Development of Infrastructure and Growth of Tourism Tour Operators, Training of Tour Guides and Tour Operators, Season Specific and Destination Specific Tour Operation Part 3

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Tour Operators

The operation of tourism has now become a job of specialized nature. Day by day, it is becoming an uphill task for any single functionary to look after all segments of the management of tourism. The work of a tour operator for that matter is entirely different from that of a tour guide.

A tour operator has the job of managing the transport requirements, visa and permit clearance formalities, and booking of hotel accommodation for the tourists. Such a person must go on updating the information about latest changes made frequently in the concerned rules and regulations. A tour operator has to build up a working relationship with the personnel managing the booking of transport and hotel reservations at or close to the tourist sites. He must also know from where to hire tents and other equipment for an adventurous tourism.

Now days, a tour programme has to be decided much ahead of time. Those days are gone when one could start travelling anytime one wished for a business or leisure time tour. A group of tourists or even a single tourist has a pre-fixed schedule for touring. They have only a few days to spare in a particular month to visit the desired number of tourist places. Tourist destinations fail to meet the demands of a great number of tourists during peak season because of the rapid growth of modern tourism. A number of formalities are to be gone into on the part of a tour operator well in time. These include the prior booking of a seat or berth in airways, railways or roadways, and of a suitable accommodation in hotel or their alternatives whenever a tourist has to stay in a tourist area.

Tour operator can also help or guide to the proper route, discounts in fares, restriction on ticketing if any and the feasible duration of journey. Apart from cheap flights, a reliable tour agent looks for safe landing of their customers at favourable ports. If a tourist has special needs of any sort, as about food, travel insurance, photography of his interest, and confirmation of tickets by a preferred flight, they get it managed well in time.

Training of Tour Guides and Tour Operators

Each of these two jobs requires picking up necessary skills through regular training programmes as the first important step. Both of these functionaries further develop the skills by actually participating in the activity in the company of already trained personnel.

The trainees are then attached to a travel agency in order to get themselves equipped with details to function independently. It is the second most important step in this direction. Finally, each of them is asked to prepare a report on operation of tourism or guidance for a tourism activity for a specified area. In this third step, they undergo a test for becoming a qualified professional either as a tour guide or a tour operator. Rajasthan is as different from Himalayan region as are the coastal beaches from temples and cultural sites. So, these functionaries will be trained to perform for a specific need.

Travel Agency

The tour guides and tour operator or travel agents at the lower level and a tour manager at the highest level act as team members of a travel agency. In other words, the whole group of workers together make a travel agency. Each of them plays the assigned roles in catching hold of a tourist from his preparatory stage to duration of stay and departure for his homeland.

The agency directs its workers to attend to the enquiries of tourists prior to the start of travel to make their travel and stay comfortable and satisfying. It is also a forum to co-ordinate with another similar agency working in another area of tourist destinations. This role of a travel agency helps to prolong the stay of visitors eager for hoping from one cluster of sites to another. In the long run, it amounts to educating the tourists for exploring the rich potential of Indian tourism in one or more than one trips.

Travel agencies have their network all over the tourist areas and have means to supply every information by quickest mode of communication. They arrange for a package tour for a group along a circuit route providing for concessional transport, accommodation, and catering. This arrangement is especially helpful in difficult areas such as high Himalayas where few such facilities are available on the spot. The agencies contact on behalf of tourists, the concerned authorities for expediting the issue of permits, visa clearance certificate, and currency transactions. They look after the troublesome job for confirmation of long-distance transport managing connectivity between its one sector and another and local transport from air ports or railway stations to hotels.

Travel agencies so often act as a bridge between an interested tourist group and institutes taking up training in maintaining, skiing, heliskiing, and snorting etc. They are ready to give a helping hand to tourists for making purchases of local fabrics, handicrafts, and artefacts from genuine tourist rolling outlets or state emporia. The work of travel agencies is expanding as tourism itself is multiplying into a number of offshoots. The multifarious interest of tourists is the real cause. As a key intermediator, the travel agencies are forming contacts with dentists and institutes imparting Ayurvedic massage and Yoga training for promoting the new-found interest of tourists.

