India is being readily pushed as an adventure tourism destination with MoT and ATOAI, developing new goals every day.
Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI), a national body recognised by the Ministry of Tourism (MoT), Government of India, has taken a step forward to develop and market India as the “adventure capital of the world”. The 13th Annual Convention of ATOAI that witnessed the presence of over 300 delegates was hosted by Kerala Tourism in Kumarakom with an agenda to boost the adventure tourism potential of India. The theme of the event was Emerging Pathways.
Through the convention, ATOAI invited all stakeholders to contribute in its resolve to develop goals to place India at the forefront of adventure tourism. According to Captain Swadesh Kumar, President, ATOAI, “India is a country that offers almost every adventure and active holiday experience that one can seek. Even as the definition of adventure has expanded, India has upped its game to offer all this. To achieve our desired objectives, ATOAI has proposed to the Ministry of Tourism that the year 2018 be declared a Year of Adventure in India.”
Incidentally, Kumarakom, where the convention was held, has been shortlisted for the WTM (World Travel Market) Responsible Tourism Awards to be presented in London in November 6-8 this year.
Gauging the adventure tourism potential
“India offers adventure tourism in air, land and water. Parasailing, river rafting or bungee jumping are just some of the popular sports on offer. However, with ‘adventure’ comes risk,” read last week’s report on the proposed mandatory insurance for adventure tourism related personnel.
Earlier that week, the Ministry of Tourism drafted guidelines for the Indian adventure tourism industry to cover a host of operational issues ranging from tourists safety, ethics and risk management. A total of eighteen land-based adventure tourism activities, seven air-based tourism activities and six water-based activities, which are offered in India, have been covered under the draft guidelines. This came amid the Centre’s efforts to boost the tourism sector in India with a new strategy. The guidelines stipulate that all adventure tourism operators should be registered with the Tourism department of their respective states. They would also need to get recognition from the Union Tourism Ministry to operate.
Safety is an important determinant when it comes to adventure tourism. Rajesh Ojha, Convention Chairman, ATOAI, explained, “Since 1994, ATOAI has been at the forefront of influencing policy, helping members create capacity, training, establishing safety standards, ensuring sustainable practices and marketing. The year 2017 marks a watershed when the association has taken upon itself to raise the bar.
Central Financial Assistance is being extended to various State Governments and Union Territories for developing adventure tourism facilities, the likes of trekking, rock climbing, mountaineering, aero-sports, winter/ water related sports, trekker huts, and wildlife viewing facilities among others. Financial assistance for the purchase of water sports equipment consisting of kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, fibreglass boats, hovercrafts, water scooters is also being provided to State Governments.
The Indian Institute of Skiing & Mountaineering, under Ministry of Tourism (MoT), has been made fully operational in Gulmarg from January 2009. The institute now has its own building and all modern equipment and training facilities for adventure sports. Various adventure courses have also been started and are being run by this institute.
The National Institute of Water Sports, another organisation of MoT based in Goa, is getting a new building and facilities upgraded for training in water sports activities.
The Ministry is also working with the Indian Mountaineering Federation and Adventure Tour Operators Association of India to explore positioning India as an Adventure Destination.
The Government of India has given security clearance for the opening of 104 additional peaks in Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, subject to stipulations and clearances from concerned authorities. The opening of the additional peaks will help in positioning the Indian Himalayas as a premium adventure tourism destination.
— Kashmir Pivot (@KashmirPivot) July 24, 2017
ATOAI has adopted certain measures to promote community tourism and position India as the largest adventure travel destination in the world. “The main agenda is to help India become a 12-month tourism destination through adventure travel,” stated an ATOAI official.
“From mostly a mountain and wildlife destination, the country now offers much more: Skiing, water rafting, treks, road trips, off-road adventure, biking, cycling, scuba diving, river cruising, angling, bungee jumping, ballooning, caving, birding, adventure parks, nature retreats, culture, food, mountaineering and more. At any given time of the year, one can do most of these at some location in the country,” Kumar added.
Leh and Ladakh, Goa, Spiti Valley, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Rishikesh, Andaman and Nicobar are some of the popular adventure tourism destinations in India, with new ones emerging every day.