In the last one year the world has seen one of the most unprecedented times. From early March 2020 to March 2021, the World has come a full circle to overcome the pandemic. While the vaccine brings a ray of hope, but actual ground reality still looks bleak. Different sectors of industries have opened and gradually on a path to revive and recover, the golden days of the tourism industry look very different. Fortunate are some countries which have been able to recover, revive and grow amidst this crisis. A strong network has helped them open their gates to the global tourist.
However, a nation as diverse and populated like India has a tougher path to recover in tourism. While we patiently wait for the international flights to resume for non-essential purposes, our on-ground tourism fraternity needs support. We all understand that the tourism industry will take longer to revive and further long to grow. Unfortunately, many of our travel activity providers cum on-ground enablers have lost their jobs and need support. As part of the diverse South Asia landscape, City Explorers (Pvt Ltd) an organisation working in the arena of tourism brings awareness in responsible tourism experiences in the pandemic hit world. The larger intent is to organise similar activity across south Asian countries to engage residents and visitors.
To bring a sustainable change, City Explorers commenced a pan-India domestic tourism revival initiative led by the team of India City Walks. This initiative was aimed to bring a direct impact for the locals in different parts of the country. The initiative has been named as India City Walks Festival. It was conceptualised as a festival so that it brought that zest and fervour back in the minds of the people who have been reeling from the after-effects of the pandemic in the tourism world. In this endeavour, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Incredible India (Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India) had given their participation support to the India City Walks Festival (ICWF). The India City Walks Festival was also conceptualised keeping in mind ‘Vocal for Local’ and ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’ (self-sustainable India) mission of Hon’ble Prime Minister of the country. The India City Walks Festival is designed to cater to a post COVID-19 tourism world, particularly dedicated to the domestic tourism in India.
As a mandate to tourism revival, it became imperative to showcase the depth of cultural heritage of India through the medium of art, history, heritage, cuisine, textile, nature, handicrafts and much more.Designed and executed as a cultural festival, the focus was on heritage, monuments, nature & environment, history, tradition and city sightseeing destinations for walks, storytelling sessions, events, and experiences both on-ground and virtually. The festival as a platform reached out to the locals, provided them the interventions required for conducting heritage walks and other tourism experiences and also assured recognition with certificates and honorariums. The mixed use tourism environment is integrated with the norms of social distancing and yet bringing the best experiences together for the travellers was our focus. The intent was to bring amazing opportunities in the tourism sector through India City Walks Festival and encourage more people to participate in the activities and become hosts to showcase their neighbourhoods.
While the preparation for the Festival began from March 2020, the on-ground execution took place only in the months of January – March 2021. One of the biggest success stories of the IIndia City Walks Festival was that it was able to encourage and promote domestic destination exploration by the locals and for the locals. The city’s own residents showed immense enthusiasm to join the on-ground walks as much as they did for virtual events. India is a country that provides a story at every step; it makes cultural heritage experience possible at every nook and cranny. For most countries in South Asia this holds true, the countries if not known for cultural heritage, then are popular for their eco-destinations and scenic beauty. No matter what is the uniqueness, the people and their expectation of the tourism economy remains the same. They need support and intervention to be able to survive any crisis, to be able to grow in the months to come. The India City Walks Festival is just a stepping stone for a huge opportunity that remains untapped in other parts of the World. A festival as a medium to reach out to the people on-ground, provide them financial support, give them the right training so that we together can overcome the adverse impact of the pandemic. India City Walks Festival now awaits to open its World chapters through social imaginativeness of heritage exploration under flagship 'International City Walks’. We are seeing that the demand for travel experiences that resonate on a deeper emotional level is driving travel requirements.The traveller will have the flexibility to explore interesting community interactions that foster unique and engaging social travel moments. The itineraries will be designed keeping a local perspective and allow for authentic experiences involving rich cultural connections.
Ms Nidhi Bansal, who is the Chief Festival Director, quotes – “As an organization we are demonstrating leadership with exciting, attractive and equitable commitment to deliver an outstanding experience for residents and visitors in India by curating interactive city discovery programs. We sensitize citizens of all ages recognize the importance of India’s heritage by storytelling and celebrate their neighbourhood stories. Through India City Walks Festival we are looking forward to offering formal educational programs to help create the heritage workforce of the future. Our parent company City Explorers Pvt Ltd is focused on experiential tourism. We have a strategic portfolio of intellectual properties and a thorough branding process is undertaken to showcase our diverse tourism offerings”.
For more information on the India City Walks Festival you can contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org
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