Is “Tourism” promoting Colonisation?

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Rural Tourism in India

Is “Tourism” promoting Colonisation?

How and why?

It is more than just a hypothetical theory to say that the word “Tourist” has a wider definition than the whole concept of Tourism. The word was commonly in use way before the word “Tourism” came into existence. So, the concept of tourism is merely an amendment of how people define “Tourists”.

The common proverb in India ” Atithi Devo Bhava”, that has become the sanctum of Tourism in India nowhere defines Tourism. The concept of Tourism has more realistic existence in terms of market fundamentalism of today’s neo-liberal era. Today it has become a symbol of the dominance of one’s culture upon the other. It has become a source of spreading colonization all over the world indirectly inspiring and influencing the extinction of cultural diversity. Tourism as a social phenomenon is not shaping with the changing culture, social practices, and globalized economy but in fact, is adversely implementing the change. It is the colonization of western culture gradually pushing the other culture into the category of ethnic, primitive and reserved. As a result, most of those cultures have turned into tourism products and are now reserved only for the events, stages, and showcases.

Places you will never find the Definition of Tourism in India.

Tourism in India is more like an uncontrolled flow of religious people visiting Ghats, Mandirs, and Masjids. Here the concept of Atithi-Devo Bhava is and was nowhere applicable. A sense of equality is seen among the crowd that doesn’t differentiate people according to their culture and class. No one is Athithi but a disciple or a follower in the crowd. The definition of Tourism products and Services in terms of the international and market standards does not match in such type of tourism in India. The rooms with only basic needs with no western style toilets, fetch the travelers whose only purpose of the visit will be religious and spiritual. There is merely any significance of categorizing domestic and international tourists here. This type of Tourism, to define in today’s terms, is more primitive without any change, it stands out of the topic.

Tourism is a leisurely social practice since it rarely engages any earning activity. It is the true form of expenditure that does not build up any visible assets and liabilities in exchange. It is a business of anticipated experiences that should be delivered through all the five senses of Human nature. Beautiful view of nature and architecture, good food, different types of languages and music, unpolluted and fresh air to breathe and the feeling of cold in the Himalayas, the wetness of sea, and the warmth of Desert are all the products of Tourism. The question now remains is how Tourism is pushing the primitive cultures into a mere stage show? Well, it all starts with the arrival of ” Alternative Tourists”.

Who are “Alternative Tourists”?

The story begins with a remote village. The tradition and culture are nowhere in such a state that they need an up-gradation. People are still happy. The consumption of resources has not crossed the danger line. No one has ever matched their standard of living comparatively with any other standards. The standards that are always on a quest of delivering more and more. Then a traveler arrives who is like a fugitive hiding from the fear of imprisonment of modernity. He or she loves to travel back to the time where there are no targets, less competition, over-eating is a word that does not exist and yet more to arise every day.

The traveler who is more like an alien inspires them and opens a window of fantasy. The window shows things to the villagers they had never dreamt of. They realize that they live a hard and unhappy life, away from the basic health care facilities, uneducated, uncivilized, unhygienic, underpaid and many more things.

Then comes the realization that their culture and tradition is something they can sell in exchange to acquire that life of fantasy. The warm family rug converts into an elegant dining, that cozy room starts seeming congested and the traditional and cultural practices become outdated and vague.

What Happens then?

Following the traveler, who was a true Atithi ( Guest), an alternative tourist, a commercial crowd make their way. They bring their world of modernity along with them. So, now the villagers adopt the life of fantasy and keep their own under the curtains and hide them.  Their earlier life now becomes a product to sell, a drama for the theatre, all exclusive product for the money. Above all, you establish an Industry – Tourism.

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About Author

Babit Gurung

With his versatile experience ( IT, Jewelery Designer, Painter) Babit gurung is a passionate freelance creative writer currently working for different sectors as a Rural Development consultant and a trainer. His innovative works and projects aim for the holistic development of community and environment empowering them from every aspect of development. His works on rural tourism have created many examples in North Bengal, where his versatile knowledge in agriculture, marketing and writing have added more effective and result oriented approach to his work. By creating " Meaningful Travel India" Babit aims to change the concept of tourism into considering the tourists not as potential customers but as philanthropists, trainers, motivators and role players whose diverse expertise can also change the face of the society and world.

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