ‘lean period’ or ‘off season tag’ disheartens tourists from visiting during the monsoon months. “India is blessed with two iconic natural assets – the monsoon and Himalayas. We should capitalise on our natural beauty – the hills, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, gurgling rivers, lush green rainforests. The 7 percent of world tourism is in nature tourism, why can’t we tap that?”
Rajasthan has waived away the taxes in the lean period, other States should also follow that. If it’s not done, tourism in the lean period will not be sustainable. In this circumstance, it will affect employment of thousands of people.
Most gathered urged for the opening up of national parks and buffer zones of wildlife sanctuaries during the monsoons.