Tourism Sector

Ministry of Tourism identified Tourism Industry’s potential as a Sunrise Industry. What is Tourism’s importance to our country and what does this Industry need, for it to actualize its potential?

Tourism Sector

Places in news: Nadabet- the Wagah of Gujarat


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nadabet, Seema Darshan Project

Mains level : Promoting Border Tourism

As part of the Seema Darshan project, Union Home Minister inaugurated an Indo-Pakistan border viewing point in Nadabet in Gujarat, around 188 km from Ahmedabad.

Where is Nadabet?

  • Located in the Rann of Kutch region, Nadabet is also known as the ‘Wagah of Gujarat’.
  • It is connected by a narrow bitumen road cutting across mudflats that get inundated during high-tide.
  • The biggest attraction of the Seema Darshan Project is the access provided to civilians to view the fenced international border with Pakistan at ‘Zero Point’.
  • This is guarded round the clock by the Border Security Force (BSF) in Banaskantha district of Gujarat.
  • Pakistan is around 150 metres from the border pillar 960 at Nadabet.
  • Though the BSF conducts a parade similar to the one held at Attari-Wagah border in Punjab every evening during sunset, there won’t be anyone present across the border on the Pakistani side.

What is the Seema Darshan Project?

  • The Seema Darshan project is a joint initiative of the tourism department of the Gujarat state government and the BSF Gujarat Frontier.
  • The focus is to develop border-tourism in the region which has a sparse population and even sparser vegetation.
  • The project aims to boost tourism as well as restrict migration from the villages across the border to the Indian side.

Role of Nadabet in 1971 Indo-Pak War

  • Nadabet played a key role in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War.
  • It was in this region that the BSF not only stalled the enemy trying to invade from the west, but also captured 15 enemy posts.
  • During the war, the BSF had captured 1,038 square km of Pakistan territory in Nagarparkar and Diplo areas.
  • The area was returned to Pakistan after the Shimla Agreement was signed.


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Tourism Sector

Places in news: Cattle Island on Hirakud Reservoir


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cattle Island

Mains level : Not Much

The Odisha Forest and Environment Department is all set to begin ‘Island Odyssey’ and ‘Hirakud Cruise’ ecotourism packages for tourists to islands inside the reservoir.

Cattle Island

  • ‘Cattle island’, one of three islands in the Hirakud reservoir, has been selected as a sight-seeing destination.
  • When large numbers of people were displaced from their villages when the Hirakud dam was constructed on the Mahanadi river in 1950s, villagers could not take their cattle with them.
  • They left their cattle behind in deserted villages.
  • As the area started to submerge following the dam’s construction, the cattle moved up to Bhujapahad, an elevated place in the Telia Panchayat under Lakhanpur block of Jharsuguda district.
  • Subsequently named ‘Cattle island’, it’s surrounded by a vast sheet of water.

Other islands

  • Then there is an “island of bats”, also within the reservoir, just 1 km away from the Debrigarh ecotourism project.
  • It is the habitat of hundreds of bats.
  • Tourists also get a magnificent view of the sunset from the reservoir. ‘Sunset island’ is one of the three stops on the unique boat ride.

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Tourism Sector

Gujarat’s MICE Tourism Policy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MICE tourism

Mains level : Various initiaitves tourism promotion

Gujarat CM has announced the tourism policy for 2021-25, seeking to position the state as the country’s foremost tourist destination, with a focus on investment and livelihood opportunities.

The policy seeks to make Gujarat a hub of “MICE” tourism.

Q. Given the vital importance of the tourism industry in the Indian economy, there is a need to address underneath challenges and adopt a suitable policy for overall growth. Discuss the need for a comprehensive National Tourism Policy.

What is MICE tourism?

  • The acronym “MICE” stands for “Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions”, and is essentially a version of business tourism that draws domestic and international tourists to a destination.
  • The policy aims to make Gujarat one of the top five MICE tourism destinations in the country.

How does the policy proposals to attract MICE tourism?

  • To incentivise international events, the government has announced an assistance of Rs 5,000 to the event organizer per foreign participant staying overnight, subject to an upper limit of Rs 5 lakh.
  • For domestic events, the policy promises financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh per event, capped at three events per organizer per year.
  • For Gujarat to emerge as a venue of big national and international conferences, large convention centres are required.
  • The policy promises special incentives for building big convention centres, including 15% capital subsidy on the eligible capital investment.
  • The government has also promised land on the lease if required.
  • A precondition to avail the incentive is that the convention centre should have at least one hall that can seat a minimum of 2,500 persons.

