Monday, June 06, 2005

Better Highways + better cars = road trip tourism boom

Road trips were known only in the US. In India road trips are a chore with barely any joy in driving. Earlier road trips meant bus trips and usually for pilgrimages. The pilgrimage and native place type of travel has been steadily giving way to the pleasure and weekend destination
traffic. The only deterrent to this was uncomfortable bus journeys or bad roads to take vehicles out on. But with the advent of the GQ, road trips will see a surge. Even with a partial completion of the GQ, there is a large number of people who take their car out on weekends.

After struggling through the weekdays in crawling city traffic, weekends are the time to drive without stress. Enter the GQ. The stretches of highway which have been upgraded to 4 lane carriage ways are a joy to drive. These "customised to India freeways" are the best thing on highways in India.

With ever larger number of cars with better engines and speeds competing for spaces in cities, weekends are the time to stretch these out. The other fallout of this trend is the ever ongoing discovery of "undiscovered" hill stations and tourist spots. If everybody in the city ( for instance Bombay/Pune to Lonavla or Madras/Bangalore to Ooty) make a beeline to the respective destinations, it means these places get crowded. Hence, the craze for "undiscovered" and less touristy locations.

We stopped by a mango market just after Dharmapuri (TN) where local mangoes of multiple varieties were available in the ranges of 8 to 15 rupees a kilo. The going rate for anything that looks like a mango in Bangalore is 4 times that. More road trips mean more opportunities in
h(m)otels, markets, facilities for the travellers apart from the mango markets like the one in Dharmapuri. Smaller tourist destinations will mushroom, opening another chapter in the tourist boom in India.

Tourism departments of states note, the only thing you need to promote a destination is good roads.

2 comments:

Ankan said...

I agree to what you say about Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) roads. I also agree that with better roads, many "undiscovered" hill stations and tourist spots would come to the spot light.

But what I do not agree is your last statement - "Tourism departments of states note, the only thing you need to promote a destination is good roads."

Tourism Industry in India needs to put up authoratative information about tourist places. There should be information about "How to Reach", "Where to Stay" etc. Most internet sites give half baked information. Worse still, some are copycats of other websites! And we do not get maps. The information is the key to explore "undiscovered places". So my take is, along with the roads, we also need: 1. Authoratative Information and 2. Maps (something like
Yahoo Maps or Mapquest). Just imagine, how many times we check with our friends, colleagues before visiting a place. And typically, we ask 'How is the road?', 'What is the route map?', 'Would I get lost?', 'Is it worth it?' or even 'Where do I stay?'...

But all is not that bad. Things are changing! One site which I have started visiting offlate before making any visit is Map My India. This site provides you with maps of a place just like the Mapquest or Yahoo Map of USA. It allows you to drill down to the street level (of a city), it is in the process of providing you with driving directions as well as tourist guides. It has categories like historical places, Nature, Hotels etc.

Recenty, I decided to visit Nandi Hill, a tourist place quite near to Bangalore. I used the maps and the driving directions given by
Map My India. I would say, I was quite happy with its information. And I presume that over a period of time, the site would get better!

Ankan said...

I agree to what you say about Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) roads. I also agree that with better roads, many "undiscovered" hill stations and tourist spots would come to the spot light.

But what I do not agree is your last statement - "Tourism departments of states note, the only thing you need to promote a destination is good roads."

Tourism Industry in India needs to put up authoratative information about tourist places. There should be information about "How to Reach", "Where to Stay" etc. Most internet sites give half baked information. Worse still, some are copycats of other websites! And we do not get maps. The information is the key to explore "undiscovered places". So my take is, along with the roads, we also need: 1. Authoratative Information and 2. Maps (something like
Yahoo Maps or Mapquest). Just imagine, how many times we check with our friends, colleagues before visiting a place. And typically, we ask 'How is the road?', 'What is the route map?', 'Would I get lost?', 'Is it worth it?' or even 'Where do I stay?'...

But all is not that bad. Things are changing! One site which I have started visiting offlate before making any visit is Map My India. This site provides you with maps of a place just like the Mapquest or Yahoo Map of USA. It allows you to drill down to the street level (of a city), it is in the process of providing you with driving directions as well as tourist guides. It has categories like historical places, Nature, Hotels etc.

Recenty, I decided to visit Nandi Hill, a tourist place quite near to Bangalore. I used the maps and the driving directions given by
Map My India. I would say, I was quite happy with its information. And I presume that over a period of time, the site would get better!