“Amongst various travel trends, spiritual and religious tourism has been growing in India at an unprecedented rate. Spiritual and Religious tourism today has almost 60 percent share in the total domestic tourist visits within India, which means that out of 180 crore domestic tourist visits, recorded during 2018, more than 100 crore visits by Indians were for religious and spiritual purposes.
It is not only Indians who are travelling to popular pilgrimage sites, the International travellers are also travelling to India, now in larger number, for spiritual and religious retreat.
Yoga, an integral component of Spiritual & Wellness tourism has also become one of the major attractions for International travellers. Announcement by United Nations in 2015, to celebrate 21st June every year, as International Yoga Day, has resulted in greater inflow of Yoga travellers into India.
Ministry of Tourism being aware of the virtues of spiritual tourism has sanctioned more than Rs. 800 crores worth of projects under Swadesh Darshan Scheme for spiritual circuits in various States. Ministry has also created Ramayan, Krishna and Buddha Circuits under which huge amount of money is being invested to develop tourism infrastructure around the religious destinations falling under these circuits. PRASHAD is another flagship scheme of the Ministry which is solely aimed to rejuvenate pilgrimage and to augment the spiritual heritage of our country. So far more than Rs. 700 crores worth of projects have been sanctioned in large number of PRASHAD cities.
In order to draw optimal benefits of our strongest USP, it is necessary that we build ‘tourist friendly ecosystems’ around spiritual and religious destinations. Ease of access, Direct connectivity, Ease of travel, Good Tourism infrastructure and Tourist friendly facilities will enhance the visits of domestic and international travellers considerably. We also need to address the issues of maintaining hygiene and cleanliness, preventing exploitation of pilgrims, ensuring safety and security of visitors (including safety from natural calamities), providing good lodging and fooding for all sections of travellers and creating facilitation centres at these destinations.
In order to provide boost to Yoga Tourism, the National Medical and wellness Tourism Board under Ministry of Tourism should bring in its priority agenda, issues related to facilitation and promotion of Yoga Tourism, that could include Setting up of Task Force; Constructing database and Online directory of Yoga & Wellness Centres/ Meditation Camps in the country and to develop robust mechanism of Certification and Accreditation of Yoga service providers.”
It was a pleasure to be at Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the world on 21st June 2019, the International Yoga Day, to address Travel and Tourism fraternity at ‘International Conference on Religious, Pilgrimage, Wellness & Spiritual Tourism’ and to celebrate International Yoga Day, on the banks of Holy Ganga at India Travel Mart.