Yoga is in vogue. From classical forms to more contemporary fusion form, it is being practiced by hundreds of millions of people world over. Thanks to increasing number of fitness and health enthusiasts, it has grown into a significant 80 billion dollar industry. Much of it, ironically, is being tapped by yoga centers based in the USA and Europe. So when the Second International Day of Yoga was celebrated in every nook and corner of the country and images of PM Modi bending and stretching in unison with a mammoth crowd in Chandigarh was beamed globally, India was rightfully signaling its political intent of evolving as the Yoga capital of the world.
Movie-stars, politicians, sports icons and spiritual leaders like Baba Ramdev were seen at various events across the country. A remarkable feat of hosting the biggest yoga assembly was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. On the global scale, it got bigger than the last time. As many as 192 countries celebrated the event as people were seen performing various asana in streets and at public spaces. Over a hundred Indian embassies and consulates swung into action by organizing the event in their premises. The event was also held at UN headquarters in New York.
This annual event that has been gleefully embraced by people from around the world has opened up tremendous possibilities for yoga tourism in India. Centers like Rishikesh and Ujjain have already gained global repute. Time is ripe for evolving strategies to corner a larger share of the market. Incidentally, the government has recently relaxed e-visa norms to accommodate travellers interested in short and long term courses in yoga, increasing the probability of larger footfalls from that segment. It is a welcome initiative by the government, but to be able to tap the market better, India would need to tighten accreditation process to ensure only authentic and learned practitioners are allowed to operate schools. It would ensure quality visitor experience and maintain nation’s repute in international circles.