Promoting Local Economy through a Safe & Green Heritage Tourist Circuit Design

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Abstract Summary
Inclusive development of a tourism-centric city includes both actors— residents and tourists. Positive experiences of tourists improve the economic well-being of cities by helping small local establishments at a neighbourhood level. These smaller establishments (souvenir shop, local cuisine eateries etc.) are generally located close to main landmarks so as to leverage maximum benefit from retailing. Wen-juan and Zheng-lan (2009) argue that trails are important infrastructure as it enhances tourists’ wayfinding ability to important landmarks and goes on to show how the creation of trails helps improving tourist satisfaction. Mansouri and Ujang (2016) relates tourist expectation and satisfaction based on pedestrian networks available in the historic centre of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Indian historic cities had traditionally evolved with mixed land use and compact urban core, where destinations are located close-by and walkable. Although there are studies which point to the benefits of having a tourist trail in a heritage area, there are no specific guidelines or design criteria that outlines the development of such trails in India. Therefore, the primary question being investigated in this study is “How to design a heritage circuit for pedestrians taking into account the landmarks and the local businesses alike?” The study develops a methodology to design a pedestrian circuit in one of the heavily travelled tourist destinations in India, Varanasi, located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Tourists from across the globe can be spotted in the city throughout the year. In 2013, an estimated 5.3 million tourists visited Varanasi, whose resident population according to the last census in 2011 was 1.2 million. Varanasi is often referred to as the oldest surviving cities in the world and is an important pilgrimage centre for Hindus and Buddhists. Tourism in Varanasi is characterised by the Ganga and it’s Ghats (riverbanks), ancient relics and temples, Indian spiritualism and mysticism, Indian classical music, narrow serpentine by-lanes, meditation, handicraft items, etc. The area considered for developing the circuit in this study is between the two popular ghats of Assi and Dashashwamedh, flanked by Gowdolia Chowk in the north and Lanka in the south. Places of interest, along with heavily visited local shops, a proxy for local economic activity, in the area were determined using the Location-based Social Media Monitoring Tools like Geofeedia and WeLink. These easy-to-use tools combine keyword-based monitoring with geo-specific listening. The result is a hybrid solution, which uses cellular data mining and WiFi to discover and collect all the social happenings within a selected area. This information was overlaid on the digitized local street and narrow by-lanes network, and simultaneous visual & perception surveys were conducted to assess the walking environment, which included aspects of sidewalk/pavement condition, vehicle-pedestrian interaction, nighttime safety, etc. These pieces of information were integrated to design circuits of various “values”, where a high-value circuit is one that offers a great walking experience; can be completed within optimal time duration; covering majority of the places of interest, and includes local shops offering high-value items. Results from this study would be helpful to urban planners and trail designers to plan a holistic tourist circuit that enables sustainable development of the city. The methodology developed could also be applicable to other Indian heritage tourist destinations. References: BU Wen-Juan, LU Zheng-Lan (2009) a Study On The Trail Design Of Wetland Park—A Case Study Of Xixi National Wetland Park In Hangzhou, Human Geography, 2009-04 Mahsa Mansouri &Norsidah Ujang (2016) Tourist’ expectation and satisfaction towards pedestrian networks in the historical district of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Asian Geographers, 33(1), 35-55
Abstract ID :
ISO651
Submission Type
Research Scholar
,
Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
Research Scholar
,
Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
Research Scholar
,
Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
Assistant Professor
,
Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
Professor
,
Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur

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