Travel and Tourism was the largest service industry in India was worth $234 bn in 2018. The industry has become one of the largest Foreign Exchange Earners in India with earnings of $29.962 billion over Jan 2019 – Dec 2019 equating a growth of 4.8% over the previous year. According to The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism generated $194 bn or 6.8% of India’s GDP in 2019 and supported 39.80 Mn jobs which is 8 % of its total employment. The sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 6.9% to $460 bn by 2028 which is 9.9% of GDP.
Importance of travel and tourism
As per the estimates of the erstwhile Planning Commission, an investment of ₹1 million generates 78 jobs in the tourism sector. In the manufacturing sector, it results in just 18 jobs and in the agriculture sector, 45. The tourism sector, unlike many other sectors, can grow with smaller capital investments and that too without any industrial gestation period.
The India Skill Report, 2019, estimates the Indian workforce to increase to about 600 million by 2022 from the current 473 million in view of the fourth industrial revolution. The tourism sector will have a major role to play in providing employment opportunities.
Multiplier Effect: Another benefit of the travel and tourism industry is that it not only creates high-quality jobs, but it also boosts investment in India, accelerates development, and highlights India’s unique treasures, making it a soft diplomacy instrument.
- Infrastructure and Networking: Tourist visits to some heritage sites are hampered by infrastructural deficiencies and poor connection.
- Entry/exit Issue: Despite the introduction of an e-visa service, travelers still find the visa application process to be lengthy. In the post-Covid era, this procedure will become even more challenging.
- Promotion & Marketing: While tourism-related marketing in India is on the rise, online marketing/branding is still restricted, and campaigns are not well-coordinated. Tourist information centers are poorly run, making it difficult for both domestic and international visitors to obtain information. Many tourist locations, such as Kangchenjunga, are still difficult to reach.
- India boasts a diverse range of tourism locations, but only a few circuits. In addition, many tourist circuits that have been announced have yet to be executed on the ground.
- Skill Deficit: Providing guests with a world-class experience is complicated by a lack of properly trained employees in the tourism and hospitality industries. The tourism industry’s expansion is hampered by a scarcity of multilingually educated guides and a lack of local knowledge and understanding of the industry’s benefits and obligations.
Holistic approach to improve tourism
- Develop the skills to perform jobs in the travel and tourism sector. The growth in this sector has multiplier effects on income generation as it is employment-intensive with less capital investment. Ecotourism will benefit as a result of this.
- India improved its competitiveness in travel and tourism, from occupying the 65th position in 2013 and then the 40th position in 2017 and then the 34th position in 2019, as per the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report of 2019. But international arrivals have remained comparatively low, at around 9 to 10 million. Thus, there is a need to highlight the significance of public-private partnership to improve infrastructure and tackle the problem of end connectivity, which negatively affect the experiences of international travellers.
- Utilizing Technology: As time goes on, technology has the potential to play a big role in reducing the number of physical touchpoints in hotels, which is critical for safe and sanitary tourism.
- There are examples worldwide on blockchain-based money solutions to kick-start local tourism industries, for instance. Blockchain enables the tracking of items through complex supply chains. Indian start-ups could also explore strategies along these lines. Blockchain ledger coupled with IOT devices for healthcare could have a positive impact on medical tourism.
- Skill Development: It is necessary to link local communities to tourism by encouraging them to start small businesses that supply the sector (accommodation, food and material). The number of jobs available can be increased by encouraging investors and operators in the organized sector to hire locally.
- The travel and tourism industry in India is also fragmented, hindering the ability of the sector to achieve its potential. This area needs to be nudged to embrace the digital revolution, so as to promote public-private initiatives, medium and small and sized enterprises’ growth while ensuring that India follows best practices from across the world.
- Heritage Preservation: Government funds or NGOs/Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives should be used to undertake and complete the conservation and development of all heritage sites.
- The Swadesh Darshan and National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) initiatives of the Ministry of Tourism are already working on heritage site development and maintenance. The number of projects approved under this program should be expanded, and their implementation should be speeded up.
- Focusing Inward: A campaign promoting domestic tourism and highlighting what the country has to offer Indians might be the sector’s post-pandemic strategy.
- Improving Transportation Infrastructure: The UDAN project was a big success, and the government can now focus on launching 100 tourism-oriented trains, as planned. The ease of access can also be increased by completing the Bharatmala and Sagarmala projects more quickly. Furthermore, through critical infrastructure projects, the Holistic Island Development Plan, which focuses on the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) and Lakshadweep Islands, will automatically create jobs for islanders and improve connectivity.
The Government of India recently announced financial support for more than 11,000 registered tourist guides/travel and tourism stakeholders. It also said once international travel resumes, the first five lakh tourists will be issued visas free of charge. In the pre-pandemic period too, many initiatives were adopted to promote the tourism sector, such as providing e-visas under various categories for people from particular countries, Global Media Campaigns, the Heritage Trail and the Paryatan Parv celebration.
The Swadesh Darshan and National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) initiatives of the Ministry of Tourism are already working on heritage site development and maintenance. Integrated Tourist Circuit Development based on Specific Themes – Adopt A Heritage Project, Development of Iconic Tourist Sites, and so on.
Few other countries can match India’s diversity of products and experiences as a tourism destination. The travel and tourist business provides a substantial opportunity for achieving critical national growth imperatives such as job creation in all parts of the country, and its growth can contribute to the country’s overall economic development. However, despite constant growth, India’s tourist sector has failed to reach its full potential due to a number of problems. It will be necessary to address these issues if the industry is to reach its full potential.
How to structure:
- Give a brief intro on India’s tourism sector
- Explain how India has not unlocked its tourism and hospitality sector and mention the associated challenges
- Now, explain a holistic(all encompassing) approach and measures that can help the sector
- Mention the related schemes