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Op-Ed

Mountain Bike Tourism

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By EMN Updated: Feb 25, 2019 10:26 pm
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The recent announcement by the NDA Government in the 2019 Budget Session to take up Adventure Sports such Cycling comes in as positive step to promote tourism and enhance the socio- economic conditions of the state.
While Tourism is often resource intensive, it is a major driver of economic growth in developing countries and also a means of seeking regional cooperation, understanding and peace between the different communities. International tourism is marked at $1.4 trillion and the worldwide revenues have nearly doubled between 2000-2018. It is a major employment generator globally and the industry is expected to continuously grow.
Domestic Tourism has been growing in a settled way with the conventional tourism activities like the Hornbill Festival, Amur Falcon Festival and the Tribal Festivals but we need to look beyond these to fetch additional tourists who would bring in the much needed dollars into our economy. One such activity is cycling or Mountain Biking to put it in a more technical term with reference to Nagaland owing to its mountainous terrane.

With the diverse landscapes of Nagaland, there is significant potential for the state to develop a wide spectrum of mountain biking opportunities through a community based approach. From the rugged High Mountain Ranges of Eastern Nagaland to the interior Middle Mountain Ranges, and from the vast forests reserves, there is scope to expand the product base considerably.

The addition of local culture and attractions within each region can provide unique appeal to individual communities as mountain biking destinations. Creating a mountain biking destination requires a broad tourism vision and the collaboration of various groups within and outside the community. With a vision and partnership structure in place, a community is in a much stronger position to critically review its product, and ensure that trails are authorized and ongoing management is taking place. This type of collaborative approach ensures that the issues of maintenance, risk management and insurance can be more readily addressed. The final stage in building a mountain biking tourism sector involves marketing the product in an effective manner and working with other tourism sectors to add value to the overall visitor experience.

In 2015, Tourism Kamloops and the Kamloops Bike Riders Association partnered to conduct a study on the mountain bike tourism in the Kamloops region.
It was found that the total dollar –sum economic impact of mountain biking tourism in Kamloops at $ 3.5M total per annum was substantial. Of the total estimate, 7,300 mountain bike tourists travel to Kamloops during the riding season.

Oakridge is a 3200 – person town in the heart of central coastal Oregon, with an economy based heavily on resource extraction. That economy took a big hit when logging slowed down. Since Mountain Biking Oregon started in 2005, a series of three-day summer biking festivals has brought visitors to the area, injecting much-needed tourist dollars and attracting people to live. A staggering 26,750 – 40,000 biking visitors per year to Oakridge.

Telimbela is a small village in Ecuador of approximately 100 people. You would have never heard of it unless you’ve ridden in Ecuador or raced the DOWNHILL MAMA RUMI race. In 2016, the people of Telimbela and the other villages located along this road finally got a water system bringing potable water to their century old village.

Why is this happening? It’s because of the Downhill Mama Rumi race and the National and International attention that it’s drawn.
The Downhill Mama Rumi attracted 284 participants in the 2015 edition. Over 600 people go to San Miguel and Telimbela over the race weekened and over 150 riders(International and Ecuadorians) come to the region during the year to ride this trail and other trails in the area. Particularly for the tiny Telimbela, that is a huge tourism economic boost and has resulted in real quality of life changes.

The story of Telimbela and Mama Rumi shows that, not only is mountain biking serious business, mountain biking can change lives for the better.

It is my sincere hope that this article will help by presenting objective data from a selection of places around the world, showing a lot of positive facts and that Mountain Biking has a measurable positive economic impact, especially when gauged in terms of tourism and visitor money into the economy. It can be seen as a way forward to promote pluralism and multiculturalism which can further help to build to fabricate communal harmony.

Atoba Longkumer
Co-Founder
Trail Hounds Cycling Club

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By EMN Updated: Feb 25, 2019 10:26:47 pm