Rajasthan forms a UNESCO ecosystem of its own with more links to the organization than any other State in India. Rajasthan is a leader in the promotion of culture in a sustainable and equitable manner. UNESCO is currently engaged with the State in several collaborations. Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan and UNESCO have been working in collaboration for the promotion of intangible heritage and developing cultural tourism in Western Rajasthan in districts of Jodhpur, Barmer, Bikaner and Jaisalmer. This project has continued even during the Covid-19 pandemic. The idea is to develop cultural hubs that will enable culture-based community tourism. It will also help in creating an enabling environment for stable livelihood in the villages for the artisans. This was informed by Director, UNESCO New Delhi Office, Mr. Eric Falt. He was addressing a webinar on ‘Leveraging Heritage for Sustainable Development of Tourism’ on the eve of World Heritage Day. It was organized by FICCI Rajasthan State Council. The webinar was moderated by Head, FICCI Rajasthan State Council, Mr. Atul Sharma.
Mr. Eric Falt also informed that a book “Incredible Treasures” of all 38 Indian World Heritage Sites in being prepared by UNESCO and would be released during June 2021. He also showed a sneak glance of the book during the webinar.
Secretary, Art, Literature, Culture, Archaeology, Science & Technology, Government of Rajasthan, Ms. Mugdha Sinha said that people need to put in the center of conservation and preservation of heritage. Consumers of heritage today are looking for experiences and creating memories. To get repeat tourists to a monument one needs to create novelty through hands-on, crowd, food and beverage or opulence experiences. Things like – ramps, railings, toilet facilities, inquiry, brochures etc. need to be designed aesthetically.
Commissioner, Rajasthan Foundation, Mr. Dhiraj Srivastava said that there is a need to build tourism on the foundation of cultural heritage and transform the lives of artisans. There has been a significant transformation in the way people explore new places. Modern-day tourists are looking for soul searching and fulfilling travel experiences. There is a need to focus on community-led and community benefiting tourism experiences.
Executive Director, HRH Group of Hotels, Mr. Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar said “There is an abundance of heritage in the country, we need to stop being indifferent towards it. The various facets of segments of heritage need to be brought to life and shared with from people across the globe.”
Travel Writer, UK, Ms. Aline Dobbie said that Covid has made the tourism industry stop and think. The trickle-down effect in tourism is immense. The Government should employ those enthusiastic determined and passionate. Similarly, travellers must be encouraged to travel more sustainably and respectfully.
Dr. Punita Singh from the Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan said that the representing team of UNESCO has continued to work during the pandemic and carried forward to the 4 districts to work on the intangible heritage project. Apart from this, the new tourism policy covers conservation of heritage, craft and cuisine, ecotourism, etc. and work has already begun in the respective areas.
Managing Trustee, Jaipur Virasat Foundation, Ms. Rima Hooja said that monuments and heritage sites need to be conserved sensitively. Too much repair, rebuilding and modernization must not be done to take away from the authentic experience. There should be online-offline joint action to sustain local interest. Also, funding needs to be increased for the preservation of the monuments.
Co-Chairman, FICCI Rajasthan State, Council & CMD, Mandawa Hotels, Mr. Randhir Vikram Singh said that Rajasthan has a rich culture and architectural heritage. There is a need to create awareness for its conservation. Tourism has been a difficult space for the past 1 year and the recent spike has further delayed recovery. However, we must prepare ourselves for the future as well as focus on rural areas for a wider dispersal of tourism.
The vote of thanks was delivered by Advisor, FICCI Rajasthan State Council, Mr. Ajay Singha.