The term potential broadly means something existing but not yet fully exploited. Thus it symbolizes the sum total of qualitative and quantitative values on which the degree and the extent of exploitability depends. It is difficult to explain or assess the potential in numerical terms as it involves many factors in the context of tourism.
Besides, this phenomenon is very complex by nature. Hence, tourism deals with physical, psychological and sometimes even spiritual demands of the people from diverse geographical, socio- cultural and economic background that travels under different motives, interests, preferences and immediate needs. Furthermore, in view of recreation, entertainment, stay, transport, shopping and the like, the demand patterns and desire lines of the tourists, recreationists or the pleasure hunters ought to vary in transit and at destinations. In fact, potential for tourism development in any area largely depends on the availability of recreational resources in addition to factors like climate, seasons, accessibility, attitude of the local people and the tourism planners towards the nature and the extent of tourism development, the existing tourist plan facilities and the degree to which they can be further developed within the prevailing limitations of natural, cultural and financial environments. The term tourist resource again is complex and comprehensive as tourism potential and therefore, equally difficult to define.
As such, any natural or cultural object. Ranging from a mountain peak, river, lake, waterfall, dam, forest, wildlife, bird, historical monument, an object of an art fair or festival, beach, a vantage point, to even a person can be a tourist resource. Different people have different perceptions, interests and tastes, and accordingly, they are interested in different aspects of nature or culture. The resource potential however, considerably depends on the way a resource is developed and, more important, how it is sold. Thus, we can say that in tourism, resource is that which can become an attraction. India abounds in tourism potential in all spheres, be it historical or cultural, be it hills and forests or other places of scenic beauty, be it wildlife, be it hot springs, and be it fairs, festivals and people. For the tourists, India has two special attractions which few other countries can offer rich and varied wildlife and a wealth of ancient monuments.
The remains and relics of the prehistorical civilization, the temples, sculptures and holy sites associated with Buddha, the Hindu temples and caves at Ellora, Elephanta, Khajuraho, Khandagiri, Udaygiri and Tanjore; the monuments, palaces and forts of Muslim rule the exquisite Taj Mahal and the remains of European rule like the Portuguese forts and churches at Goa, Diu and Bandel and the British forts and residencies at Chennai, Surat and Lucknow and the beauty spots on the Himalayas are all tourist attractions. There has been widespread awareness of the potential benefits of tourism, but very little has been done in practice to tap this vast potential. Guidelines to develop our potentials to stimulate tourism in India will be discussed later.