[Burning Issue] Tourism Sector of India



  • The three-day National Conference of State Tourism Minister was held at Dharamshala last year, a first-of-its-kind meeting aimed to discuss, debate and deliberate on modes and mechanisms to develop tourism in India.
  • The three-day National Conference concluded with the adoption of the “Dharamshala Declaration” which affirms commitment toward developing “sustainable and responsible tourism” and positions India as a “global leader in the tourism sector by 2047”.
  • In this context, this edition of Burning issue will elaborate on the tourism sector of India.

What is tourism?

  • Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours.

Types of tourism

  • Domestic tourism: Refers to activities of a visitor within their country of residence and outside of their home (e.g. Indian visiting other parts of India)
  • Inbound tourism: Refers to the activities of a visitor from outside of the country of residence (e.g. a Spaniard visiting Britain).
  • Outbound tourism: Refers to the activities of a resident visitor outside of their country of residence (e.g. an Indian visiting an overseas country).

What is the importance of tourism?

  • Boosts economies: Tourism boosts the revenue of the economy, creates thousands of jobs, develops the infrastructures of a country, and plants a sense of cultural exchange between foreigners and citizens.
  • Satisfy human exploration urge: Tourism is a compulsion driven by the urge to discover new places. Because we have this compulsion to venture into the unknown, we need each other. When humans travel, meet and exchange ideas, civilization flourishes.
  • A major economic sector: the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, ‎food products or automobiles. Tourism has become one of the major players in ‎international commerce and represents at the same time one of the main income ‎sources for many developing countries.

Global tourism industry

  • The Travel and Tourism (T&T) industry directly contributes about 3.6% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and, indirectly contributes about 10.3% to it.
  • As one of the biggest contributors to the global GDP, this industry directly employs nearly 77 million people worldwide, which comprises about 3% of the world’s total employment.
  • The industry also represents about 12% of the total world exports.
  • Continuing world prosperity, growing recognition of tourism’s contribution to employment and economic growth, availability of better infrastructure, focused marketing and promotion efforts, liberalization of air transport, growing intraregional cooperation, and a growing number of Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) are seen as the key drivers for tourism in the next decade.

Indian tourism industry

  • The travel and tourism industry contributed a total of $124.8 billion to the GDP in India in 2015 — this accounted for approximately 10% of India’s total GDP in 2020.
  • A 2014 study found that India was one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations worldwide. Placed eleventh on the list, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP in India was expected to grow an average of 6.4% annually between 2014 and 2024.
  • The sector is expected to grow at an annual average growth rate of 7.9% till 2023, making India the third fastest-growing tourism destination over the next decade.
  • Tourism in India provides 40 million jobs. The industry provided more than 23.5 million jobs in 2015. Over 7.7% of Indian employees work in the tourism industry.
  • The largest source market for visitors to India was the US, followed by Bangladesh and the UK. Outbound travel from India is also forecasted to reach 1.41 million in 2020.
  • According to an official release of PIB, Foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in March 2022 were 3,42,308 with a positive growth rate of 117.9% as compared to 1,23,179 in march 2021, indicating the post-pandemic revival of the tourism sector.
  • The World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Development Index 2021, ranks India 54th out of 117 countries overall.

Prospects of Indian Tourism

  • High diversity: India has a gift with the most prominent diversity in culture. In Addition, geography and art pull in a colossal measure of voyagers to the nation. Different new forms of tourism are offering in recent years are also helping to build up the country’s tourism industry.
  • Multiple tourism types available: Medical tourism, eco-tourism, adventure tourism, and cruise tourism have gained tremendous popularity and attention among foreigners. Now and have the potential for high growth shortly. The Himalayas are the greatest assets of India in adventure tourism.
  • Huge domestic tourist market: Many people from all over the country are attracted to India because of its scenic beauty which spreads from Kashmir in the North to Kanyakumari in the South and Arunachal Pradesh in the East to Gujrat in the West, and multiculturalism. 
  • New tourism sectors opening: In India, the tourism industry is diversifying away from traditional sightseeing tours oriented (primarily places of cultural tourism interest) to a more rapidly expanding market based on the country’s atmosphere and environment, emphasizing the aesthetic, environmental, and socio-cultural implications of projects.

What is the Importance of Tourism in India?  

  • Economic progress: The tourism industry aids and supports foreign exchange reserves. It helps our country in generating foreign exchange. Every year a large number of tourists visit India and other places. Places they go to; Stay and shop in our country.  All this contributes to a significant amount of foreign exchange. Despite the global recession, Indian tourism grew by 9% in 2015 to $42 billion.
  • Source of Income: Tourism is a continuous source of income for public and private income. It led to employment, especially in the hotel industry, hospitality industry, service sector, entertainment, and transportation industry. Even a seller of local commodities like artefacts, handicraft items etc. earns due to tourism.
  • Development of Infrastructure: Have you ever noticed how the look and feel of a place change when it is declared a tourist destination? Indeed, tourism aids and encourages infrastructure development by making way for dams, roads, connectivity, airport improvements, and any other activity that helps a tourist visit a place in a better way. The best example can be the development of Kevadia town in Gujarat due to the statue of unity.
  • Social Progress: Tourism is an excellent way for cultural exchange. It also encourages social progress as tourists learn to show respect, tolerance, and love for each other when visiting new places.
  • Cultural Heritage: Tourism helps to articulate the beauty, art, history, and culture of our country. Different people who come to any country take beautiful cultural concepts with them and spread those concepts to other people by going to other places.
  • Puts India on the map globally: In terms of variety, India has a lot to offer global travelers. With the country’s landscape spreading across six major climatic subtypes, tourists can take their pick from among the snow-clad mountains in the north, the vast expanses of coastlines in the south, the arid deserts in the western regions, and the rich ecosystems in the east. Developing this sector of the economy can thus put India on the map globally since the country has a lot to offer.

