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Tourism: A major tool for heritage conservation in India

Addressing the recently concluded 2nd India Heritage Tourism Conclave in New Delhi, organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Parvez Dewan, Union Tourism Secretary, opined that tourism, if practiced in a proper manner, can act as a major tool for heritage conservation in India. Apart from Dewan, the conclave also witnessed the presence of P. P. Srivastav from North Eastern Planning Council; Sandip Somany, President, PHD Chamber, B. Hariharan, Chairman, Tourism Committee, PHD Chamber and representatives from travel and tourism fraternity. The gathering saw an open house discussion regarding issues and challenges affecting investment in the tourism sector.

Citing examples from Ladakh, Dewan informed that the Ladakh Festival buttressed, supported and solidified the local culture. “Tourism has helped in the conservation local heritage in terms of local arts and artifacts, customs, architecture and cuisines in Ladakh,” he added. He also cited examples from Britain and Budapest. “In Britain, we found that tourism is the only way to maintain heritage properties by either turning them into museums or allowing tourists to visit them once or twice in a week for a fee. This will help in maintaining heritage buildings,” he said and added that we could also adopt ways to preserve and popularise our past glory. Taking note of the unregulated mushrooming of vendors and various types of establishments in and around heritage sites, he advocated for regulating construction activities near these structures.

He opined that it is every citizen’s duty to protect and conserve our heritage. “We actually talk a lot about our culture and heritage. But who cares for it?” he asked, and added that no government in the world has the funds or the ability to preserve every heritage structure. People’s cooperation is required,” he said. Talking about Budapest, he said the government gives a token amount to those houses which have a heritage façade. He suggested emulating this practise in India.

According to Srivastav, tourism is one sector which has got the maximum spin and it does not just boost economic growth but also brings people and culture together. “The main issue is relative inaccessibility, but efforts are being made to change this,” he said.

Hariharan said that tourism works as a great marketing tool that is a unique amalgamation of all other forms of tourism. “But India needs a professional touch to keep the Indian heritage sites like Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri etc in perfect condition,” he added.

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