Why is there a specific focus on MICE tourism?

  • MICE events are major tourism generators, and there is significant scope to tap into it.
  • By incentivizing the organising of MICE events and construction of convention centres in Gujarat, we are trying to plug the gaps.
  • The organizer of an international event can prolong the stay of guests by one or two days, and visitors can visit tourist attractions, of which Gujarat has many.

Tourism Sector

Skal International Asia Area (SIAA)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Skal International Asia Area (SIAA)

Mains level : NA

The UT of Jammu and Kashmir has won the bid to host the 50th annual Skal International Asia Area (SIAA) Congress in 2021 during the annual general meeting recently against four other cities.

Note: Skal International is not an affiliate of the United Nations. This is where a prelims  question can pull a nerve.

Skal International

  • Skal International is a professional organization of tourism leaders around the world, promoting global tourism and friendship.
  • It is a Spain-based tourism body with 15,000 members and 150 chapters across the world.
  • The word Skal comes from Scandinavia and has a long tradition. The “Skal” is a bowl containing a welcome drink that is offered to visitors when entering a home.
  • Its members, the industry’s managers and executives meet at local, national, regional and international levels to discuss and pursue topics of common interest.
  • It is the only international group uniting all branches of the travel and tourism industry.

Tourism Sector

[pib] Thenzawl Golf Resort Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Swadesh Darshan Scheme

Mains level : Various initiaitves tourism promotion

Union Minister for Culture & Tourism has inaugurated the “Thenzawl Golf Resort” Project at Aizawl, Mizoram.

Try this question for mains:

Q. Swadesh Darshan Scheme is one of the most ambitious schemes to transform the tourism industry in India. Comment.

Thenzawl Golf Resort Project

  • The Project is sanctioned under the Integrated Development of New Eco-Tourism under Swadesh Darshan- North East Circuit.
  • It is designed by Graham Cooke and Associates, one of top-ranked Canada based Golf Course architectural firm.
  • It is designed to have facilities of international standards.
  • The competitive advantage of Thenzawl Golf Course is that it will provide quality golfing experience and international facilities at a fair price.

Back2Basics: Swadesh Darshan Scheme

  • Swadesh Darshan Scheme is one of the flagship schemes of the Ministry of Tourism, for development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritized manner.
  • The scheme was launched in 2014 -15 as a Central Sector Scheme.
  • It aims for integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits in the country.
  • Under the scheme, the identified thematic circuits for development are: North-East Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit, Heritage Circuit, Sufi Circuit, and Tirthankara Circuit.
  • “Development of North East Circuit: Imphal & Khongjom” is the first project implemented under the Scheme.

Tourism Sector

Char Dham Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Char Dham Project

Mains level : Not Much

The Chamba Tunnel constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) under Chardham Project was recently inaugurated.

Make a note of all projects and circuits under Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD Scheme.

What is the Char Dham Project?

  • The Char Dham project consists of widening and repairing 889-kilometres of national highways leading to revered shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
  • It is a proposed two-lane expresses National Highway with a minimum width of 10 metres in the state of Uttarakhand.
  • The project includes 900 km national highways will connect whole of Uttarakhand state.

Chamba Tunnel

  • The Chamba tunnel is 440 m long and is a Horseshoe type tunnel with 10-metre carriageway width and 5.5m vertical clearance.
  • The BRO achieved this major milestone by digging up a 440 m long Tunnel below the busy Chamba town on Rishikesh-Dharasu road Highway (NH 94).

Back2Basics: Border Roads Organisation (BRO)

  • The BRO develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighbouring countries and functions under the Ministry of Defence.
  • It is entrusted for construction of Roads, Bridges, Tunnels, Causeways, Helipads and Airfields along the borders.
  • Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service (BRES) and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
  • It is also staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers on extra regimental employment.
  • The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.

Tourism Sector

[pib] “DekhoApnaDesh” Webinar


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : "DekhoApnaDesh" Webinar

Mains level : Various initiaitves tourism promotion

The Ministry of Tourism has launched its “DekhoApnaDesh” webinar series to provide information on the many destinations and the sheer depth and expanse of the culture and heritage of India.

