Academic journal article IUP Journal of Management Research

A Study of Cultural Tourists' Perceptions of Three Sacred Destinations of Eastern Uttar Pradesh Region, India

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Management Research

A Study of Cultural Tourists' Perceptions of Three Sacred Destinations of Eastern Uttar Pradesh Region, India

Article excerpt

Introduction

People around the world are fascinated by the rich cultural wealth and heritage of India (Singh et al., 2012). Indian civilization is believed to be over 5,000 years old. It has been enriched by consecutive migrations from other religions and geographies of the world, which were later absorbed into the Indian way of life. The cultural past of these religions is now reflected in the cultural heritage and architectural splendors of India (Bandyopadhyay et al., 2008).

Researchers around the world observed cultural activities, such as arts and heritage, as the main reasons for travel (Mitrut and Constantin, 2009; and OECD, 2009). Every year, a colossal number of individuals travel around the world to recognize, experience, and comprehend the culture of their own or of other civilizations. In India, a majority of the population still consider travel and tourism for fun, pleasure and recreation as an elite five-star activity. At the same time, travel and tourism for cultural purposes is an integral part of the Indian life. People from all the demographics often manage time and resources for cultural tourism (Mishra, 2013).

Cultural tourism brings people together. People from diverse locales, races, religions, and civilizations get an opportunity to meet and understand each other. Through cultural tourism, domestic tourists experience the breadth and depth of their own cultural wealth. They often visit such far-offplaces of their nation which are otherwise not visited. Foreign tourists visit the cultural destinations of a nation to comprehend and experience the civilization and heritage of the host nation. In a diverse and vivid country like India, cultural tourism also builds the feeling of nationalism and fortifies the message of 'unity in diversity'.

Tourism is essentially a service-based industry and the principal product offered by tourism industry is experience and hospitality (Kumar, 2010; and Dasgupta, 2011). The tourism industry is one of the key sectors of earnings for India (Ganesh, 2014). Tourism plays a key role in the socioeconomic progress through the creation of jobs, development of enterprise, infrastructure, and earnings of revenue. The Planning Commission of India identified tourism as the second largest sector in providing employment opportunities for low-skilled workers in the country (MOT, 2012). Tourism directly generates jobs in its own sector as well as in connected sectors of the economy (via indirect and induced effects). Travel and tourism directly create employment opportunities in hotels, restaurants, airlines, travel agencies, passenger ships, etc. On the other hand, as a result of the spread effect, it creates jobs in industries like construction, telecommunication, manufacturing, and retail trade (Mishra and Ojha, 2014).

Uttar Pradesh is among the most popular destinations of the country. Uttar Pradesh is consistently among the top three states of India in terms of foreign tourist arrivals and top four states of India in terms of domestic tourist visits. Uttar Pradesh is blessed with a number of sites that have a link to Vedic and Puranic period, including Ayodhya, Vrindavan, Mathura, Varanasi, Prayag, Chitrakoot, etc. The two great epics of India, The Ramayan and The Mahabharat, are also centered around today's Uttar Pradesh. Eastern Uttar Pradesh region is the most visited region of Uttar Pradesh. A colossal number of devotees from Hindu and Buddhist religions visit the cities of Allahabad, Varanasi, Kushinagar, Ayodhya, Sarnath, Saravasti, Gorakhpur, Kaushambi, Kapilvastu, etc. The Sangam city, Allahabad is the most prominent cultural tourism destination of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, followed by Ayodhya, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Sarnath and Kushinagar (Uttar Pradesh, 2012). The present paper mainly examines the perception of cultural tourists of three destinations of Eastern Uttar Pradesh region (i.e., Allahabad, Varanasi and Kushinagar).

Literature Review

The word 'culture' is derived from the Latin word 'cultura' meaning 'cultivation' and refers to cultivation of soil in agriculture (Ivanovic, 2008). …

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