India’s tourism industry is a significant economic multiplier and is getting more crucial as the nation aims for rapid economic growth and the creation of employment opportunities. Data show that domestic tourism has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, even exceeding it in some cases. This is evident in a record 1.84 crore domestic tourists visiting Jammu and Kashmir in 2022. Similarly, foreign tourist arrivals are expected to reach pre-pandemic levels.
However, there are many challenges associated with this sector:
- 1. Infrastructure: Tourists in India still face many infrastructure related problems like inadequate roads, water, sewer, hotels and telecommunications etc.
- 2. Safety and security: Safety and security of tourists, especially of the foreign tourists, is a major hurdle to tourism development. Attacks on foreign nationals raise questions about India’s ability to welcome tourists from far away countries. Increasing the rate of Sexual Abuse of women, Theft, and Credit Card Fraud. Moreover, Identity Theft, Food Poisoning, and Terrorism. Also, Public Violence is affecting Indian Tourism to a high intent.
- 3. Seasonality: Seasonality in tourism, with the busy season being limited to six months from October to March and heavy rush in November and December.
- 4. Lack of Skilled Manpower: There is a dearth of skilled manpower especially multi-lingual tour guides or hotel staff.
- 5. Pollution and Climate Change: Our major tourist sites (heritage sites) are also affected by pollution.
- 6. Unsustainable Tourism: In India, especially in the Himalayan regions, where resources are already scarce, unsustainable tourism often puts pressure on natural resources through the overconsumption of natural resources. The disasters in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath region stand as a strong example.
- 1. The Ministry of Tourism has released declaration of “Visit India Year 2023” which aims to promote various tourism products and destinations to increase India’s share in the global tourism market.
- 2. Dharamshala Declaration:
- – The Declaration affirms commitment towards developing “sustainable and responsible tourism” and positions India as a “global leader in the tourism sector by 2047”.
- -It announces to bring in necessary interventions including visa reforms, ease of travel, travel-friendly immigration facilities at airports and openness to international travel.
- -Short Term Goals: The Indian tourism industry will strive to recover to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2024.
- -Medium Term Goals: By 2030, the Indian economy is expected to grow at 7-9% and tourism-related goals are USD 250 billion GDP contribution; 137 million jobs, 56 million foreign tourist arrivals and USD 56 billion in foreign exchange earnings.
- -Long Term Goal: Ensuring the positioning of India as one of the leaders in the world in the tourism sector and revenue goal of $1 trillion by 2047.
- 3. In partnership with the Ministry of Education, the Tourism Ministry has begun establishing ‘Yuva Tourism’ clubs to nurture young ambassadors of Indian tourism on the lines of NSS and NCC.
- 4. The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways is aiming to make India an attractive cruise tourism destination using state-of-the-art infrastructure as India’s middle class is now prioritising some of their discretionary spending on new experiences such as cruises.
- 5. In partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs, tourism officers have been placed in 20 Indian missions in countries that contribute to some of the highest foreign tourist arrivals in India. Their role includes facilitating and providing inputs for country-specific sensibilities and having them reflected in tourism products.
- 6. Similarly, with the Ministry of Roadways and the Petroleum Ministry, steps are being taken to ensure that highways and fuel stations have clean sanitation infrastructure. The Ministry of Tourism is also funding several commercial flight routes in partnership with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, making them viable.
- 7. Swadesh Darshan Scheme: Under it, the Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for infrastructure development of 13 identified theme based circuits.
- 8. National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive: PRASAD Scheme was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in the year 2014-15 with the objective of holistic development of identified pilgrimage destinations.
- 9. Iconic Tourist Sites: Buddhist Sites at Bodhgaya, Ajanta & Ellora have been identified to be developed as Iconic Tourist Sites (aimed at enhancing India’s soft power).
- 10. Buddhist Conclave: Buddhist Conclave is organised every alternate year with the objective of promoting India as a Buddhist Destination and major markets around the globe.
- 11. Dekho Apna Desh’ Initiative: It was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in 2020 to encourage the citizens to travel widely within the country thus enabling the development of Domestic Tourism tourist facilities and infrastructure.
India has always been a popular destination for travellers exploring spiritual enlightenment and self-discovery.
The goal of Visit India 23 would be attracting tourists from all over the globe to experience firsthand the warm hospitality and cultural and natural attractions of India.
The year 2023 brings G 20 Presidency to India which will be held in 200 meetings over 50 locations. Every delegate or visitor who is in India to attend the G-20 summit will return as a brand ambassador and spread the word on India’s rich cultural, spiritual and natural heritage. Hence, 2023 stands as a potentially strong year to revive and restructure tourism in the country for maximum gains.