Tourism and tourist sites carry a high incidence of possible prelims questions.  Take time to quickly revise the Swadesh Darshan , PRASHAD Schemes.   Click here for the repository of all such initiaitives.

About DekhoApnaDesh

  • Under this, a series of webinars will showcase the diverse and remarkable history and culture of India through a documentary series on various cities.
  • It will be including various monuments, cuisine, arts, dance forms, natural landscapes, festivals and many other aspects of the rich Indian civilization.
  • The core of the webinar is based on tourism awareness and social history.
  • The webinar will be available in the public domain through the Ministry’s social media handles- “Incredible India” on Instagram and Facebook.
  • The first webinar, which was part of a series that shall unfold, touched upon the long history of Delhi as it has unfolded as 8 cities.

Tourism Sector

Henley Passport Index 2020


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the Index

Mains level : Global visa policies for Indians

The Indian passport is closer to the bottom, ranked 84th in the world, according to the 2020 edition of the Henley Passport Index.

Henley Passport Index

  • According to Henley & Partners publishes the ranking and the Index of the world’s passports “according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa”.
  • The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association of some 290 airlines, including all major carriers.
  • The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations.
  • The data are updated in real time as and when visa policy changes come into effect.

India’s performance

  • Since the index began in 2006, the Indian passport has ranked in a band of 71st to 88th. (The number of passports ranked has, however, varied from year to year.)
  • The Indian passport’s 2020 ranking of 84th translates into visa-free access to 58 destinations, including 33 which give Indians visas on arrival.
  • It ranked higher in both 2019 (82, with visa-free access to 59 destinations) and 2018 (81, with visa-free access to 60 destinations).
  • Twenty of the 58 visa-free access destinations in the 2020 list are in Africa, and 11 each in Asia and the Caribbean.
  • Serbia is the only European country to which Indian passport holders can travel visa-free. There is no major or developed country to which Indian passport holders have visa-free access.

Global performance

  • The top 10 most powerful passports this year are ranked in this order: Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Germany, Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg and Denmark.
  • Japan has been topping the Index for three straight years; according to the 2020 index, its citizens are able to access 191 destinations without having to obtain a visa in advance.
  • Afghanistan at rank 107 is the weakest.
  • Singapore, in second place (same as in 2019), has a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 190.
  • Germany is No. 3 (same position as in 2019), with access to 189 destinations; it shares this position with South Korea, which dropped from the second place it held a year ago.
  • The US and the UK have been falling consistently over successive Indices.

Tourism Sector

[pib] Indian Digital Heritage (IDH) Initiative


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IDH

Mains level : Virtual and Augmented Reality, IDH


The Union Ministry of Culture and Tourism launched a month-long special exhibition titled Indian Heritage in Digital Space. This special exhibition showcases the adaptation and infusion of technologies being developed under the Indian Digital Heritage (IDH) initiative.

Indian Digital Heritage (IDH)

  • This initiative is undertaken by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in the cultural heritage domain of the country.
  • The exhibition demonstrates the outcome of two flagship projects viz., A digital mini-spectacle to showcase the glory of Hampi and Augmented Reality based interactions with physical models of monuments.
  • The goals of these projects are to create digital installations using 3D laser scan data, AR, holographic projections and 3D fabrication,to provide interactive and immersive experiences showcasing the glory of Hampi and five Indian monuments namely Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi; TajMahal, Agra; Sun Temple, Konark; Ramachandra Temple, Hampi ; and RaniKiVav, Patan .
  • These projections are driven by cutting-edge technologies such as 3D fabrication, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality, Holographic Projections and Projection Mapping etc.


A special installation named ‘ViRaasat’, consisting of a scaled-down 3D printed replica shall provide a mixed reality experience to visitors for selected monuments, using laser-scanning, 3D modelling and rendering, 3D printing, computer vision and spatial AR.

Tourism Sector

Tourist arrivals in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Development of Tourism in India

Bangladesh, the United States, and the United Kingdom were the top three countries from where foreign tourists arrived in India in 2018, statistics provided by the Ministry of Tourism to Parliament show.

