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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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1.1 About Tourism

Cultural tourism also known as Heritage Tourism can be explained as travelling / visiting places to experience, understand the artifacts, activities, customs, natural resources etc. of the people of the past. Cultural tourism, which is a branch of mainstream tourism, is also known as diaspora tourism. This is the fastest growing tourism segment of the travel industry.  This involves visiting old historical & industrial sites, places of worship, old battle fields, monuments etc.

Cultural tourism can also be said “to be stories of people and places through interpretation cultural landscapes, heritage sites and behavior of people at that place.”

1.2 About Lodging Industry

The concept of lodging dates back to century old. During ancient times, people used to travel mainly for two purpose i.e., pilgrimage or business. Since ages, India is known for its hospitality. Enriched with rich historic heritage, cultural diversity, natural resources and geographical advantage, India remains a big attraction for foreign travelers. During ancient times, the travelers need was mainly for food and accommodation which was met mainly by hospitable householders which still exists in the interior parts of the country. The domestic tourists were looked after by the pandas and the priests. The travelers were accommodated in dharmashalas or in their own respective houses at places of pilgrimage such as Banaras, Haridwar, Puri and Mathura etc. Since ancient time, the attitude of Indians towards visitors was influenced by the thought of “Atithi Devo Bhavah”, which means guest is like God and should treated accordingly. (R.N.Kaul, 1985).

1.3 Heritage Hotels

Recent addition to the hotel industry in the country is that of Heritage Hotels. These are the properties located in small forts, palaces, or have lies, the mansions of erstwhile royal and aristocratic families. It has added a new dimension to the cultural tourism.

1.4 Underwater Hotels

The idea of sleeping with fish and other sea creatures some feet below the sea surface is found hit many customers. New entrant in the hotel industry, is gaining momentum in a big way, with many such hotels getting constructed world over

1.5 Treehouse Hotels

The idea of living on trees overseeing the trees in the lap of nature has caught fancy of many tourists.  Such hotels have been operating in many countries for long time and many such resorts have come up in India now.


2.1 Concept

Heritage hotels are those which are operated in historical structures built prior to1950 like palaces, forts, castles, hunting lodges etc.  The age of mass tourism is here and there is no dearth of hotels and accommodations practically anywhere in the globe for someone looking to travel and sightsee. (Kappor, 2005). India has been the land of Kings and Maharajas, who had numerous palaces and mansions.  These palace and mansions had exquisite carvings and unique design & construction.  Heritage hotels are gaining popularity among many discerning travelers worldwide and India is fast emerging as a popular tourist destination internationally, as it has many charming heritage properties. Mostly consisting of old palace, hilltop forts, hunting lodges and colonial bungalows- some dating back centuries- which not only showcase India's tradition and customs, but also bring alive the flavor, ambience and feel of her rich past.

These hotels are small and run on a different, more personal, scale as compared to the modern metropolitan luxury hotels. Spare and elegant, rich, grand and regal-heritage properties which are now dot all corners of India's vast sub-continental expanse.  Now many international chains of hotels have entered this segment of hotel industry to reap the harvest.

2.2 Classification of Heritage Hotels

Heritage hotels are classified into three categories by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. These are

• Heritage Basic: These are the hotels that are located in Residences/Havelies/Hunting Lodges/Castle/Forts/Palaces that were built prior to 1950. These hotels must possess minimum of 5 rooms (10 beds).

• Heritage Classic: Hotels that are located in Residences/Havelies/Hunting Lodges/Castle/Forts/Palaces that were built prior to 1935. These must possess minimum of 15 rooms (30 beds).

• Heritage Grand: That are located in Residences/Havelies/Hunting Lodges/Castle/Forts/Palace and must possess a minimum of 15 rooms (30 beds). What makes this category different is that the ambience of the hotel must conform to the overall concept of heritage and architectural distinctiveness.

2.3 Hotels in India

According to the Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA) the number of hotels had grown from 51 hotels in 1991 to 154 in 2004. (Kappor, 2005). While a greater number of heritage properties are situated in the northern and western part of the country.

2.4 Hotels by Taj:

Taj group has many heritage hotels under its wings.  Some they are listed below:

• Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad

• Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai

• Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur

• Umaid Bhawan, Jodhpur

• Mahua Kothi, Bandhavgarh National Park

2.5 Hotels across the World:

• Hotel Schloss, Sonnenburg, Italy.  Also known as Castle Hotel, was awarded as the best historic hotel in Europe.

• Allegory Hotel, Greece.  Also known as Allegory Boutique Hotel

• Clare Island Lighthouse Hotel, Ireland

• Landgoed Oldruitenborgh - Hampshire Classic, Netherland

• Héderváry Castle, Vienna

 2.6 Customers Targeted

These hotels have a rich historic legacy and hence need to be maintained carefully.  This makes them costly to live.  Hence the target set of customers would be rich people.

2.7 Challenges

• Regulations and Control

• Not high-inventory hotels

• Different management and ownership strategies

• Hurdles in marketing heritage properties.


3.1 Concept

These are specially designed and constructed hotels in sea or at island to experience the underwater living surrounded by sea creatures and offers other existing features like restaurants, suites, spa, diving, submarine, water sports etc.

3.2 Hotels across the World:

• Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo where guests' scuba divers dive 21 feet beneath the surface of the sea and enter the lodge through a “wet dock”.

