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8.CRAFT IN THE AGE OF TOURISM
TOURISM, if it is managed sensitively, can be a miraculous catalyst for economic and cultural revitalisation; it not only enhances income but also establishes an identity of the country. Two Asian countries—Thailand and India—are among the top ten destinations in the world, and tourists to India increase by almost 15 per cent each year. Th e nature o f to urism itself has chang ed—w ith tourists travelling for leisure and pleasure, rather than culture and architecture. This new type of traveller is often looking to buy ethnic crafts or souvenirs as a memento of their travel experience. Which crafts dovisitors to India buy? Where do they buy them from? These are some of the questions to explore. India has over twenty million craftspeople, who create a very wide range of varied crafts. Is it possible to productively use the ever-growing tourism industry to explore approaches to craft merchandising that will benefit and sustain the crafts community throughout the country? Let us analyse present trends in crafts production and sale in the tourism sector.
Popular Souvenirs from India
Carpets and durries
Kundan, silver and semi-precious jewellery
Folk art—Madhubani paintings, Bastar metal work
Silk—material, garments, scarves and stoles
Embossed and embroidered leather
Pashmina shawls from Kashmir which continue to be the mosT.
The market for crafts in the tourism sector is based on certain factors which it is important to understand and analyse in order to develop the market potential for crafts. A similar approach can be used to analyse other marketing options for crafts.
Air travel implies limited bulk and weight of luggage for travellers. So they prefer to carry small, light objects. Since weight is a major problem, the things that tourists buy have to be either unusual, or something that they don’t get in their own country o r so com p eti tiv e in p rice th a t t h ey fin d th em irresistible.
Today popular destinations in India are Goa and Kerala where visitors flock for the beaches and ayurvedic spas. Tourists also come to see monuments searching fo r a unique cu ltu ral exp erience like v i s i t i n g t h e m a g n i f i c e n t f o r t s a n d p a l a c e s o f Rajasthan. It is important to realise that trends, fashions, tastes and lifestyles change. This, in turn, affects the tourism and crafts industry.
With cameras being so sophisticated, easy-to-use and inexpensive, tourists no longer need souvenirs just to put into showcases at home as reminders of their travels.
International travel today is quite commonplace rather than a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Tourists today are exposed to the best the world can offer, a n d a re t h e re fo r e m o re s e l e c t i v e . T h e I n d i a n experience shows that the traveller today—even backpackers— do have money to spend, but since they travel the globe, they are quite selective about what they spend their money on.
Tourists these days are younger; they are usually professionals on holiday, rather than just the retired and the elderly. Their homes are smaller; usually colour-coordinated and designed to a theme. Just because something is ethnic it is not always desired by them. However, sometimes, simply changing a colour or size can make a traditional item into a best-seller.
Today’s travellers do not want things that are difficultto maintain, which require frequent washing and polishing. Hence, there was a sharp decline in recent years in the demand for Indian metal crafts like bidri, silver and brassware.
On the other hand tourists and travellers do buy clothes and accessories for holidays—casuals, sandals, cloth bags, jewellery. These items are usually cheaper in India than in Europe and America. Tourists today are much less conservative and enjoy experimenting with local styles. Holiday clothes and accessories are, therefore, areas that could be developed.
Visitors would prefer to invest in and to take home truly beautiful artistic objects. This area of artistic, high-quality products needs to be developed rather than trying to sell poorly designed, cheap, outdated souvenirs of the past.
1. Choose a craft for which your state is famous and describe how you could develop this craft for the tourism sector. Why do you think it would be popular amongst tourists? Where would you market it? How would you package it?
2. Prepare the text and illustrations for a brochure on a craft— explaining its unique qualities, its sustainable properties and the community that made it, keeping in mind its value as a part of new trends and concerns of contemporary life.
3. Draw from the story of Kashmir that was over-dependent on foreign tourists and did not develop a domestic market, andrelate it to how any craft in your area has been seriously affected and the reasons for this.
4. Find three new venues for the sale of crafts in your area.Identify places that you think would attract both domestic and foreign visitors and explain why.
5. “Tourists today do not travel to see ancient monuments. They travel seeking leisure and fun. Taking home mementos or curios is no longer high on their agenda.” Do you agree? Elaborate.
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