Udaipur Tourism

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Tourism has been highly touted as a route to the Development of a city or environment. It professes to bring much-needed revenue and employment to the inhabitants of the place, while simultaneously claiming to preserve its cultural, historical, or natural ‘attractions’.  These arguments are currently being used by the Rajasthan Government in its mission to expand tourism in the state (an estimated expenditure of nearly Rs.1,200 crore).  Because Udaipur and its surrounding villages are targets within this development plan, it is relevant and pressing to consider the influence these new policies/plans will have on the people of Udaipur, their economy, environment, culture and social relationships.             

The following background paper seeks to bring out critical points from the Rajiv Gandhi Tourism Development Mission for Rajasthan (the most current proposal on tourism development in Rajasthan), as well as to highlight pertinent information about tourism.  This article can be used as a starting point, from which to generate critical and creative ideas for the further exploration of tourism.  

The Plans of the Rajasthan Government
Annexure B in the Tourism Development Mission lists eight areas for which the growth of tourism in Rajasthan is important:  1.      Employment Generation
2.      Poverty Alleviation
3.      Empowerment of Women
4.      Survival of Rural Artists
5.      Upliftment of Rural Artists
6.      Improvement in Urban and Rural Infrastructure
7.      Better Image, Quality of Life & Attitude of People 8.      Revival of Traditions and Heritage Conservation & Management 9.       
These points form the comprehensive plan to uplift and empower the people of Rajasthan through an economy based in tourism – the largest growing industry in the world.[1]  This plan seeks to include urban and rural areas, as well as women, in increasing incomes, improving infrastructure, and encouraging full-spectrum participation.  

From this list, we can roughly draw four categories by which to understand tourism: a) tourism as an economic industry; b) the environmental implications of tourism; c) the effects of tourism on social relationships; and d) the impact of tourism on culture, arts and language.  These categories are not mutually exclusive; they overlap and interact in a variety of ways.  However, for the purpose of an initial analysis, we will try to break down the discussion into each category, in order to understand the goals, relevance and potential implications of each.  

Tourism as an Economic Industry
In putting forth the goals of employment generation and poverty alleviation, the Rajasthan Government is effectively viewing tourism as an economic industry.  The hope is that tourism will provide more jobs in the state, thereby distributing wealth and reducing poverty. Corporate incentives — such as the levying of industrial electricity rates, exemptions and reduction of taxes, interest subsidies, free land appropriation for site development, etc. — are being suggested to create a competitive and attractive market for growth.  By thus securing corporate involvement, World Bank loans, and other international and national bank loans, the Government is embracing the potential for an advanced model of tourism development —one which will enhance the flow of money into the economy and uplift the population through new labor and service market opportunities and incentives.  

In this regard, the Tourism Development Mission seeks to create new sectors of tourism and advance infrastructure, services and amenities. Desert tourism, adventure tourism, pilgrimage tourism, weekend tourism, road-side tourism, golf tourism, desert skiing, scooter adventures, water sports, film shooting, etc., are being developed.  By offering unique and novel tourism options and opportunities, the Mission anticipates an increase in the number of tourists frequenting Rajasthan, a greater draw from corporate interests, and a subsequent...
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