Foreigners’ arrival in India

  • The Ministry’s data also exhibit a consistent increase in overall foreign tourist arrivals as well as foreign exchange earnings over the years 2016, 2017, and 2018.
  • Among individual states, Tamil Nadu saw the most visits by foreign tourists in 2018 — over 60 lakh in that year. Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh followed, with over 50 lakh and 37 lakh visits respectively.
  • In 2017, arrivals from Bangladesh increased significantly to 21,56,557 from 12,80,409 in the previous year.
  • In 2018, the number further went up to 22,56,675. The trend from Pakistan showed a sharp contrast, with numbers falling from 1,04,720 in 2016 to 44,266 in 2017, and further dropping to 41,659 in 2018.

Tourism Sector

[pib] ICEDASH & ATITHI Initiatives


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ICEDASH & ATITHI Initiatives

Mains level : Various Digital India initiatives

  • Union Ministry of Finance and Corporate Affairs unveiled two new IT initiatives – ICEDASH and ATITHI.


  • ICEDASH is an Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) monitoring dashboard of the Indian Customs helping public see the daily Customs clearance times of import cargo at various ports and airports.
  • With ICEDASH, Indian Customs has taken a lead globally to provide an effective tool that helps the businesses compare clearance times across ports and plan their logistics accordingly.
  • This dashboard has been developed by CBIC in collaboration with NIC.
  • ICEDASH can be accessed through the CBIC website.


  • With ATITHI mobile app,  CBIC has introduced an easy to use mobile app for international travelers to file the Customs declaration in advance.
  • Passengers can use this app to file declaration of dutiable items and currency with the Indian Customs even before boarding the flight to India.
  • ATITHI would in particular create a tech savvy image of India Customs and would encourage tourism and business travel to India.

Tourism Sector

Travel and Tourism Competitive Index 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the Index

Mains level : Development of Tourism in India

  • A report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranking the travel & tourism competitiveness of 140 economies was recently released.

About the Index

  • Published biennially by WEF, Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report and Index benchmarks the Travel & Tourism (T&T) competitiveness of 140 economies.
  • The study scored countries on four indicators — enabling environment; travel and tourism policy and enabling conditions; infrastructure; natural and cultural rankings.
  • The four broad indicators looked at 14 variables, which were further subdivided into 90 indicators such as property rights, efficiency of the legal framework, quality of electricity supply, female labour force participation, visa requirements and the number of World Heritage cultural sites.

India’s progress

  • The biennial report shows that India has made the greatest improvement since 2017 among the top 25 per cent of the countries that were previously ranked.
  • Overall, India is ranked 34, up six places from 2017.
  • India’s highest improvement was in enabling environment, by 10 places to 98.
  • The least improvement is in infrastructure as well as in natural and cultural rankings, by just three places each, but India’s rank was already high in the latter.

Global scene

  • Spain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States are the world’s most travel-ready nations.
  • Japan remains Asia’s most competitive travel and tourism economy, ranking 4th globally.
  • China is the largest travel and tourism economy in Asia-Pacific and 13th most competitive globally.

Tourism Sector

Henley Passport Index 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the index

Mains level : Mobility of Indian Passport holders worldwide

  • The latest Henley Passport Index ranks India at 86, down five places from 81 in 2018. The index ranks passports based on their power and mobility.
  • Last year, an Indian passport holder had visa-free access to 60 countries; this year, it has access to 58.

Henley Passport Index 2019

  • Prepared by Henley and Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm, the Henley Passport Index claims to be the “original ranking of all the world’s passports”.
  • The index gathers data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that manages inter-airline cooperation globally.
  • The Index is updated in real time according to countries’ visa policy changes. It covers 227 destinations and 199 passports.
  • The index receives data from the IATA on a fixed day every year that forms the basis of the index.
  • This data is supplemented by accounting for real-time changes in visa policies using publicly available sources to prepare a visa list, which is a list of destinations that a passport can access visa-free, through a visa on arrival, e-visa or with a traditional visa.

How are passport ranks and scores interpreted?

