Tourism is more than fun and games for the Host country
That is me up there with an Indian map and an incredible India T-shirt. I had it as my Facebook profile picture for sometime. As innocent as it may sound, I was doing my part in promoting tourism to India.
Living in Europe for over 6 years, I was sure I could reach out to a lot of new connections with a simple photo update.
I always knew that a trip to India is for the adventurous folk. Learnt that from living in various cities across the South and the North of India. Trips to Agra, Rajasthan or any of the other popular tourists destinations in North India can surround you with hoards of hawkers and agents trying to sell you some thing. Usually, some one with limited people experience, would end up making some bad money decisions.
Looking at it, in a country with so much to offer the tourists would always arrive. But the short term thinking by Indians hoping to profit from these tourists is very sad.
Recently, with the demonetization of larger Indian currency, loads of foreign tourists with cash are forced to exchange them with agents asking for commissions over 40%. In other words, 100 € should give you around 7200 rupees apart from commission deduction by money transfer companies.
Assuming you get the best deal of 7200 rupees, you are now left loosing 40% of all larger currency that you urgently need to convert. Even if, you had 2200 rupees in 100s and wanted to exchange the other 5000 rs.
You would loose 2000, leaving you with only 5200 rupees instead of 7200. This was a very optimistic calculation assuming that these tourists had 2200 rupees in cash of 100s. Even more optimistic would be some one telling me that the sudden deflation caused should allow them to enjoy more with their little money.
Shit has hit the fan now, and I am expecting a drop in tourists for the New Years. Nonetheless, with criticism like mine, I am very confident that the authorities will act and quickly resolve these silly issues to make India a much better place for foreign tourists in the future.
Empowering them with cash less transfer, eliminating special extra bribes, healthy competition among tour operators, eliminating crony monopoly by gangs etc.
As I compare Indian tourism with Italian tourism, I understand that there is a lot of work to be done on the Indian side in making the tourists feel safer. But the troubles in India may actually be its unique selling point.
Not quoting any concrete research on this, and will stick to my own personal opinions based on people I have met who traveled to India. It helped them see life from a whole different perspective. They could witness a life of luxury as well as a life devoid of indulgence. This diversity among the classes, inspired from diverse philosophical beliefs may not make sense, until you return back to your country to become some one more self aware.
Travelling helps, good or bad experiences are relative. You can be stranded on an Indian highway, only to hitch hike with a trucker to one of the traditional Indian Dhabas, where you can relish some of the best tasting Indian food in the most original manner.
Enjoying delicious Naan-Parathas, with a choice in spicey chicken, farm fresh vegetables and dal, accompanied by green chillies and thinly sliced onions with lemon juice and pepper sprinkled on top. When you are done with your meal, you could have some nice butter milk served in a bronze tumbler, to help you digest while you nap on something like this:
If you plan on driving more, you need to relax after that big yummy meal which could look something like this if you like chicken:
or like this if you love veggies: