Boosting the Tourism Industry
Contribution of tourism sector to India’s GDP is around 6.8% while at the same time it is big employment generator with a 7.7 % of the employment share. It is the third largest foreign exchange earner to the country. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) forecast the travel and tourism industry in India would grow by 8% per anum in between 2008-2016. Foreign exchange earnings in this period would grow by 14% during the same period.
Government initiatives in the past to revive the sector
National Policy on Tourism was formed in 1982 in order to promote the tourism and to attract the tourists. Visa on arrival facility is now extended to 43 more countries in 2015 which was till now limited to 13 countries. Along with it the long term tourist visa is also available. To provide the skill development and training programme like – Hunar se Rozgar is one such initiative in this direction. Diversifying the publicity through ‘incredible India’ taking it to a different platform by introducing the campaigns in different foreign languages like the Spanish, French etc. Extension of international cooperation like the recent bilateral cooperation on tourism between India and Oman signed in Jan 2015. Also the campaign ‘the visit India year’ launched in china by the external affairs minister recently in Jan 2015.
Challenges to the sector
Instead of having a rich biodiversity and a cultural heritage and many world heritage sites, India ranked 38th in the world in terms of the foreign Tourist arrival, way below those coming to china, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia. Factors contributing to it includes the lack of infrastructure like roads, rail and air connectivity between the major tourist destinations. Only few states like Rajasthan and Kerela which attracts a large chunk of their tourist revenue have good transport facility. Regulatory issues like the law and order leading to unscrupulous agents harassing and befooling the tourists. Assaults of foreign women is one such burgeoning issue. Sanitation and cleanliness is another important factor which sends a filthy image of India to the world outside. Terrorist attacks in the past at Bodh Gaya and Taj Hotel attack in Mumbai in 2008 which are dense tourist spots were other such incidence which brought the unsafe destination image of the country.
India needs to take multidimensional approach including infrastructure, human resource, and international cooperation. More and more flights connecting the major tourist destination along with better road and rail facilities. More luxury trains like the Deccan odyssey. Developing the inland waterways to provide the cruise facility which would harness the long coastline and connecting the major location along the coasts. Out of box thinking like building the religious circuit viz. Buddhist religious circuits to attract the religious tourism. Developing the Adventure tourism like the mountain climbing, river rafting. Medical tourism (e.g. surrogacy) is also expected to grow by 30% this year only.