  • Each passport is attributed with a score and a rank.
  • For instance for 2019, India’s score is 58 and it ranks 86 in the list. Japan and Singapore, on the other hand, are ranked 1 and have a score of 189.
  • The score is the sum of the number of countries accessible by that passport holder without requiring pre-departure government approval for visa-types including a visitor’s permit, visa on arrival or an electronic travel authority (ETA).
  • For every territory/country that a passport holder of a particular country/territory is able to access through these visa-types (without pre-departure government approval), a value of 1 is attributed to it.
  • A value of 0 is attributed to a score when a passport holder has to seek pre-departure government approval for visa-types including e-visa (visas applied for online and received) and visa on arrival.
  • Therefore, the total score becomes the sum total for all the values of 1.
  • For instance, a passport holder from Singapore and Japan can travel to 189 countries/territories without requiring pre-departure government approval.

What does this mean for Indian passport holders?

  • India has a score of 58. That is the number of destinations an Indian passport holder can travel to today, without pre-departure government approval.
  • That is the same as a citizen of any country, on an average, could travel to 13 years ago.
  • In 2006, a citizen, on an average, could travel to 58 destinations without needing a visa from the host nation; by 2018, this number had nearly doubled to 107.
  • Afghanistan holds the weakest passport, with a score and ranking of 25 and 109, respectively. Syria and Pakistan follow with rankings of 107 and 106 and scores of 29 and 30, respectively.
  • Passport rankings point towards the strength of diplomatic relations between countries.
  • In the past decade travel freedom has expanded vastly as a result of the rising number of bilateral visa-waiver programmes signed between different countries and unilateral decisions implemented by governments of some countries.

What assumptions does the index make?

  • The index assumes that the passport is valid, belongs to an adult who is a citizen of the issuing country and that it is not diplomatic, emergency or temporary in nature.
  • It also assumes that the person travelling is doing so alone, rather than in tourist groups and meets all the basic requirements for entry such as hotel reservations.
  • Furthermore, the traveller is assumed to be arriving and departing from the same airport and is seeking a short stay (between three days-several months) for business and tourist purposes only.

Tourism Sector

Iconic Tourist Sites Initiative


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Iconic tourists sites initiative

Mains level : Promoting tourism in India

Iconic Tourist Sites Initiative

  • During her Budget speech earlier this month, Finance Minister said that 17 “Iconic Tourist Sites” in the country would be developed by the government into world class tourist destinations.
  • The initiative was aimed at enhancing India’s soft power. The Sites included:
  1. Taj Mahal & Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh)
  2. Ajanta and Ellora (Maharashtra)
  3. Humayun Tomb, Qutub Minar and Red Fort (Delhi)
  4. Colva Beach (Goa)
  5. Amer Fort (Rajasthan)
  6. Somnath and Dholavira (Gujarat)
  7. Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh)
  8. Hampi (Karnataka)
  9. Mahablipuram (Tamil Nadu)
  10. Kaziranga (Assam)
  11. Kumarakom (Kerala)
  12. Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar)


  • The government is looking at overall development from the tourism point of view in and around these sites — which includes roads and infrastructure, hotels and lodges, connectivity and access.
  • As such, several ministries, from Railways to Civil Aviation, will be involved, while the Tourism Ministry will be the nodal agency.
  • In keeping with international standards, interventions in and around the monuments will have elements of universal accessibility, green technology, and enhanced security for tourists.

Tourism Sector

[pib] Ramayana Circuit


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ramayana Circuit, Swadesh Darshan Scheme

Mains level : Development of Tourism

Ramayana Circuit

  • Ramayana Circuit is one of the fifteen thematic circuits identified for development under the Swadesh Darshan scheme of Ministry of Tourism.
  • The destinations under the circuit will be developed by bridging infrastructural gaps like provision of drinking water, accommodation facilities, etc.
  • Then the 15 places will be connected to form a circuit.
  • The scheme will be a joint effort of the states and the central government. It has a larger aim of providing job opportunities to local artisans, as it promotes local art and craft.

Destinations under Ramayana Circuit

The Ministry has initially identified fifteen destinations for development under the Circuit theme namely:

  • Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur & Chitrakoot (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Sitamarhi, Buxar & Darbhanga (Bihar)
  • Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Mahendragiri (Odisha)
  • Jagdalpur (Chattisgarh)
  • Nashik & Nagpur (Maharashtra)
  • Bhadrachalam (Telangana)
  • Hampi (Karnataka)
  • Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu).

