(Prof. Nimit Chowdhury, Head of the Department of Tourism, Hotel, Hospitality and Heritage Studies of Jamia Millia Islamia, speaks to Atul Anand of Centre for Culture, Media & Governance, JMI.)
Q: What do you think about the relationship between tourism and the wider creative industry?
A: Tourism has come to a stage where it has essentially become a creative industry. It is no more about sight-seeing, it is more about experiences which are abstract which can be creatively delivered. This change is already taking place. We need to understand and appreciate that tourism is a creative industry. Standard itineraries, standard sightseeing circuits have either vanished or reduced in economic value. It should be our aim to work on a tourist’s experiences. It’s a challenge to provide an immersive experience of a place to the tourists creatively.
Q: Tourism and hospitality industry have often been implicated in ecological damage of sensitive ecosystems. What sort of recommendations would you like to make at a policy level that would make tourism and hospitality industries more sustainable and eco-friendly?
A: Tourism and hospitality industry do less ecological damage compared to other industries. There is a huge discussion on sustainable and responsible tourism. Creativity can solve the issue of ecological damage caused by tourism. Slow-tourism is one example where a tourist spends time at a sight according to its rhythm. A tourist would explore more eco-friendly options during slow-tourism. There is a recent phenomenon of over-tourism, there are places where people no longer want tourists. Tourism increases the cost of living for the local residents in such areas. The host communities are increasingly facing problems.
Q: What would be according to you would be the ideal form of regulatory framework with respect to the creative industry in India?
A: I think there should not be attempts to regulate creativity. We do not need a regulatory framework. We need some regulatory protection regimes such as patents, copyrights, etc. It’s not possible to regulate creativity. The government can regulate tourism but not creativity.
Q: What are the challenges that are faced by new entrants when entering into the domain of the creative industries in India especially travel and tourism?
A: The first challenge is that people in the tourism industry don’t realize that tourism is a creative industry. People in the industry focus more on economic itineraries than quality experiences. There should be competition regarding intangibles such as experiences. This is a challenge that the industry is competing for tangibles rather intangibles. This way out is that we focus on intangibles.
Q: What could be your suggestions for fostering creative economy in India from the perspective of larger tourism sector?
A: Our education system doesn’t promote innovation and entrepreneurial creativity. It should be changed. There are cultural issues too. Creative ideas and failures are less accepted in our culture and society.