Developing tourism in South Asia: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh-SAARC and beyond

C. Michael Hall, Stephen Page

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


Travel and tourism have long been associated with South Asia. For example, in the seminal study of the geography of India and Pakistan, Spate and Learmonth (1954) identified the growing significance of tourism. They also indicated that the existing pattern of colonial transport infrastructure had been utilized and developed for domestic travel including the fledgling air transport network and intensive network of railways and roads. Religious pilgrimage has been, and is still, an important factor in the domestic travel patterns in South Asia and, increasingly, international visitation with the pilgrimage centres and routes which have developed over the past 3000 years remaining important to the present day (e.g. Kaur, 1985). Despite the relatively early development of resort tourism under the British, international tourism received relatively little consideration as an economic development mechanism by the governments of the region until the late 1970s in the cases of the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka and, in the case of India, not until the early 1990s. However, although having one-fifth of the world's population and a number of worldrenowned tourism attractions such as the Taj Mahal, the Himalayas and spectacular beaches and coastal scenery, the countries of South Asia (Figure 14.1) receive less than 1 per cent of the world's international tourist arrivals and tourism receipts. As Table 14.1 shows, the pattern of arrivals for 1990-1994 shows considerable variation and fluctuation with political conflict and other tensions causing significant variations. Indeed, one major reason for this may be the conflicting images and stereotypes of the exotic and the 'begging bowl' which are all wrapped together in the Western media portrayals of South Asia (Richter, 1989). Images of the sub-continent have become even more complicated in recent years by the hostage-taking of tourists in Kashmir, the ongoing political conflict between India and Pakistan and civil war in Sri Lanka. Even so, Mumtaz and Mitha (1996), in relation to Pakistan, highlight the cultural variety which creates cultural landscapes for tourism, rich in the ethnic diversity of localities and their people and traditions. For example, Pakistan alone has a range of languages and dialects including urdu, punjabi, sindhi, pashto and balochi; this adds to the attraction and experience of differentness observed in Chapter 1 which characterizes both Southeast and South Asia (Robinson, 1989).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTourism in South and Southeast Asia
Subtitle of host publicationIssues and Cases
PublisherTaylor & Francis Group
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781136002267
ISBN (Print)9780750641289
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


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