Other such Tourism Circuits

  • Krishna Circuit, Buddhist Circuit and Spiritual Circuit are three of the other 12 circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, which seeks to boost religious tourism in India.
  • As of now, 10 destinations have been finalised under the Krishna Circuit, which will pertain to his journey in India.
  • The 9 remaining circuits, though not for religious tourism, aim to connect all major cultural heritage spots and other touristy spots of India, making travel-planning easier.
  • A similar scheme, the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD), with the same objectives as the Swadesh Darshan scheme, aims to develop 13 pilgrimage cities across India.

Tourism Sector

[pib] Government liberalizes the e-Visa regime


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: New visa norms

Mains level: Promoting tourism through visa norms relaxation


  • Recently, government has made series of amendments in e-visa regime, liberalizing it further and making it more tourist friendly.
  • The e-Tourist Visa which was introduced in Sept. 2014 with 46 countries has now been made applicable for 166 countries.

Changes in e-Tourist Visa

  • On e-Tourist Visa continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa except nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan.
  • In case of nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days.
  • In all cases no registration will be required.

Changes in e-Business Visa

  • Continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa
  • No registration will be required if the stay is for a period of less than 180 days.

Other changes:

  • e-Visa is valid for entry through 2 (two) more designated Airports (Bhubaneswar and Port Blair) raising the total number of such airports to 28.
  • Attending Destination wedding under normal e-Tourist visa or Tourist visa- No separate category of Destination Wedding Visa
  • Foreign nationals who fall sick during their stay in India can now avail medical treatment without converting their visa into Medical Visa.
  • This would take care of sudden medical emergencies.
  • Visa-on-Arrival facility extended to the nationals of Republic of Korea.

Tourism Sector

PM launches Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana


Mains Paper 2: IR | Indian Diaspora

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana

Mains level: Various initiatives for Indian Diaspora


Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana

  1. Hon’ble PM has launched the scheme under which a group of Indian diaspora will be taken on a government-sponsored tour of religious places in India twice a year.
  2. The first batch of 40 Indian-origin people at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will begin their tour.
  3. They will be taken to religious places of all major religions in India and the government will bear all the expenses including the airfare from their country of residence.
  4. All people of Indian-origin aged 45 to 65 can apply and a group will be selected out of them with first preference given to people from ‘Girmitiya countries’ such as Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica.

Who are the Girmitiya ?

  1. Girmityas or Jahajis are descendants of indentured Indian labourers brought to Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, East Africa, the Malay Peninsula, Caribbean and South America (Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname).
  2. They were hired to work on sugarcane plantations for the prosperity of the European settlers and save the Fijians from having to work on these plantations and thus to preserve their culture.
  3. “Agreement” is the term that has been coined into “Girmit”, referring to the “Agreement” of the British Government with the Indian labourers.
  4. It was termed to the length of stay in Fiji and the Caribbean, and when they would be allowed to go back to India.

Tourism Sector

Arunachal govt declares Pakke Hornbill Fest as ‘state festival’


Mains Paper 1: Arts and Culture| Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hornbill Festival, Great Indian Hornbill

Mains level: India’s rich cultural treasure and ways to preserve it


  • The government of Arunachal Pradesh has declared the Pakke Paga Hornbill Festival (PPHF)–the state’s only conservation festival, as a “state festival”.

Pakke Paga Hornbill Festival (PPHF)

  1. The first-ever PPHF was held on January 16–18, 2015.
  2. The organizers had a number of objectives in mind-
  • to recognise the role played by the resident Nyishi tribe in conserving hornbills in the Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR),
  • to devise alternative sources of income for a region that relies on hunting and logging, and
  • to tell the rest of the country about the wonders of the PTR and its surrounding areas.
  1. As part of the festival, visitors are treated to cultural programmes, food stalls, plays, sightseeing, river and village walks, bird-watching, screenings of short films as well as local tribal sports and dances.

About Great Indian Hornbill

  1. The great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) also known as the great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill, is one of the larger members of the hornbill family.
  2. The great hornbill is long-lived, living for nearly 50 years in captivity.
  3. It is predominantly fruit eating, but is an opportunist and preys on small mammals, reptiles and birds.
  4. Its impressive size and colour have made it important in many tribal cultures and rituals.
  5. IUCN status: Vulnerable (uplisted from Near Threatened in 2018).
  6. It is also listed in Appendix I of CITES.

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
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