It’s no secret that our Tourism Industry remains heavily underemployed, highly unregulated and its true potential to both Economy and workforce is still unharnessed.
With 32 UNESCO recognized natural and cultural heritage sites, India ranks second in Asia and fifth in the world. Still, India’s share in ITAs (International tourist arrivals) is a paltry 0.6%.
Why are International / Foreign Tourists important?
- For one, they bring in much valued Foreign Currency which contributes to our Foreign Exchange Reserves and keeps our Balance of Payment robust. <Note that Tourist expenditure in India counts as “Exports” under BoP accounting>
- India’s receipts from tourism during 2012 ranked 16th in the world, and 7th among Asian and Pacific countries (World Tourism Organization Report)
- It helps stabilize our currency in International Market
- Builds Brand India (Incredible !ndia campaign has proven to boost foreign tourism more than domestic tourism)
- Although it is notable that domestic tourists contribute to more than 75% of the revenue from Tourism Sector, but its denominated in INR
- Note: Under 7th Schedule division of Powers, Pilgrimages outside India comes under Union’s List while those Inside India is covered by State List.
India’s Comparative performance in International tourist arrivals (ITAs)
- ITA simply means the percentage of outbound tourists travelling to another country in proportion to all outbound tourists of the world combined.
- France has the highest share of ITAs, despite being much smaller than a continent size country like India. (India’s share in ITA is 0.6% compared to 7.8 per cent in France)
- Foreign tourist arrivals by source country: Largest foreign tourists are from USA, 2nd largest from Bangladesh and third largest from UK.
- Tamil Nadu witnesses most foreign tourist visits.
- Although ITAs in India registered a growth of 10.6%, countries like Vietnam and Indonesia continue to have higher shares of FTAs than India
- Internationally ranking pitiably 41st in terms of Foreign Footfalls- India gets only 77 lakh foreign tourists every year.
- Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015 (World Economic Forum) ranks India 52nd out of 141 countries overall in areas other than Foreign Footfall.
- India has quite good air transport (ranked 35th)
- Reasonable ground transport infrastructure (ranked 50th).
- Target: In next 3-5 years, we want to receive >1 crore tourists (and 1% of the ITAs should be in India)
Who qualifies as a foreign tourist?
- Staying at least twenty four hours in the country
- Purpose of whose journey can be classified as either
- Leisure (recreation, holiday, health, study, religion and sport)
- Business, family, mission, meeting
- Following are excluded from category of Foreign Tourists:
- Persons arriving to take up an occupation or engage in activities remunerated from within the country are not treated as foreign tourists
- Nationals of Nepal and Bhutan entering India through land routes, are also not included in the data series on foreign tourism
Burning issue of Foreign Tourists and Sexual Assaults
- Its noteworthy that 40% of the foreign tourists who came to India in 2013 were women
- Delhi has repeatedly topped the survey for being the most unsafe and hostile city for Foreign Tourists.
- How can this be prevented?
- Foreign tourists in India are advised to take the same precautions like domestic tourists take
- Code of conduct for tourist destinations and the stake holders there has also been fixed.
- Accused should be apprehended by the police authorities within a few days and action be initiated to bring the culprits to justice
- E.g. In the Madhya Pradesh incident in March, 2013, the accused were tried in a Fast Track Court and sentenced to life imprisonment within four months.
What are other benefits of Tourism Sector to India?
- Contributes to 9% of global GDP, In India’s case it contributed 6.8% of the GDP
Employment and demographics:
- It is a labour intensive industry (Employs 8.7% of India’s workforce) and provides livelihood to non-farm sector
- Although Tourism in India being largely an unorganized sector activity, potential for employment is still untapped
- Women comprise 70% of the workforce and 50% of the workforce is below 25 years
Other benefits apart from Employment:
- Helps preserve heritage and culture (Fundamental Duty and DPSP)
- Niches such as Rural tourism, and Ecotourism can help reverse migration to urban areas
- Tourism sector can be a powerful antidote to poverty, it eliminates the disadvantage of market inacessibility suffered by poor in respect of their goods and services by bringing consumers to their doorstep
Tourism reforms by integration with ongoing schemes
It is said that Tourism as a sector doesn’t need huge budgetary expenditure for its rise as a “sunrise industry”. Here, we look at some of the ways we can make it so by integrating with ongoing schemes of Government of India.
1. Infrastructure Reforms and Tourism
- Sagarmala project beginning with Char Dham Yatra linking Puri Jagannatha Temple to Dwaraka by sea via various places off religious interest enroute
- MNREGA labour for creating permanent assets like tourism infrastructure and facilities
2. Taxation Reforms, Startup India and Tourism
- Solve the Multiple Taxation Issues (give tax concessions to Tourism Sector)
- Tour Operators don’t need to pay service tax, if serving foreign tourist for foreign trips. (e.g. Yatra.com etc)
- Special Tourism Zones shall be notified and developed to encourage investment in identified areas along with PPP
- Incentivize Startups which promote Tourism in Niche areas such as Adventure Tourism, Ecotourism, Rural Tourism
- Devise a National Tourist Maps promoting Unique / Mystery Spots, and Less Known Destinations
3. Tourist Training Schools, Skill India and Tourism
- Skill and Etiquettes training to tour operators
- Certification programmes like Hunar se Rozgar tak (HSRT) and earn while you learn programs
- Vocational training for tourist guides hospitality business
- Aims to train 8th class passouts (upto age of 28 years) in Food Production and Beverages services
- Conducted through Institute of Hotel Management and Food Craft Institutes
- Diploma in Tourism Management through ITIs
4. Swachh Bharat and Tourism:
- Litter/Recycling Bins at accessible places
- Special focus on cleanliness and women safety of tourist sites
- Partnering with Shulabh International (NGO) for scaling up pay-and-use toilets rather than depending on free public utilities (as it has been observed that former type remain more user friendly due to regular maintenance than government ones)
5. Green Urban Policies and Tourism
- Attempts should be made to design climatically responsive and location sensitive tourism architecture
- Use energy efficient materials for pavements leading to a tourist landmark (minimal use of hardscape materials)
- Solar lighting and use of renewable energy must be encouraged
6. Conservation and Tourism
- Adopt the principle of “First Conservation Later Tourism” for Cultural Heritage
- Discourage fountains and water based elements in areas facing water paucity
- Discourage large scale illumination in areas with electricity shortage (Without compromising on security, of course)
7. Sugamya Bharat (Accessible India) and Tourism
- Promote Universally accessible infrastructure for ease of access by differently abled and elderly
- Use signages that conform to World Tourism Organization, and UNESCO charters for World Heritage Sites
Annex: Eased norms for Tourit Visa
- Will increase foreign tourists by 25%.
- Foreigner applies online (as opposed to Consulate/Embassy) he’ll get Visa in five days
- Visa on arrival
- Foreigner applies online three days before his arrival in India
- Gets visa on airport, 30 days validity
- As of 2015, this facility has been enlarged to cover 180 countries