The Development of Social Tourism in India

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Social Tourism in India

Hunziker refers to social tourism as a phenomena that encourages the participation in travel ‘by the economically weak or otherwise disadvantaged elements in the society’ hence, it is generally accepted that social tourism aims to guarantee the right to holidays and access to tourism for all social classes, particularly those with limited resources (1957). Based on its public nature, it seems predictable that the Government should be responsible for this in India. However, in the Asian context, it is generally seen that the government fails to put in place definite policies to promote such tourism. This clearly shows evidence of lack of awareness, although in India some initiatives have definitely emerged over the years.

Position of social tourists & benefits

Tourism is one of the emerging industries capable of shaping the entire economic potential of a nation. India, an emerging market economy, is experiencing a substantial growth in the tourism industry with the sector contributing to a large proportion of the National income and generating huge employment opportunities. It accounts for 6.8% of their GDP making it the third largest foreign exchange earner while currently ranking 42nd in the UNWTO rankings for foreign tourist travels (Turner, 2015).

India is a democratic country which means that the government has played a significant role in tourism development however, the right to travel by the disadvantaged has been rather low on the agenda (Verna, 2015). This is because, social tourism is a relatively new phenomenon that is more popular in Europe and has only began to develop in India. The concept, social tourism encompasses a broad range of activity from welfare tourism, voluntourism to accessible tourism that policies directly aimed at this sector still remains relatively unclear. Evidence suggests that social tourism is an extension of tourism through the integration of welfare policies to ensure that everyone is entitled to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay (Diekmann & McCabe, 2011).
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Based on Hunziker’s explanation, India does have social tourists. These include the elderly, the poor children and families, the working population, the disabled and the youth population. Social tourism aims to benefit India economically in the sense that visitors get the opportunity to visit rural/slums, volunteer, purchase items as well as sightseeing. On the other hand, Hazel suggests that these policies would benefit the disadvantaged and socially excluded individuals and families more in the sense that, it helps relief from stressful or mundane situations and a break from routine and the encouragement of social interaction (2005).


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