Tourism & Culture: The Correlation

Your culture is your brand

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By Prof. (Dr.) SP Bansal (Vice Chancellor, IGU, Haryana)  Correlation – a quantity measuring the extent of the interdependence of variable quantities. Many of you must have stopped to think “hey I thought I was reading an article about culture and tourism why am I reading something related to math”. Well, I’m sorry to be the one to break it down for you but guess what! Math can actually be applied in real life situations. I know I know that we all thought that it’s useless and can never be applied in our daily routine but it can. Let me put it this way: correlation can be simply defined as relationship or connection between two or more things. And today we are going to discuss connection/correlation between tourism and culture. Culture is an attraction for the tourist and people involved in seeking these attractions lead to tourism.

Cultural tourism is a subset of tourism. It is not a new concept rather it is primordial. It has gained recognition in recent years because of a shift in interests of tourist from leisure to knowledge. Curiosity is what drives people and the curiosity to know and learn more about a destination has led to an increase in the number of people travelling for cultural knowledge. An important question that is usually left unanswered is what all comes under culture? Cultural tourism is applied to a wide range of activities. When we talk about culture a number of images come to our mind such as art, lifestyle, architecture, religion, festivals etc. This is the answer to the above question. Culture comprises of all these things. It comprises of all those things that shaped the way of life of people living in an area. The next question that comes to mind is where to see all these things. Here is where the role of tourism comes along. Museums! Galleries! Rural areas! Urban areas! Festivals! Historical sites – all these things showcase the culture of a place. A foreign tourist visiting a foreign land knowingly or unknowingly engages himself in the culture of the host country. Unknowingly a tourist may engage in activities such as bargaining because he sees other people bargaining, trying out new food, removing shoes and covering their head while visiting a place of religious importance, returning the gesture of Namaste when welcomed at an airport or hotel. We can say that culture is dependent on tourism in a way that if people from other places and lands do not visit a place then the culture of that place remains confined within the geographical boundaries of that place thus making culture dependent on tourism to provide the audience. In the same way, we can say that if a place is not rich in culture then the place may eventually become boring on the failure of providing something unique to the tourist and this makes tourism dependent on culture.

Let us discuss few examples. Dalhousie is a hill station in Himachal Pradesh. The tagline of Dalhousie goes something like “walking is the fashion in the hill not driving”. Now, this simple line promotes a number of things. Firstly it influences the visitors or the tourist to adopt the “walk culture” of the town. In that way, it is promoting eco-friendly tourism by making people walk instead of drive thus limiting the amount of noise and air pollution. Let us look at some other example. Srinagar, a beautiful breathtaking valley of Kashmir. Now one might wonder what kind of culture we are going to talk about here. Well to answer that let me put it this way, locals of Srinagar believe in furniture less home. The benefit of that is that they are firstly limiting the use of wood thus resulting is less deforestation plus it occupies less space. Many people who visit Srinagar adopt this kind of living. They may not completely have furniture-less house but they might get a furniture-less room.

Education is something that makes a so-called human being more human. Education paves the way and provides a bridge to narrow our differences and gaps. Education is what tells us that we are one and the same in different sizes and colors. Once a person knows that this world and the people that live in it are one then the person no longer feels confined to the boundaries of his/her personal space. Such a person accepts the fact of differentiation in human beings in a way that it unites him with other people. By travelling such a person experiences a whole new place on a whole new level. And even though he is new to a place he finds that he is not alone. He sees an opportunity to learn and know about that place and confide in it. And this huge step of knowing, accepting and loving can only be achieved through tourism.

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