Traveling for mountaineering is not a function of socio-economic factors as per preliminary analysis of expedition data of five years.
I have compared total number of mountaineering expeditions organized by thirteen (13) Indian states and two (2) union territories with per capita net state domestic product at current prices and human development index (HDI) for 2011-12 and literacy rate (Census of India 2011).
Number of Expeditions vs. Per Capita Net State Domestic Product (NSDP)
Data shows that high per capita net state domestic product did not translate into high number of expeditions. For example, West Bengal organized the highest number of expeditions (177) among the thirteen states that organized mountaineering expeditions to the Indian Himalaya. However, its per capita NSDP was the tenth highest (INR 53,383) among the above states.
Maharashtra organized the second highest number of expeditions (38) but its per capita NSDP amounted to INR 93,748, the fourth highest.
Although per capita NSDP of Delhi was INR 166,883, the highest, the state cum union territory recorded the third highest number of expeditions (34).
Uttarakhand with per capita NSDP of INR 85,372 organized just twelve (12) expeditions.
Himachal Pradesh with per capita NSDP of INR 75,185 recorded just two expeditions.
Ironically, even proximity to mountain peaks did not trigger the urge for mountaineering adventures in Himachali and Uttarakhandi people.
Tamil Nadu with the fifth highest per capita NSDP (INR 89,050) recorded more expeditions (3) than Himachal Pradesh (2). Karnataka with per capita NSDP of INR 68,053 organized five (5) expeditions.
Chandigarh with the second highest per capita NSDP (INR 136,883) organized just one (1) expedition, the lowest. Similarly Kerala with seventh highest per capita NSDP (INR 78,387) recorded just one (1) expedition.
Money does not drive urge for adventure. In fact, adventurous souls find resources to satiate the urge.
Number of Expeditions vs. Human Development Index (HDI)
A comparison of HDI score with total number of expeditions also does not show any trend. Mountaineering adventures are independent of human development indicators.
For example, West Bengal with highest number of expeditions (177) scored eighth highest HDI score (0.483).
Maharashtra and Delhi with 38 and 34 expeditions respectively scored sixth (0.629) and third (0.740) respectively.
Kerala with the highest HDI score (0.911) went for mountaineering holiday only once. Chandigarh ranked high on both indicators, per capita NSDP (INR 136,883) and HDI score (0.784) but organized just one expedition. Moreover, Manipur (0.199) and Jharkhand (0.222) with low HDI scores also organized one expedition each.
All these disconnections reflect in HDI score graph consisting of steep peaks and valleys, whereas the expedition number graph rises smoothly.
Number of Expeditions vs. Literacy Rate
Mountaineering adventures are not dependent on level of education either. For example, literacy rate of Rajasthan (66.10%) and Jharkhand (66.40%) is almost same. However, Rajasthan (5 expeditions) organized 400% more expeditions than Jharkhand (1 expedition).
Kerala has the highest literacy rate (94%), whereas West Bengal has ninth highest literacy rate (76.30%). However, Kerala (1 expedition) organized 1760% less expeditions than West Bengal (177).
In fine, even level of education, proximity to peaks, and high HDI score that is a composite of various factors, including per capita income, life expectancy, and literacy rate do not impact decisions of undertaking a mountaineering holiday.
But this type of study requires more granular data (not readily available) and micro level analysis. Demand side of mountaineering, a hard adventure, is not driven by socio-economic factors. However, supply side of mountaineering is mainly driven by economic benefits that in turn will improve social status of the mountaineering-related service providers.