The Tourism Policy of India Needs a Major Shakeup

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The worldwide expenditure for personal travel and tourism for the year 2010 is $ 3110.870 billion. Out of that India’s share for the same year was just $117.9 billion. That was just a paltry sum for a huge country like India with large historic and natural treasures. Now lets check how much tourism sector accounts for job in India. WTTC says around 10% of total work force is employed in the tourism sector. The percentage is much low compared to smaller countries like Thailand which employs around 15% of its work force in the tourism sector. Another data shows that India is not even in the top 10 list in terms of tops earlier from tourism, expenditure on tourism or most visited cities worldwide.

The abysmal figure to a large extent is due to the lack of proper information distribution system whether in India or outside. The governments apathy coupled with bad infrastructure resulted in poor earning from tourism. The tourism policy was drafted by the then NDA government in 2002. The policy states to make tourism a major engine of growth and decided to focus on 7 key areas:

1. Make the tourist feel welcomed
2. Make information available
3. Augmentation of facility
4. Safety of tourists
5. Extend co-operation to tourists
6. Develop infrastructure
7. Maintain cleanliness

The above 7 points are valid and if properly implemented can wonders for Indian tourism and thereby the Indian economy. Tourism has increased a lot since the liberalization of the economy in 1991. But it is still a huge under performer. I feel India has lot more to do in terms of the 7 points.

One of the good point is recently we can see many tourism related advertisements from the union government like Incredible India and followed by many state governments like karnataka, Kerela, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal etc. The north eastern part of India though having huge bio diversity was lagging behind big time. However, these days I see advertisements on the 7 states of north east and Sikkim. Due credit to Karnataka and Kerela, they were one of earliest entrant to market tourism. Kerela’s “God’s Own Country” and Karnataka’s One State, many World” very popular.

Tourism these days is one of the largest earner of foreign exchange. A little attention the government can help this sector grow tremendously which in turn will create employment and prosperity. Along with foreign tourists, the government should also took actively at the domestic tourists. Different kind of budget should be available. The private sector should be involved through the public private participation (PPP) model. This private sector like hotels etc should also contribute to the upkeep or restoration effort of historical monuments. As they will be benefited with the increase of tourist inflow.

A lot of noise is being made about the environment but things happen on the ground very slowly. The Aircel – NDTV save tiger project featuring well know personalities is said to have raised Rs 5 crore. This money is said to used to raise a tiger protection force, and train them. This are bright steps but how soon this reflect on the ground will have a defining impact.

Lastly, I will share a table of worldwide tourist and number of tourists India receives. It is a pathetic 0.38%. Data: Ministry of Tourism, India

The data is 10 years old. The present data shows India receives around 5 million annual foreign tourist and 562 million domestic tourism visits. The amount of foreign and domestic tourist can increase many fold. the domestic tourism will increase tremendously if value and budget based options are made available. In the next decade India is expected to grow higher than any other country in terms of tourism.

Check the new tourism draft.