Take a step further from announcing its intention of developing ten tourism centres in India as ‘Iconic Tourism site’ through holistic infrastructure and skill development – besides ramping up facilities at 100 important tourism sites under ASI to turn them in to ‘Aadarsh monuments’ (model monuments) – in the union budget, central government has now unveiled the coveted list of monuments that have made the cut.
The focus is clearly on revamping heritage and eight of the ten monuments in the list are from the category. The Golden Triangle has its half of the total share of monuments, with Delhi featuring three monuments. The Red Fort, Qutab Minar, and Humayun Tomb have been included. Agra’s Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri have also been selected as ‘Iconic Sites’.
Home to the remains of the world’s oldest port, Dholavira, and iconic Somnath Temple have been shortlisted from Gujarat. Others that have made the list include Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh and Hampi and Mahabalipuram in Karnataka, besides Amer Fort in Rajasthan.
The development is especially good news for Hampi. Being an important centre of tourism in the state, augmentation of facilities around the Hampi complex will help ease the overdependence on the mining sector and provide additional means of employment for the local populace. Incidentally, the move comes two years after the state government had proposed inking an agreement with Machu Picchu in Peru to develop them as sister heritage sites. Hopefully, the effort will gain added momentum with the announcement.
Taking stock of the announcement, the industry has repeatedly egged the government to do more in the realm of heritage conservation and promotion. Government’s decision to overwhelmingly focus on the heritage segment would come as a welcome development for stakeholders.
Also, India’s tourism has often suffered due to over dependence on a handful of destinations and products, and any aberration in trend leaves the industry with little to fall back on, causing a dent in business. Now, with ten destinations being developed as ‘Iconic destinations’, featuring world-class infrastructure and amenities, it is expected that Indian stakeholders will have more to market and attract the world’s attention towards, keeping businesses steady and more insulated from upheavals, man-made or otherwise.