Nikhel Bothra

Tourism in India has rebounded strongly in the post-pandemic period. According to the Union Ministry for Culture and Tourism, foreign tourist arrivals have soared around 435 per cent during the past three years. The steadily rising tourist numbers are welcome news that resonates well with the Centre’s vision of ‘Viksit Bharat’ (or developed India) by 2047, which is meant to boost the nation’s global tourist appeal.

India offers a variety of tourism such as adventure, wildlife, pilgrimage, wellness and many more. Many such religious and hilly destinations are attracting universal attention. Recent data from EaseMyTrip shows a staggering 102 per cent jump in searches for pilgrimage destinations this May (2024) compared to the last year. This includes popular spots like Ayodhya, Ujjain, Badrinath, and Amarnath. Ayodhya, a pilgrimage site, is projected to welcome approximately 50 million people to the city annually, giving the region a huge economic boost.

Shortfalls in tourist facilities
Although this surge in visitors is good news, there is an underlying challenge, too. In most segments, which include hotels, restaurants and allied facilities, demand outstrips supply in such regions that become a tourist hot spot overnight. These destinations are struggling to keep up with the demand for accommodations, leading to overcrowding and higher prices for tourists.

Lakshadweep is a tourist destination that shot into the limelight after Prime Minister Modi visited the archipelago in January and commented on its pristine beauty. An unsavoury response from some officials in the Maldives backfired badly as Indians cancelled bookings to the island. Instead, they are keenly interested in holidaying in Lakshadweep, which still lacks the requisite infrastructure to host a sudden influx of tourists.

Considering the unprecedented inflow, local hospitality players are struggling to meet this demand. To address this growing demand, new hotels must be added over the medium to long term to ensure a comfortable and welcoming experience for everyone.

Nonetheless, hopes abound that the industry will record robust development vis-à-vis the quality and affordability of accommodation in the next year or so. In the coming days, big brands and boutique hotels will strive to make their presence felt.

Despite this, visitors have demanded that the tourism industry’s growth in these destinations should be fast-forwarded through government support. Some tourists have revealed they were charged higher prices for rooms by local agents. What’s more, officials of the tourist industry in certain cities claim that budget hotels hike tariffs by 25 per cent due to the extra demand. These facts reveal the potential for greater viability of hospitality enterprises in these regions.

5th biggest economy ranked 39th in TTDI 2024 Index: India’s travel industry needs a reboot

A WEF study shows global tourist arrivals are projected to reach pre-pandemic levels in 2024, reflecting pent-up demand and sector resilience. Within Asia-Pacific, Japan world’s 4th largest economy with GDP (USD 4112 billion) leads with 3rd rank globally in TTDI Index followed by Australia on 5th. China world’s 2nd largest economy with GDP (USD 18,536 billion) ranks 8th in the top 10 while India dropped 10 positions to 39th globally.

Major infrastructure challenges
Whether it is airports, highways or public transport, India’s tourist infrastructure remains a work in progress. Consequently, basic amenities such as clean water, modern sanitation facilities and quality healthcare services are still lacking in most tourist locations.

The other major challenge is the lack of skilled human resources in the tourism trade. Skilled personnel are urgently required in tour guiding, travel management, hospitality and other spheres. Additionally, many visitors prefer eco-friendly destinations such as wildlife reserves and nature resorts. This calls for infrastructure that is built keeping sustainability norms in mind.

Pre-engineered buildings: A super solution
Fortunately, a suitable solution is available for the host of needs noted above – pre-engineered buildings (PEBs), which can facilitate the rapid construction of high-quality structures, including tourist accommodation and basic facilities. PEBs are ideal for meeting the mounting demand for stay options by tourists, efficiently and sustainably.

Countries around the world have already seen the benefits of PEBs in the tourism sector. In India, PEBs have become a versatile solution for various sectors, with successful applications in building schools, hospitals, industrial facilities, and more. Successful projects like the Amarnath Yatri Niwas (pilgrim shelters), temporary COVID hospitals, and even resort construction using PEBs serve as powerful examples of India’s adeptness in leveraging this technology for rapid construction. This demonstrates its potential for the tourism industry, where rapid response to surges in tourist arrivals is crucial.

PEBs are predesigned, prefabricated steel structures that can be customised as per specific needs and assembled at the construction site. Houses, offices, factories, warehouses, stadiums, auditoriums, cold storage units, shopping malls and more could all be made with PEBs because these steel beams and columns can be shaped as per requirement.

High-altitude locations can also benefit from PEB variations like Light Gauge Steel Framing (LGSF) technology. LGSF’s lightweight and adaptable design makes it ideal for building hotels, resorts, and camps in these challenging terrains.

Here are the six biggest benefits of PEBs:
1. Swift construction: Compared to conventional concrete structures, PEBs can be erected much faster since the standardised components are engineered earlier. As a result, production, engineering and erection time are drastically reduced. The design phase is speeded up through software design while state-of-the-art machines used for beam welding, shear cutting and plasma cutting crunch the fabrication time of built-up components significantly.

2. Weather resistance: PEBs have sturdy steel frames built to take heavy loads and withstand extreme climate conditions. As load considerations are factored into the construction beforehand, it augments the structural quality immensely. PEBs can even withstand the impact of earthquakes.

3. Minimal maintenance: By using corrosion-resistant steel, PEBs tolerate varied operating conditions. Thereby, this limits the necessary maintenance that other structures require to survive for prolonged durations.

4. Easy installation: As most of the structural engineering is done in the factory during prefabrication, it lowers the on-ground efforts needed at the construction site. PEB units can be transported easily to the site and assembled with nuts and bolts. Its easy assembly process means manual labour is minimal.

5. Cost-effective: With materials being selected during the design stage, all calculations are executed earlier. This leads to efficient use of materials and less wasteful expenditure. Best of all, PEB units can be moved from one place to another, allowing a greater return on investments.

6. Environment-friendly: For green projects, PEBs are the preferred option since they can be relocated easily. In other words, the same structure could be shifted to different places, repeatedly. The cherry on the cake is that PEBs need no water for construction.

Given the wide spectrum of advantages, PEBs can be the preferred choice for speedy, affordable construction, whether it is Ayodhya, Lakshadweep or any other region or requirement.

The author is the Director at EPACK Prefab, leading manufacturer of pre-engineered and prefabricated steel buildings.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it. shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.

  • Published On May 29, 2024 at 07:15 PM IST

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