Ghumakkar family is growing constantly and in the past one month, we have had as many as 10 new members write for us:
Welcome to Ghumakkar everyone. We are really pleased to have you with us. Hope you have had a nice time so far and are feeling at home here.
There are times when our faith needs to be reaffirmed for our optimism to kick in. And there are times when we have to channel our emotions into positive energy to get over setbacks. All of us want India to shine. And for that to happen, all of us need to believe in it. Everyone can make a difference.
Fuelled by this pride, I recently got into a minor argument with an influential international traveller over India. While what the traveller said was unfair, we have to admit that India can be overwhelming for a foreign tourist. The sheer number of people, differences in customs across various parts of India, and the level of spices in our food can pose many challenges for them. While these add to the character of the country, I couldn’t help but think of some steps that India can take to make tourists (foreign or local) feel more comfortable and safe. So here are some things that I think will make India shine, tourism-wise at least:
Tourist Information Centres
Manned by well-informed people who genuinely want to help tourists find their way around the place. Generally people who love a place suit this kind of job the best for the reason that they are very conscious of projecting a positive image of the place. Indifferent babus will not do. And also, these centres should be well-equipped with pamphlets containing phone numbers and addresses of reliable taxi providers, places to visit, places to eat, hotels and inns, and maps to be handed out free of charge. We need a generous sprinkling of these centres across cities and villages. These information centres can earn some money too by selling local merchandise, fridge magnets, postcards etc. So it will overall be a win-win situation for everyone.
Home Food Joints
A lot like the concept of Bed and Breakfasts, Local households can register to provide true home-cooked food for tourists. The registered households should be required to go through a thorough inspection for quality, taste, and cleanliness regularly in order to maintain their licenses. These households can then provide Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner to the tourists at reasonable prices. And these households should not serve Daal Makhani, Shahi Paneer, and Butter Chicken. Instead they should concentrate on the dishes that don’t regularly appear on restaurant menus, such as Arhar Daal with plain rice, aaloo-mattar, curd-rice, Poha. In short, the stuff that we eat regularly at home. This provides a reliable source of income for households and food that is easy on stomach yet full of local touch for tourists.
Local Friend Service
Many tourists fear being duped in foreign lands. They feel more comfortable if they have a local friend to guide them. However, this isn’t always possible. A service that provides the tourists with someone they can trust for helping them make day-to-day decisions such as what to wear, how much to pay, where to eat etc. will be very beneficial. Of course the ‘Local Friend’ should go through rigorous assessments and background checks before being employed.
Efficient Emergency Response Services
This is an area where we really need to catch up. Unfortunately police does not arrive late only in the climax of Bollywood movies. We need to have ER services that are prompt in responding to emergencies and by prompt, I don’t mean within 24 hours. They should have a protocol of reaching the person in distress within 10 minutes. Something on the lines of Britain’s 911 service will help a lot. And this service should include medical help, police services, and fire-brigades. The service should be available to everyone in the country. The presence of such a service will instill a lot of confidence in tourists.
Clean and Comfortable Loos
Need I say more? These should be everywhere. And there shouldn’t be a charge for using these. More people should be employed to keep these clean. The loos should also be secured to prevent vandalism and crime. They should also be made accessible to people with disabilities.
There is a lot more that we can do to make India a more attractive and safe travel destination. And if you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment. All this might sound like an awful lot of investment but just imagine the returns. An increase in travel and tourism will increase cash flow into the country. The overall image of our nation will improve. And perhaps people will think twice before talking rubbish about India.
Till the next time…