Challenges of the Indian tourism sector

  • Lack of Proper infrastructure: An established framework of the foundation includes lots of elements. Proper transportation facilities, health facilities, and stability. Also, uninterrupted connectivity and other human resources are mandatory for enduring tourism.
  • Inaccessibility: There are many tourist destinations in the country, which are not accessible to the poor, women and elderly because of the high cost of transportation, poor connectivity with cities, and tourist-friendly infrastructure. Around 2% of the tourist cannot access many of the tourist spots in the country.
  • Human Resources & Planning: Highly skilful and potential men or women hold an inevitable part of the tourism sector. So currently, there is a lack of workforce in both the hospitality and tourism sectors.
  • Insufficient Digital Promotion and Marketing: Grand promotion and suitable digital marketing push are excessively indispensable for a nation’s travel industry improvement. The Digital marketing of the Indian Tourism industry is not to the point yet.
  • Taxation issues with Indian Tourism: there are high taxes on the entire production for the airline facilities, hotels, and tour operators. Those are highly expensive. That is the most significant reason for losses to other less expensive countries when it comes to tourism.
  • Security issues: Security is one of the Major Challenges of Indian Tourism. There is an increasing rate of Sexual Abuse of women, Theft, and Credit Card Fraud with foreign tourists. Also, Public Violence is affecting Indian Tourism to a high intent.

What needs to be done? Way forward

  • National Tourism Authority: A separate National Tourism Authority (NTA) should be established for executing and operationalizing various tourism-related initiatives. Simple, flexible and elegant processes will be laid down to allow for nimbleness.
  • National Tourism Advisory Board: A National Tourism Advisory Board (NTAB) should be set up to provide overall vision, guidance and direction to the Development of the Tourism Sector in the country.
  • Creating Synergy in Tourism Eco System: In order to ensure synergy at various levels of Government and with the Private Sector, it is important to have a well-defined framework in place.
  • Quality Tourism Framework: A robust framework for quality certification of products and services across all segments like accommodation providers, tour operators, adventure tour operators, and service providers like spa and wellness, guides, restaurants etc. should be laid down.
  • Enhancing the existing luxury tourism products: The existing tourism products such as Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Palace on Wheels etc. should be enhanced and their numbers will also be increased. Haulage charges will be rationalized to make luxury trains viable.
  • Railways can be a game changer: For tourism, Railways have a presence in most parts of the country. Most of the tourist destinations in the country are connected by rail. Indian Railways is working towards promoting tourism in the country by operating more trains connecting tourists’ destinations and also by providing an array of products starting from luxury tourist trains to budget catering tourist trains
  • Prioritize the most popular tourist destinations: Instead of spreading limited resources over a significant number of circuits or centres, develop selected tourist circuits and centres that are popular among tourists.

Steps taken by Government in this regard

  • Swadesh Darshan Scheme The Swadesh Darshan scheme, a flagship programme, was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in 2014–15. The scheme aims to encourage theme-based tourism to promote, develop, and capitalise on India’s tourist potential. The ministry developed tourism-related infrastructure at more than 500 tourist destinations. In April 2022, the ministry sanctioned 10 new projects under the heritage circuit theme.
  • National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry (NIDHI): NIDHI is an initiative towards Aatma nirbhar Bharat to use technology to empower businesses. This programme aims to understand the hospitality sector’s geographical spread, size, structure and capacity. As of 27 August 2022, a total of 45,152 accommodations were registered under this portal.
  • E-tourist Visa: The Indian Government launched this initiative in October 2014. This programme aims to simplify the process of obtaining a tourist visa for foreign nationals. This initiative has helped promote tourism in the country. In 2019, the government granted 2.36 million e-tourist visas.
  • Advertising Campaigns: The Indian Government has promoted tourism and showcased the country’s rich cultural heritage to the world through its ‘Incredible India’ campaign. The campaign aims to promote tourism in India on an international scale. In recent months, the government has taken various initiatives to promote tourism. For instance, it launched the Italy edition of Incredible India Reconnect 2022, a virtual roadshow, to encourage international tourists to visit India.
  • Organising International Buddhist Conclave: once in 2 years to showcase the Buddhist Heritage and International Tourism Mart for showcasing the tourism potential of North East held every year.
  • The National Mission for Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) scheme, was also launched by the Ministry for the development and beautification of pilgrimage sites to tap the growth of domestic tourists driven by spiritual/religious sentiments. The scheme seeks to augment tourism infrastructure at places of pilgrimage to provide better facilities to pilgrims/tourists and enhance their experience.
  • Multilingual Tourist Helpline: The Ministry of Tourism launched the 24×7 Toll-Free Multi-Lingual Tourist Helpline in 12 languages on February 8, 2016.
  • Adarsh Smarak: ASI has identified 100 monuments to be developed as Model Monuments. These monuments would be provided with necessary tourist facilities including Wi-Fi, security, signage, encroachment-free area, and interpretation centres showing short films about the importance of monuments and signboards of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
  • The Dharamshala Declaration: aims to recognise India’s potential in supporting global tourism and also promote domestic tourism
  • Tourist police scheme: The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) has brought out a booklet on the tourist police scheme detailing the mode of setting up of tourist police stations and control rooms, outposts, uniforms, recruitment, qualifications, training and logistics requirements for tourist police stations.

MICE tourism model of Gujarat

  • 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.


  • If the goal of the positioning India as one of the world’s best tourism destinations by 2047, there is a need to integrate various schemes of different ministries. Need to involve various stakeholders, and local communities; necessary interventions at an urban and rural level should be a priority.

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