• Huvafen Fushi, in Maldives, is a luxury resort also known as the “Home to the world's first underwater spa”, where underwater treatment rooms provide a view beneath the waves

• Utter Inn is not a luxury resort. Guests scuttle down a ladder to reach the simple underwater living quarters.

• Poseidon Undersea Resort in Fiji is currently under construction. It will be located at 225-acre (approximately 0.91km2) South Pacific Island in the northeastern Fiji. It will feature 22 guest rooms, underwater restaurant, bar, library, conference room, chapel, spa and luxury suite.

3.3 Customers Targeted

Since this is new industry, it can be observed that only rich can afford this currently.  However this concept is still infancy stage in India and we have long way to cover.

3.4 Challenges

• Special technology and designing

• Maintaining silent atmosphere

• Treatment of Waste Water, Affluent, Pumps etc.

• Sustainable Development 


4.1 Concept

A treehouse is a building or structure built around or among the trees which are matured.  This structure is above the ground level and is accessible by regular wooden ladders or pilot ladders as per owner's design.

Initially these treehouses were constructed for children recreation, however, of late these houses have become a fashion for rich people.  These can be used for temporary leisure living, recreation, work place etc.  These houses are eco-friendly and constructed in forests to observe wildlife and other natural landscapes.

4.2 In India

The tree hotel business has gained momentum in India and there are many resorts which provide such accommodations.  The amenities provided at these resorts vary from basic to luxurious.  The major tree hotels are in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, and Rajasthan.  These hotels are situated in the lap of bird sanctuaries, forests, near national parks etc.  The rates for hotels vary from INR 2,500 till INR 25,000 per night depending on the season and occupancy.

4.3 In the world

Treehouse hotels have been operating overseas over few decades and are popular among the visitors as eco-friendly destinations. The major tree hotels are located in Sweden, Portugal, France, Spain & Norway.  These hotels are crafted within the old trees at height of up to 22mtrs. These hotels provide all luxurious amenities and can accommodate 2 to 8 people in a room. The tree hotels are constructed in various shapes and sizes like mirrored hotel, nest shaped, multi storeyed, UFO shaped etc.  The rates have a long swing of variation from US$90 till US$1600 per night depending country and amenities provided.

4.4 Targeted Customers

Marketing for such accommodations is a special challenge as this culture is new to our country.  There are not many people who prefer to stay in such accommodations due to safety, price, location etc.  However, the positive side of these hotels is that people have shown interest in these type of hotels. The target customers for these hotels are vacationers, honeymoon couples, families etc.

4.5 Challenges faced

The industry has couple of challenges ahead:

• Availability of right location and correct matured trees

• Maintain eco-friendly atmosphere

• Sustainable development

• Availability of customers willing to pay high price

• Minimum damage to the environment



5.1 Strategy for Heritage Hotels

Rural Heritage Tourism: is an activity that can have extraordinary impact on a rural community. In the state of Rajasthan, for instance, 80% of the state's thriving heritage hotels are located in rural areas and the impact on the local economies is often substantial. The challenge is not only to develop and publicize the heritage attractions, but to work with clearly defined management plans in which the local community members participate at all stages to insure that tourism benefits the community and helps to reinforce, instead of degrade, the very heritage on which it depends.

5.2 Strategy for Underwater Hotels

This industry is still fairly young but very interesting.  These hotels can deliver thrill with education of marine habitat.  It would be advisable to target people who want to enjoy adventure, luxury etc.

5.3 Strategy for Treehouse Hotels

These hotels have been operating in the Western countries for quite some time but are fairly new for India.  These hotels are popular with nature lovers who want to spend quality time in the lap of Mother Nature.   The strategy would be to construct tree houses in the forests, not very far from cities and target people who love to spend time in forests, honeymoon couples etc.


Recent times has seen infuse in heritage tourism.  All out efforts are being made to make it more popular by providing modern comforts at heritage sites.  Some anthropologists are critical of this move, as some heritage sites are being discriminated against some exclusive elite sites.

Tourism is based on “quest”, however it ought to be a general, careful quest and not lending to indiscriminate exploitation of heritage sites by the authorities.  The following guiding principles should be followed in heritage tourism:

• Collaboration: It should be a partnership between local people and the authorities so as to provide business opportunities on long term and sustainable basis.

• Balance: This tourism should be able to achieve a balanced development i.e. development of heritage sites as well as satisfying the needs of the local population.

• Make Sites Lively: The visits to these sites should be educative and entertaining.

• Quality of Information: The information provided should be authentic and presented in manner which would make tourist compel to read and revisit.

• Sustainability: The development should be a sustained development i.e. the richness of the heritage, culture, customs etc. should be preserved / maintained so that they can be passed on a rich legacy to the future generations.

The above will definitely help in developing the tourism and the hotel industry in long way.



“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.”

- W. Somerset Maugham

The legacy of physical artefacts and intangible attributes of a group or society, inherited from the past need to be preserved and passed on to the future generations. This process would help in educating the future generations about the culture, its richness and importance. It is of paramount importance that heritage tourism be taken seriously and effective steps should be taken to develop it. We need to showcase our country's rich legacy and benefits for the future generations. We should have equal respect for our nature, since many trends in the tourism and hospitality industry are related to nature.

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