While India is popular for a myriad of tourist attractions such as scenic beauty, adventure activities, heritage and culture, among others, a facet of tourism that has potential but is ignored is garden tourism. India has several historic gardens as well as exhibitions and seasonal flower shows that can easily be pushed among the foreign tourists visiting the country. The Mughal gardens of North India, of which the Taj Mahal Garden and the Shalimar Bagh Garden in Kashmir are perhaps the most famous, are never popularised as part of the state’s tourist offerings.
According to Venkat Iyer, Business Director, Orbitz Corporate & Leisure Travels, while there are no requests exclusively for gardens in India, foreign visitors do tour the gardens as part of their trips if there is a special bloom in season. “For instance, when seasonal flowers bloom in the Valley of Flowers, visitors who are already touring Jammu and Kashmir will visit it,” he said.
Ravi Goel, Co-Founder and Director, Ecomantra stated that there is no specific niche called garden tourism in India yet. “Our experience says that garden tourism is a very small part of a day trip, when the guest visits gardens, zoos, botanical parks etc. For instance - In Srinagar, our guests are big on Nishaat baag, Tulip Garden, Shaalimar and other Mughal gardens since they are historical, big and world class. In Darjeeling, Gangtok, Mysore and ooty, they like to visit Botanical gardens. One of my guests wanted to visit Srinagar just because he wanted to visit Tulip garden shown in bollywood movies,” he said.
Goel further added that in the rest of India, in tourism zones such as Goa, Rajasthan etc., there is a complete absence of world class gardens that are worth to visit as part of the day trip and hence nobody asks for it. “If a world class garden exists - people love to visit them. Our outbound guests love the gardens in Europe. I have never heard a guest specifically ask for gardens,” he said.
Ajay Prakash, Chief Executive, Nomad Travels, does not believe that garden tourism is a segment to be promoted in India. According to him, on the face, several other attractions in the country would far outcry gardens. However, Iyer is more optimistic, stating that the segment has potential if promoted correctly, especially in the hills.
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