For the tourism sector, the Government of India recently unveiled an ambitious plan for recovery to pre-pandemic levels by 2024, a $250 billion contribution to GDP by 2030 and a world leader by 2047, with a long-term revenue goal of $1 trillion by 2047, when the country turns 100.
This plan is part of the ‘Dharamshala Declaration 2022,’ which was adopted at the conclusion of the three-day National Tourism Conference.
- In terms of foreign tourist arrivals, the Gulf countries, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany continue to be the top source markets.
- Even though the numbers have decreased, the trend has not changed.
- On this front, the Centre announced several visa reforms, as well as changes to make immigration more visitor-friendly.
- E.g., with Durga Puja being added to the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage, a provision was made for puja passes for foreign visitors to allow them quick access to the pandals and avoid long lines.
- Tamil Nadu marketed itself as a medical tourism destination, accounting for 40% of all medical tourists visiting India.
- The cities of Chennai, Vellore, and Coimbatore receive the greatest number of such visitors from the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
- Aside from utilising the PM Gati Shakti initiative, there is a need to work on establishing Yuva Tourism clubs (on the lines of NCC) at the district and mandal levels, and private players can also be involved in special cases.
About the tourism sector in India –
- In the past 75 years, India has become synonymous with tourism, spirituality, transformation, culture and diversity.
- The Tourism sector generated Rs 16.91 lakh crore (USD 240 billion) or 9.2% of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018 and has supported around 42.67 million jobs or 8.1% of total employment.
Steps taken to promote tourism in India –
- The Ministry of Tourism has launched a number of initiatives and implemented a four-pronged development strategy that focuses on —
- Improving the connectivity – air, rail, and roads.
- Enhancing the tourism infrastructure and dependent services.
- Streamlining branding and promotion.
- Showcasing the culture and heritage.
- The new National Tourism Policy will be released before the next Budget session.
- Various tourist circuits are being promoted and a new ‘Ambedkar Circuit’ and ‘Himalayan Circuit’ will also be promoted under the action plan for development of tourist circuits.
- A number of projects have been sanctioned under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme for building tourist infrastructure across various themes.
- The Ministry of Tourism has recently launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme 2.0 with the objective to develop sustainable and responsible destinations following a tourist and destination centric approach.
- The PRASHAD Scheme aims to strengthen the tourist facilities around spiritual locations, under which 39 projects have been sanctioned in 24 States.
- According to the Ministry of Tourism, the financial assistance to the tourism sector, which is the biggest sufferer due to Covid 19, continues to be extended up to 31st March, 2023.
The National Tourism Conference 2022 –
- The National Conference of State Tourism Ministers was organised by the Ministry of Tourism (at Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh) to discuss issues related to development of tourism in the country.
- It aims —
- To create a direct dialogue with the States on schemes, policies and steps being taken at a national level for overall tourism improvement in India.
- To be a platform for sharing best practices, successful projects, and tourism product opportunities.
- To build a common vision for tourism and its growth as we move towards India @ 2047.
- The Conference holds significance in the current context of India’s G20 presidency (in 2023). G-20 will be used as a platform to showcase India’s tourism potential to the world.
The Dharamshala Declaration 2022 –
- The Conference ended 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”.
- It states that all the major indices of tourism have started showing signs of recovery toward the pre-pandemic levels such as domestic air passenger traffic, hotel occupancy and tourist footfalls.
- It also says that the National Tourism Policy has been drafted with following objectives —
- In the short term, to recover to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2024.
- The country is estimated to achieve USD 150 billion GDP contribution and 15 million foreign tourist arrivals by that period.
- In the medium term (that is 2030), tourism-related goals are USD 250 billion GDP contribution; 137 million jobs and 56 million foreign tourist arrivals.
- In the long term, to revive India’s tourism and targets to achieve USD 1 Trillion by the sector in 2047.
- It says that the government will continue to support MSMEs in the tourism sector and capitalise on the employment generating potential of the industry.
- The Dharamshala Declaration also affirms the plan to position India as a major tourism destination during its presidency of G-20 next year.
- It announces necessary interventions including visa reforms, ease of travel, travel-friendly immigration facilities at airports and openness to international travel.