The potential for CSR in Indian tourism is immense since India is full of tourism sites which are either undiscovered, undeveloped or developed but not maintained.
Possibilities for CSR in Indian tourism
CSR activities for companies may include organizing cultural events around tourism sites or creating infrastructure for cultural events. Corporate houses could run campaigns for responsible conduct among people in the area where they operate.
The Planning Commission of India has recognized tourism as a pro-poor and nation building activity in the 12th Five-Year Plan document. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) could also include promoting tourism entrepreneurs in rural areas for income generation.
Partnership with State governments
The government alone cannot be effective in acting for all such sites. CSR projects can adopt famous sites for management and maintenance in Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode with Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government.
Most of the state governments—barring a few like Kerala and Kutch — are yet to fully encash their tourism potential mostly due to lack of knowledge. Companies, under their CSR obligation, can work with state governments for conducting research and knowledge dissemination in order to get them into action mode. In the second stage, the companies can use their management expertise to handhold state governments for planning and implementing tourism projects.
Adopt a heritage site
With a view to protect the monuments, the government has asked corporate houses and public sector companies to adopt buildings with “world heritage” tag and maintain them under their CSR programmes, announced union tourism minister Prahlad Singh Patel last year.
Under Adopt a Heritage programme, jointly initiated by the ministry of tourism and ministry of culture, private and public sector companies are encouraged to adopt heritage sites and other tourist sites for the development of tourist amenities. The adoptive companies become ‘Monument Mitras’ and provide advanced amenities for the tourist destinations. They also look after the operations and the maintenance of the amenities. In return, the ‘Monument Mitras’ get the visibility on the site’s premises and Incredible India website.
Dalmia Bharat Group has adopted the historical Red Fort for a whopping INR 25 crores and the 13th-century Gandikota Fort in the Grand Canyon of India. The SBI Foundation has obtained the rights to maintain the Jantar Mantar in Delhi while travel company Yatra has adopted the Qutub Minar, the temples of Hampi, the Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra and Stok Palace in Leh.
It looks like CSR in Indian tourism is finally taking off, and the future is bright for the first movers.