Before the Covid pandemic hit Sri Lanka, there was some debate and concern about tourists standing at the doors of trains and even hanging around while the train is moving. Some pictures of a young couple hanging off a highland train while clutching the side rails went viral on social media, with debates about the âprosâ and âconsâ causing the fever to rise. While this is certainly a dangerous practice that should not be tolerated, there might be a way to turn this seemingly popular, albeit dangerous, pastime into an “out of the box” opportunity for some tourists. In this article, these options will be examined pragmatically.
From Srilal Miththapala
Social media, and even some of the more conventional media, were in turmoil before the CoVid crisis when some pictures surfaced of a young tourist couple hanging out in gay devotion on a Sri Lankan highland train enjoying the exciting moment. There has been heated debate about this form of “promoting Sri Lanka” with many people talking about the dangers of such a practice and that if something dangerous happened, it would bring negative publicity to Sri Lanka. This part of the train journey along the highland route is probably one of the most scenic train routes in the world.
And rightly so, I think. I myself belonged to the choir, which vehemently spoke out against it.
Anyway, I was thinking outside the box – can we create an opportunity here?
The ‘new’, adventurous and exciting tourist of today
There is no doubt that there is a new segment of discerning, younger, adventurous and adventurous tourists popping up and traveling all over the world. They are very internet and social media savvy, looking for more adventurous and exciting experiences, and are usually very environmentally conscious. They are most often seen exploring an off the beaten track vacation that is individually planned according to their needs and desires.
Over the centuries, humanity has pushed the boundaries of exploration: we have conquered land, sea and space. With our unbroken thirst for knowledge, we have discovered many previously unknown wonders of our planet.
Tourists are no different. To escape the stressful everyday life, they look for something else, even venture into hostile or dangerous places to experience the excitement of discovery and the feeling of adventure. A clean hotel room with a range of facilities, good food and some sunshine is no longer good enough for a tourist.
According to booking.com, the longing for experiences over material possessions continues to drive travelers’ desire for more incredible and unforgettable trips: 45% of travelers have a bucket list on their mind. The most adventurous people looking to visit a world-famous theme park, travelers on an epic train journey, or visiting a remote or challenging location are most likely to appear on a bucket list. ()
Drive reduction theory in psychology posits that one is never in a state of complete fulfillment, and therefore there are always drives that need to be satisfied. Humans and other animals willingly increase tension by exploring their unfamiliar surroundings, creating stress themselves, and leaving their comfort zones. That gives them a sense of achievement and self-satisfaction. ()
Therefore, unknown thrills, adventure and the “adrenaline rush” attract travelers.
What have other countries done?
As mentioned earlier, many countries are developing unique, memorable and exciting experiences into their product offerings.
Some are described below
Stroll along the Sydney Harbor Bridge
Stroll along the Sydney Harbor Bridge
Small groups take a stroll along the massive, arched, steel-textured Sydney Harbor Bridge. The dramatic 360 degrees. The view of the harbor and the nearby Sydney Opera House from the 135 meter high bridge is a rare and exhilarating experience while totally exposed to the elements.
Coiling Dragon Cliff Skywalk, Zhangjiajie, China
In northwest China’s Hunan Province, visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the walkway that connects to Tianmen Mountain – 4,700 feet above the ground.
The glass floor walkway is more than 100 meters long and only about 1.50 meters wide and offers an experience that is supposed to be exhilarating and scary.
The CN Tower Edge Walk, Canada
The tallest attraction in Toronto has people stand right on the edge of the CN Tower and lean forward. It is the world’s tallest hands-free walking tour on a 1.5 m wide ledge that surrounds the top of the tower’s main capsule, 356 m, 116 stories above the ground. EdgeWalk is a Canadian Signature Experience and an Ontario Signature Experience.
A variety of unique trekking opportunities in Rwanda and Uganda allow you to hike into the jungle and look the gorillas in the eye in their natural habitat. It is a completely unique African safari experience. This moment leaves a lasting and unforgettable impression of getting so close to this majestic wild animal.
These are just a few. There are already a number of unique visitor attractions that delight tourists all over the world.
The CN Tower Edge Walk, Canada
Security – the one overriding condition
All of these exciting and seemingly dangerous tourist attractions have one thing in common that is never compromised – safety.
Safety is of the utmost importance in all of these activities and is subject to strict controls and reviews on a regular basis. All of the staff who guide and guide these exciting tourists are well trained and disciplined.
All equipment used for safety, such as seat belts and seat belts, is developed according to the highest standards and regularly tested. Nothing is left to chance and if there is the slightest danger from unforeseen environmental conditions, the attraction will be temporarily closed. (e.g. the Sydney Harbor Bridge Walk is suspended in strong winds).
Such safety measures are imperative as any unforeseen accident can lead to serious and grave consequences of legal disputes up to and including the closure of the attraction.
And what about our train ride?
The attraction of the Sri Lankan highland train ride (mostly between Nanu Oya and Ella – the most scenic section) is the fact that a tourist can stand “on the step” of the train’s open lane door and feel the cool breeze against his faces while soaking up the beautiful hill country and the tea plantations. This is something most western tourists can’t do at home, where all the lane doors close automatically when the train leaves.
In fact, I have been told that some tour operators in Australia are specifically asked by tourists to arrange this “experience” for them when they book their tour.
So why not be creative and turn it into a real attraction?
Can’t we convert a car so that it has an open âbalconyâ on the side, on which a person can stand âoutsideâ and âfeel the open surroundingsâ? Appropriate safety rails could be fitted to it, and each person could be anchored to the carriage with a strap (as with other attractions where interaction is open to the elements). A special fee may be charged for this experience.
One factor that favors the safety aspect is that the train travels at a “snail’s pace” when crossing this route due to the steep incline, unlike abroad, where speeds of 80-100 km / h can be reached.
This attraction could be used as a source of income for the Ministry of Railways as tourists wishing to experience this “thrill” could be charged a fee for a period of time during which they can use the facility.
While this may seem simplistic, in reality several logistical problems can be addressed.
But if there is a will and the various departments involved all see the opportunity and can come on the same “wavelength” to break through the usually prevailing excessive bureaucracy, then it would certainly not be difficult at all.
The whole point of this entire paper, however, is that we need to think âout of the boxâ and seize all possible opportunities that come up, especially as we are gradually opening up to tourists after the pandemic. We are used to ranting and raving about all the deficits. But there is still so much to do when a few motivated and committed people get together.
After all, tourism is âshow businessâ and what is show business without creativity, vigor, actors and showmanship?