Indian Tourism booming by the trillions

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A new report shows that the systematic growth, maintenance, and sustainable development of tourism destinations for India, as well as focus on promoting the emerging avenues of tourism, will be essential towards unlocking the nation’s true tourism potential.

In a FICCI-Yes Bank Report titled “India Inbound Tourism: Unlocking the Opportunities” highlights India as a tourism powerhouse. The sector has generated USD 247.3 billion (INR 16.91 trillion) in 2018, with a growth of 6.7% and accounted for 9.2% of the total economy. Currently, it is the 8th largest country in terms of contribution to travel and tourism GDP and the largest market in South Asia. By 2029, the Indian tourism sector is likely to grow at 6.7% per annum to reach INR 35 trillion (USD 501.4) with 9.6% of GDP.

The report further highlights that the tourism sector generated 26.7 million jobs in 2018. By 2029, the sector is expected to provide employment to nearly 53 million people, directly and indirectly. Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) crossed 10 million in 2017, and the growth trend is expected to continue. Consumption by domestic tourists remains the key strength of the sector in India, much stronger than the global average. Growing disposable income, increase in new millennial tourists, and new travel destinations, as well as new themes of tourism will further propel growth.

The growth in the Indian travel and tourism sector has largely been driven by domestic tourists. Foreign tourists still account for a limited share as compared to some of the top-ranking countries. The government intends to achieve the ambitious target of 1% foreign tourist arrivals in the world’s international tourist arrivals by 2020 and increase it to 2% by 2025.

Traditional and emerging themes of tourism, including nature, heritage & cultural, religious, adventure, medical & wellness, MICE, and wedding, among others, have been a key attraction for domestic and foreign tourists. Strong domestic demand and economic growth, price competitive offerings, infrastructure development, and emergence of new destinations and niche tourism products will continue to drive the growth of the industry in future.

The government has also undertaken several initiatives such as rapid implementation of Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD schemes, E-Visa for citizens from 166 countries, and Adventure Tourism Guidelines, among others. Promotional activities such as the Incredible India 2.0 campaign and India Tourism Mart 2018 have also immensely benefited the sector.

Going forward, there is a greater need for the government and private sector to collaborate towards thematic development of the destinations, skilling of local communities, and the conceptualization and implementation of developmental initiatives for the sector.

The report suggests 14 points to make India a tourism superpower:

  1. Tourism Competitiveness Index/Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Rankings for States/UTs
  2. Creation of National Tourism Authority & Advisory Council
  3. Incentivize Private Sector Participation
  4. Rationalizing GST for Hotels
  5. Land Bank Repository
  6. Greater Coordination at State Level
  7. Upgrading Government-owned Infrastructure through Private-Sector Participation
  8. Industry-oriented Skill Development
  9. Supporting Small Enterprises
  10. Leveraging Social Media to Boost Inbound Tourism
  11. Technology Penetration in Tourism Sector
  12. Combined VISA Option
  13. Focus on Source Markets
  14. Focus on Northeast India
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