Ajeet Bajaj voices the need for specialised guides and duty-free gear for adventure tour operators
Akansha Pandey | New Delhi
Addressing the launch of the Adventure Tourism Guidelines by Ministry of Tourism (MoT), Government of India in New Delhi yesterday, Ajeet Bajaj, Senior Vice President, Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) applauded MoT’s cooperation in striving to make India among the top destinations for adventure tourism. Simultaneously, he also utilised the opportunity in bringing to light the impediments in boosting the adventure travellers.
He mentioned that India needs more guides specialising in adventure travel. Presently, as per his knowledge, none of the educational institutes in India offers any such specialised course for adventure guides.
India does have world-class guides in India but with growing numbers, it needs to foresee and prepare much in advance. To start off, government institutes can lead the way by commencing such specialised courses, he suggested.
The Ministry of Tourism can further facilitate in getting duty-free quality gear to recognised tour operators. This will assist in elevating the standards, he said.
Commenting on the guideline implementation he added that tourism is a state subject and now the ball is in their court. It will take a year or so for operators to comply with the new rules.
Proposed by ATOAI and contributed by experts (even global) in each domain, these new guidelines on Adventure Tourism will be open for periodic reviews.
For instance, in the next review, we will be looking at including Caving in Meghalaya as it is quite in demand in the region.
A total of 28 adventure activities have been covered under the new guidelines which have just been launched and they will be the gamechanger for sure, he believes.
It took us six months to pen down and launch the new adventure tourism guidelines. For active holidayers to be in safe hands, we urge all operators to follow the directives in letter and spirit, mitigating risks. This will portray and promote adventure tourism in India in an altogether new light, urged Bajaj.
As per 2016 statistics, adventure tourism globally is a $430 billion industry and growing at a staggering rate of 46% annually. In the next decade, the sector is expected to surpass the $1 trillion mark.
In India, the inbound adventure visitors are increasing at 5-7% annually while the domestic numbers are scaling up by 20-25%.
India is the world’s biodiversity hotspot and comprises every conceivable geographical terrain. Majority Himalayas lie in our territory. With such natural treasure, Bajaj added that ATOAI aims to make India the “Adventure Tourism Capital of the World.”