The tour manager looks after the operational working of travel agency at the supervisory level. It is part of their job to feel concerned with not only the routine management but also to strengthen the growing links with specialized institutes of diverse types. They monitor the whole range of work in order to supply necessary feedback to the agency. Such a feedback is in other words a data base. It helps to improve upon the management of tourism, covers up the gaps, and passes on the information to the Government agencies or departments for bringing about necessary changes in tourism policy from time to time.

Season Specific and Destination Specific Tour Operation

In contrast to the usual destination specific tour operations, certain areas are suited only for touring in specific seasons. Lahul-Spiti in the northern half of Himachal Pradesh comprising higher and deep interior of the Himalayas and Ladakh-Zaskar region of Kashmir tours such are examples. These are cut off from the main areas of the states by high snow blocked passes during their long and harsh winters. Really serious adventure loving tourists enter here only in short summer season. Although their harsh environment, bare but multi-colour rocks, and icy winds are inhospitable, these are suitable for touring in summer’s rainy months for another reason.

Lying in the rain shadow of the monsoon, they are favourable for travelling when southern parts of these states are lashed by the fury of heavy rainfall. Any tour operator is at an advantage for offering this landlocked area to a serious tourist during this part of the year. He can sell it for its peculiar cultural attraction. It is dotted with Buddhist monasteries at mountain top, overshadowed by snow clad ranges retaining their age-old architecture, wall paintings, and monastic legends.

These attractions compensate enough for difficulties of journeying and lack of good tourist facilities. Only the tourist should be ready for sharing the indigenous living with tribal families of the people.

Even annual pilgrimage of devotees to their chosen destinations of Amarnath in Kashmir, Badrinath, Kedarnath, and Hemkund in Uttaranchal in high Himalayas are also accessible only for summer season specific tour operation.

At the other end, in Andamans and Nicobar Islands, rainy season should be avoided. For that matter, a large chunk of southern India is the choice better for winter season tourists to enjoy its milder winter to escape the harsh winter of India’s northern plain. In such cases, tourist’s preference is season specific though one may be landed for one or more destinations. Sand dunes of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, its desert and camel festivals are meant for winter season touring. The destination bound tour operations are primarily marked by a choice to visit a particular place or a local area for their tourist attraction. Beaches of Goa, Kerala, and Puri along coasts of India are topmost tourist destinations because of their sands alongside placid seas, the waterways, backwater, and water sports. Similarly tour operations are destination specific when conducted for hill stations in Himalayas, central hill ranges, Western Ghats and Nilgiris. The travel and duration of stay are tuned to what attraction the hill destination offer.

In Brief, It Can Be Said That:

The development of infrastructural resources like an efficient transport network hotels hospitality service and various other amenities are keys for the management of modern tourism. The existence and growth of tourism, whether domestic or international, badly depends upon an increased accommodation of all categories to meet the rush of tourists to tourist places especially during busy peak times. There is the need to develop, air, water, and land transport, both for short distance and long-distance travel. Various alternative modes of transport are to be provided for use in an integrated manner so that the one may also supplement the other.

A sensitive service industry like tourism equally depends upon the efficient work of various tour functionaries like tour guides and tour operators adopting their jobs as trained professionals. Both these jobs are now getting distinctly well-defined and are of a specialised nature. These functionaries require undergoing a careful programme of training imparted in a series of steps before alluring them to interact effectively with tourists of diverse types.

A foreign tourist depends on a tour operator in the country of his or her visit right from pre-planning stage to departure back home. They need to be fed with prior information and confirmation of their visa clearance, insurance of necessary permits, ticketing, and reservations during their travel and stay in hotels.

A tour operator helps all type of tourists to plan their pre-fixed tour schedule in view of the rush of visitors especially during peak season. He looks to clearance of legal formalities and of baggage of tourists at airports. A tour operation may be a season specific or a destination specific catering to the interest of tourists for a particular type or a variety of tourist attractions. While a tour operator’s duty extends from the home country or home place of a tourist or a group of tourists preparing for a package tour, the tour guide takes up the job at a tourist spot. Both work under the overall management and monitoring of a tour manager. All of them along with a number of persons assisting them directly and indirectly for various purposes are a part and parcel of a well-established travel agency.

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