Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chandigarh needs comprehensive tourism policy

ny city, in order to qualify, as an international tourism destination, needs several essential factors, but foremost is its visual appeal.  Of course, this does require trained manpower at all touch points to manage the people who are out to explore a city, with requisite supportive infrastructure and clear information.  
Neelam Theatre in Sector 17 at dusk. (c) CJ Singh
Chandigarh may look visually appealing in the day-light and that too at only certain tourist places, but largely, for an unaided tourist driving into the city, it looks unappealing with no visual attraction in most of the other Sectors, since the rear portion of most houses or commercial buildings with back lanes, unkempt shrubs, building waste, etc. would confront any first time visitor. 
On the other hand, the MC's advertising display policy, surprisingly, does not allow businesses to thrive and advertise their presence, thanks to the building bye-laws that have long since been obsolete. 
The city needs a comprehensive tourism policy which can help not only the local business to thrive, but increase the commercial activity that could ensure better standards of life for the residents, as well as more revenue for the Administration to upkeep its public tourist places.  Over the last several years, there had hardly been any substantial increase in the inflow of tourists, primarily because many of the events that can attract foreign tourists do not get to know of it in the absence of its listing on national/international tourism calendars, 
The policy should encompasss right from training to information management, signage, lighting of important monuments and buildings, displays and sculptures, etc. 
Regular training of personnel manning all touch points for tourists right from the waiter in Shatabadi, or a porter and rickshawala at the bus stand/railway station, reception desk in hotels, to guides .  It requires training of cab and 3-wheeler drivers, and those fulfilling the international standard of quality of service and maintenance of their vehicles should get a special badge/sticker to display on their vehicle so that the tourists could use those certified vehicles only. 
The rickshaws should be restricted to ply only on certain routes within the sectors and intra-sectors through internal roads (V3 to V6 only), instead of using the V2, V1, or V roads. 
For a new visitor, entering the city through any mode presents a drab and uninteresting feel. The airport and railway station should be more inviting with tourism hoardings inviting the tourists to key destinations. 
During the day light, the architectural beauty in the northern sector is of course, provides a visual delight but at night, none of these buildings or monument have artistic lighting to make them appealing.  
Buddha Park behind Sukhna Lake. (C) CJ Singh. .
The Buddha peace park behind the Sukhna Lake is a visual delight only at night, though it is other thing, that many a times when I took some guests from abroad to the place in the evening, the spot lights were not working, and there was no one at the place or any information counter where one could contact someone and ask for the blackout. 
The reason is simple. For most of us, it is just a job. I may not switch on/off the lights because it does not concern me. I had a flat tyre. I did not feel like coming. I had to go with my wife for picking up vegetables. And you can hear all of these one time or the other.  None of the officials on the ground I have talked to at various public places, have an answer. Mostly they are absent. And if they are there, their excuse revolves around their own self, and not on the fact, that how much their action impacts the impressions of the city, its administration, and its people, on the visitors.
It may appear herculean task but is doable, given the will, the strategic systematic approach and execution which is possible only through a comprehensive tourism policy

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