2 Years agoDriving socio-economic growth, triggering the development of infrastructure in various regions and facilitating growth in other sectors such as retail, construction and transport.
The tourism and hospitality sector is integral to the Indian economy as it is driving socio-economic growth, triggering the development of infrastructure in various regions and facilitating growth in other sectors such as retail, construction and transport. “Tourism is a big employment generator and has a multiplier impact on the economy,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said while presenting the Union Budget 2017-18.1
The Ministry of Tourism’s (MoT) progress-oriented policies has given a boost to tourism in India over the period of last two years. Foreign Tourist Arrivals during the period January-November, 2016 were 7.8 million with a growth of 10.4% as compared to the Foreign Tourist Arrivals of 7.1 million with a growth of 4.7% in January- November, 2015 over January- November, 2014.2 Tourism is also responsible for massive inflows of foreign currency. The Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism were USD 21 billion during January-November 2016, a sharp growth of 14.7% from last year.3
Due to the government’s proactive role in supporting tourism and hospitality sector, India has become one of the most sought after travel destinations in the world. In 2015, World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Index placed India on the 52nd position – a 13 place jump from the 65th position it occupied in 20134
To further push the holistic development of the sector and to create opportunities for investments, the MoT in collaboration with other ministries has launched schemes such as Swadesh Darshan, National Mission for Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation (PRASAD) and e-Tourist Visa (e-TV). Under the e-Tourist Visa facility, 161 countries are now covered. With all such efforts, there has been a 2.5 times increase in e-visa arrivals in the matter of a year5
PRASAD aims to focus on the integrated development of 25 religious sites. A budget USD 51 million has been allocated towards this.6 7 The Union Budget 2017-18 has made various provisions for the sector such as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) driven five Special Tourism Zones and next phase of the Incredible India campaign for the sector.8
An increase in the number of domestic tourists is going to be a major growth driver in the tourism and hospitality sector in India. The Domestic Tourist Visits (DTV) registered a growth of 12% in 2016 when compared to 2014.9 India’s varied climatic zones, biodiversity, large landmass and cultural diversity is playing a significant role in complementing the growth of tourism in the country.
In collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs, the government has simplified the visa process for tourists.10 A special visa category called ‘Medical Visa and Medical Attendant Visa’ has been created to ease the entry of medical tourists in India.11 To fully utilise the potential of medical and wellness tourism, National Medical and Wellness Tourism Board has been formed.
Rural areas are undergoing a transformation in their infrastructure so that the tourism industry reaches more parts of the country and the local community benefits economically as well as socially. The costs of flying is expected to decrease with the government planning to increase the number of airports to 25012 from the currently operational 13213. The growth will be aided by increased domestic expenditure on tourism from USD 90 billion in 2015 to reach USD 204 billion by 2026.14
India’s share in world tourist arrival is expected to increase from 0.63% to 1% by 2020, and further 2% by 2025.15 16 Vigorous demand, varied attractions and a constant policy support would make India a highly competitive travel destination in the world.