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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. 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

  • E-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

Any doubts?

  1. bala murali

    i read in IYB that movies like life of Pi which helpful for attracting more tourists from around the world to India at the same time india has strong hold in soft power like AYUSH which paved the way for medical tourism

  2. bala murali

    We can use Corporate social responsibility for development of tourism sites at the same time they can use their brand value in tourism sites for win – win situation for both

  3. V

    start-ups in tourism gives development.
    India have wonderful monuments but don’t have transport facilities.
    national waterway-will helpful

  4. Kiran Gundlapalli

    If the SIM cards that provide is from BSNL, it will be more helpful for a
    state-owned telecommunications company

Govt set to expand Buddhist tourism circuit to 21 more states

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Places associated with Buddha

Mains level: Expanding spiritual tourism in India


Expansion of Buddhist Circuit

  1. Earlier envisaged by the government as mainly comprising seven major Buddhist pilgrimage sites, in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the ‘Buddhist Circuit’ will now be expanded to 21 other states.
  2. The Ministry of Tourism has identified stupas and viharas in these states, around which small intra-state Buddhist zones will be developed
  3. These include states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Kerala, West Bengal, Goa, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir
  4. Under the Ministry’s Swadesh Darshan scheme, the development of Sanchi, Satna, Rewa, Mandsaur, and Dhar. will be carried out

India’s first trans-national tourist circuit

  1. The Buddhist circuit is being imagined as India’s first trans-national tourist circuit, with efforts to promote tourism starting from Lumbini in Nepal, where Buddha was born, to the sites in India he traversed, including Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Rajgir, Vaishali, Sravasti and Sankasia (in UP and Bihar)
  2. The Tourism ministry is also in talks with the World Bank and the Japanese government for funding of infrastructure projects connected with these sites
  3. The ministry also plans to involve the private sector in building tourism infrastructure pertaining to the circuit
  4. Under the plan, Sarnath would be made the hub of Buddhist tourism in India and connected to other sites through air, rail and road transport

Govt launches e-FRRO scheme to provide hassle-free travel for foreigners


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: e-FRRO scheme

Mains level: Various initiatives to revive tourism sector


e-FRRO scheme

  1. The Union home ministry has flagged off the e-FRRO (e-Foreigners Regional Registration Office) scheme to expedite visa services for foreigners visiting India
  2. The e-FRRO scheme is aimed at building a centralized, transparent online platform for foreigners to avail visa related services and to provide faceless, cashless and paperless services to the foreigners with a user-friendly experience

Services provided

  1. In the new system, foreigners would be able to get as many as 27 visa and immigration-related services in India from the comfort of their place of stay
  2. Using the e-FRRO application, foreigners can apply online and obtain the services through email or post without appearing in person at the FRRO office

[pib] Launch of e-FRRO scheme


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: e-FRRO scheme

Mains level: Improving India’s position in global tourism


e-FRRO: e-Foreigners Regional Registration Office – to provide fast and efficient services to foreigners visiting India so that they have a pleasant experience of their stay here.

  • Aimed at building a centralized, transparent online platform for the foreigners to avail visa related services and to provide Faceless, Cashless and Paperless services to the foreigners with user-friendly experience
  • The e-FRRO scheme would be a quantum jump in improving the ease of service delivery with respect to foreigners visiting and staying in India.
  • In the new system, foreigners would be able to get as many as 27 Visa and Immigration related services in India from the comfort of their place of stay.
  • Using the e-FRRO application, foreigners can apply online on the portal and obtain the service(s) through email/post without appearing in person at the FRO/FRRO office.

[pib] Learn more about Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India

  1. We recently launched the implementation of the Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India (STCI) in association with Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI)
  2. The STCI follow the guidelines set by the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC)
  3. These guidelines have been evolved under the guidance of the United Nations’ agencies viz. UNEP and UNWTO
  4. STCI had been developed for the accommodation, tour operators and beaches, backwaters and lakes sectors of the tourism industry

[pib] Quick pointers on Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD Schemes

  1. Ministry of Tourism’s schemes
  2. Swadesh Darshan: Integrated Development of Theme Based Tourist Circuits
  3. Investment in tourism infrastructure for development of Buddhist Circuit in India under its Swadesh Darshan Scheme
  4. PRASAD: National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive.
  5. Under PRASAD 12 cities have been identified for development initially, namely: Amritsar, Ajmer, Dwaraka, Mathura, Varanasi, Gaya, Puri, Amaravati, Kanchipuram, Vellankanni, Kedarnath and Guwahati.

Incredible India Investors’ Summit

  1. The summit was recently organised by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with industry body CII and the Tourism Finance Corporation of India
  2. Aim: Inviting investments from foreign and domestic players to fund 700 tourism-related projects from 29 states requiring over Rs.50,000 crore
  3. Five states- Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Chattisgarh – signed 86 MoUs worth close to Rs.15,000 crore

More than 1 lakh tourists availed of e-visa in March

  1. News: The govt is planning to extend the e-visa facility to more categories of tourists
  2. In March 2016, a total of 1.16 lakh visitors used the facility, an increase of a whopping 347% over the same period a year ago
  3. Reason: In Nov – 2015 and Feb – 2016, the e-visa facility for citizens was extended to many countries
  4. Measures: Tourism ministry has requested the MHA to allow MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events) e-visas as well
  5. Centre is working with State govts to develop Khajuraho, Sanchi, Bodhgaya, Varanasi and Tirupati as MICE tourism destinations in India

