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Conserving for the future

With an aim to put the Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA) in the limelight, and take heritage tourism to the masses, the first annual convention of IHHA witnessed participation of 65 owners as well as tour operator from across the country. By Heena Mahajan

Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA) was formed in 1990 and it is a known fact that heritage hotels have successfully given a new dimension to world tourism. The first annual convention of the association, supported by Incredible India, a Government of India campaign was held in Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore on September 21-22, 2012 along with the 11th annual general meeting. The focus of the convention was on the role of rural and natural heritage in tourism development.

Points that need attention
  • Air connectivity (more air stripes)
  • An additional cess that has been imposed on the hotels in Ranthambore itself which were already existing

As many as 64 heritage properties were represented from different chapters of IHHA. The convention opened with Rakesh Srivastava, principal secretary tourism, Rajasthan elaborating on the focus of the convention and stressed on the fact that heritage hotels have long been responsible to curb migration from the rural areas to cities and it is high time that the government realises the importance of giving quality services and infrastructure to the staff and these hotels. He said that the state government can and should play an active role in promotion of heritage tourism citing examples of Kerala and, more recently Gujarat. This was followed by the presidential address by Gaj Singh, president, IHHA informing the audience that IHHA has as many as 179 members with increasing number of properties becoming a part of the fraternity. “In the past two decades heritage hotels have been able to promote development of rural areas in which they are located. It would not be out of place to state with conviction that hotels have generated substantial economic activities and created jobs for rural youths. Needless to say that these properties have also been an important source of foreign exchange earnings in the otherwise backward regions. Availability of quality power was yet another area where heritage properties would get a tremendous boost,” said Gaj Singh.

Bina Kak, minister of tourism, Rajasthan inaugurated the exhibition on the occasion. She also released the IHHA Guide Book which provides details of the heritage hotels. Later, the general manager of Hotel Jaipur Ashok spoke on Generation of Employment Through Skill Development (Hunar Se Rozgar). It was followed by 'Campaign Clean India' by TW Sudhakar, director, India Tourism.

Statewise IHHA membership
Himachal Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal

Operating Hotels (non-classified)
At Project/ Planning stage




The session on promotion of rural heritage and rural development brought to light the fact that tourism is an economic driver and an employment generator, and in a vast country with multi-dimensional tourist attractions at different places, substantial efforts are required to be made by the central and state governments to attract tourists. The session stressed on the concept of the association to preserve heritage properties from decay. Better connectivity, more air strips and abolishing multiple taxes is the need of the hour. “Most of these properties are owner driven, and this way it becomes quite difficult for us to maintain them. We appeal to the government to provide better infrastructure and quality services in the state of Rajasthan so that we can lure more tourists — both inbound and do mestic,” said Gajendra Singh, Khimsar. Gaj Singh highlighted, “Its time that we have our own heritage mart soon, we are already in talks with the state government.”

The panel discussion on the role of natural heritage tourism for sustainable wildlife conservation brought to light the need to conserve natural heritage. Rajasthan is a state that has earned large chunk of revenues out of its vast natural heritage. The resources are being over utilised. Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, Suhail Gupta, CEO, &Beyond India, who was also one of the panelists said, “Everywhere we have responsible tour operators. There is a need to come up with a master plan so that while saving on the operational costs of these lodges, we can also work on maintaining a discipline around these areas.” Balendu Singh, owner, Devvilas stressed on the need to revive religious tourism and take it to another level. “Every community in Rajasthan has its own traditions, and if we mix it up with tourism we can conserve not only our parks and the tigers, but also the vast expanse of wildlife in these areas.”

Speaking on the recent ban on tiger tourism in the core areas and how South India coped with it, KK Singh, one of the panelists said, “Kerala, as an example, strategically declared their new buffer and core areas before the amendment was announced. Rajasthan realised it pretty late and that how it is by far, the most affected state.” The sessions concluded with the association's plans to work together as one entity and start a movement to encourage responsible heritage tourism.

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