|Introduction: Contextual introduction.|
Body: Explain some multidimensional benefits associated with the Centre’s push for riverine tourism.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.
Recently the Prime Minister has launched the MV Ganga Vilas from Varanasi. The luxury 51-day cruise will be operated in partnership with private players by the Inland Waterways Authority. It will traverse several states, two countries and make stops at about 50 tourist and heritage sites along the Ganga and Brahmaputra river systems.
Multidimensional benefits of riverine tourism:
- The tourism sector is labour-intensive and can provide some of the formal jobs and job diversification that a transitioning Indian economy so desperately needs.
- The global River cruise market has grown at ~5% over the last few years and is expected to constitute ~37% of the cruise market by 2027.
- Promotion of river tourism can help in preservation of natural environment and cultural heritage of the region.
- Its various contributions in terms of conservation of the river and its surrounding environment as well as creating opportunities for sustainable livelihood of the river-based community.
- Rivers constitute a major tourism resource, providing spectacular settings, recreation facilities, a means of transport, a sense of heritage and adventure, and links with the environment and natural world.
- The river cruise is expected to expand further with systematic forward and backward linkage for the economy, particularly across river banks, as capital expenditure is pumped to build capacity in inland waterways.
- Various activities like river cruises, water sports like sailing and rafting and the riverbank landscape contributes to the development of places along its banks.
The Ganga cruise, though, should be just a beginning in tapping the unrealised potential of India’s numerous and diverse river systems for tourism. It must take into account the best practices from around India and the world, while ensuring local communities and the environment are not given short shrift.