Promotion of Silk Route Tourism


  1. Context: United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Silk Road Programme for promotion of Silk Route tourism
  2. This is a collaborative platform of 33 member states dedicated to enhance sustainable tourism development along the historic Silk Road route
  3. Membership: India at present is not member of this programme
  4. Relevance: Ministry of Tourism has received a communication in Feb 2015 from UNWTO requesting for official partnership between India and the Silk Road Programme
  5. Way ahead: Matter has been referred to Ministry of External Affairs

Delhi tops in crimes against foreign tourists

  1. News: Delhi topped the list for crimes against foreign tourists, despite its efforts to curb crime in the city
  2. The popular tourist state of Goa came second, followed by UP and Rajasthan
  3. Background: National Crime Records Bureau began compiling data relating to crimes against foreigners only in 2014
  4. Initiatives: The tourism ministry has taken various measures to ensure safety of both domestic and foreign tourists, such as 24*7 helpline which provides advice on action to be taken during times of distress
  5. Statistics: The foreign tourist arrivals have increased in the period 2011 – 2015

Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat Programme to be Launched

  1. Aim: To link States and Districts in an annual programme
  2. That connects people through exchanges in areas of language, trade, culture, travel and tourism.
  3. Context: Announced in General Budget 2016-17
  4. It is proposed to create a closer engagement between States and Districts in a structured manner

Extension of e-Tourist Visa scheme

  1. Context: e-Tourist Visa (e-TV) facility will be extended to 37 more countries from tomorrow.
  2. Relevance: Total count of countries under the scheme will become 150
  3. About Scheme: Government of India had launched the e-TV facility on November 27, 2014
  4. Till now the scheme has been extended to 113 countries at 16 Indian airports designated for providing e-Tourist visa service
  5. At present on an average 3,500 e-Tourist Visas are being granted daily to foreign nationals

‘Swachh Paryatan Mobile App’ Launched

  1. Context: App facilitate the general public to communicate their complaints about any unclean area/garbage piles in and around tourist destinations
  2. Suggestions from public and tourists are solicited on this Mobile App
  3. Relevance: Initially, 25 Adarsh Smarak Monuments Protected by ASI identified for inclusion in the App
  4. Ministry: by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India through DeGS and NIC.
  5. Monitored by: The Project Monitoring Unit of Swachh Bharat Mission in Ministry of Tourism
  6. Function: This enables a citizen to take photograph of garbage at the monument and upload the same along with his/her remarks

Along with e-visas, tourists to get SIM cards too

  1. The NDA govt has set up a committee to finalise the plan to help tourists arriving on e-visas gain immediate access to mobile connectivity.
  2. Currently, it takes a foreign tourist a minimum of 4-6 hours to get a SIM card activated.
  3. A five-member panel headed by Tourism Secretary Vinod Zutshi, is working on modalities.
  4. The e-Tourist Visa is available for citizens of 113 countries arriving at 16 airports.
  5. The government is also mulling over extending e-visa to seaports.

Govt. to set up three committees to address issues in medical tourism

  1. The govt. has set up 3 sub-committees in an attempt to promote the medical tourism sector.
  2. They will look into the issues of regulation, accreditation and marketing of medical and wellness tourism in the country.
  3. Govt. is going to propose hassle-free visa facility to medical tourists.
  4. Govt. will engage with tour and travel operators and ensure that a transparent system of medical facilities is provided.
  5. The govt. had last year announced the setting up of the National Medical and Wellness Tourism Promotion Board.

Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India

Ministry of Tourism has launched a Comprehensive Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India (STCI) for 3 major segments of tourism industry.

  1. They are Tour Operators, Accommodation and Beaches, Backwaters, Lakes & Rivers sectors.
  2. Hotels at the project stage itself are required to incorporate various eco-friendly measures.
  3. It includes Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), Rainwater Harvesting System, pollution control, measures for energy and water conservation etc.

Buddhist Tourism Circuit Special Train Commences first Journey

  1. Indian Railways is operating Buddhist Tourism Circuit Special Train through IRCTC.
  2. Launched in 2007, with objective of offering a safe, comfortable & reliable tour package for international as well as domestic travelers on the Buddhist Circuit.
  3. Train has been awarded the coveted National Tourism Award of Excellence by the Ministry of Tourism, in Feb 2009.
  4. This train has become very popular among the pilgrims and tourist across the world.
  5. Buddhist Circuit Train, popularly known as Mahaparinirvan Express is a tourist train, to attract Buddhist pilgrims as Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Varanasi and Kushinagar.

Tourism sector a gold mine to be explored: PM

  1. PM stressed the need for improving the tourism sector across the country.
  2. The Central govt. is focusing on strengthening the facilities at every tourist destination and transit points.
  3. Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country and it had the potential to offer employment opportunities even to the poorest of the poor.
  4. The PM emphasised the need for building world-class infrastructure to attract tourists as well as making the tourism sector sustainable.

Gujarat launches industrial tourism

  1. Gujarat tourism Corporation along with Akshar Travels begins “Industrial tour package”.
  2. Wherein, person can see Nano plant in Sanand, Pipavav port near Amreli, Alang ship breaking yard in Bhavnagar and Amul Dairy in Anand.
  3. Locations of places important for match the following type MCQs in Indian Economic Geography.

Gujarat government launches industrial tourism to showcase development

  1. The tour package is called as Industrial Tour of Gujarat and will cover some of the major industrial attractions of the state.
  2. It includes Tata Nano plant in Sanand, Amul Dairy in Anand, Alang ship breaking yard in Bhavnagar and Pipavav port near Amreli.
  3. The package will also take tourists to salt pans near Okha and Kadi in Mehsana, which has the highest number of cotton gins in Asia.
  4. It is a first of its kind initiative in India.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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