“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – travelling has been a part of the history of mankind, since time immemorial. Tourists have been a channel through which ideas, inventions, and goods have been exchanged throughout the world. Tourists have also been a channel through which religions and diseases have travelled from one continent to the other. With improvement in transportation and average incomes, number of tourists have also increased. Today, tourism is a thriving sector of all economies, globally. Over the years, India has generated more attention from the world. People throughout the world are amazed by the diversity and variety in our country. However, one must admit that the size of our tourism industry is not as huge as it must’ve been, considering its rich cultural and historical heritage. The essay looks into the scope of India’s tourism industry, and the ways in which it can be India’s next big thing.
The common definition of tourism is when people travel from one place to another for recreation purposes this whole process is called tourism and people who travel are known as tourists. With time, scope and meaning of tourism has changed. People now visit places seeking treatment, education, business, etc. Hence, tourism can be in modern time called movement of people for a specific reason from recreation to medication, study, etc.
Tourism in India: recent growth and trends
Tourism in India is growing at a steady rate of 6.8% per year and generated up to 9.6% of our GDP (14.3 Lakh). It is accountable for 9.3 % total job available in India. Tourism plays a vital role in the economic development of a country. Tourism is the second largest foreign exchange earner in India. The tourism industry employs a large number of people, both skilled and unskilled. It promotes national integration and international brotherhood.
Why do people choose India?
·India has fascinated people from all over the world with her secularism and her culture. There are historical monuments, beaches, places of religious interests, hill resorts, etc. that attract tourists. Every region is identified with its handicraft, fairs, folk dances, music and its people
·Bounded by the Himalayan ranges in the north, and surrounded on three sides by water (Arabian sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean), India offers a wide array of places to see and things to do. The enchanting backwaters, hill stations and landscapes make India a beautiful country.
·India has a composite culture. There is a harmonious blend of art, religion and philosophy. Though India has been subjected to many invasions in the past, she has retained her originality even after absorbing the best of external influences. Religions like Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism etc. co-exist in India. Every region is identified with its handicrafts, fairs, folk dances, music and its people.
·Some of the places that attract a huge number of tourists are - Agra, Jaipur, Jhansi, Hyderabad, Nalanda, Mysore, Delhi, Mahabaleshwar, etc.
Haridwar, Shirdi, Varanasi, Allahabad, Puri, Ajmer, Amritsar, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Rameshwaram etc. are places of religious importance.
Srinagar, Kullu, Manali, Dehradun, Darjeeling, Ooty etc. are famous hill resorts.
·The Department of Tourism - promotes international and domestic tourism in the country. It provides infrastructure and carries out publicity campaigns. It provides information aimed at promotion of tourist sites in the world market. It also formulates policies and programmes for the promotion of tourism in India.
·The Tourism Advisory Board - recommends measures for promotion of tourist traffic in India. It reviews the tourist trends and suggests appropriate measures. Some of the places, have been converted into heritage hotels. For example, the exotic train ‘palace on wheels’ which travels through Rajasthan attracts a lot of foreign tourists.
·Many states have taken necessary steps to promote tourism. Goa promotes water sports like sailing, scuba diving and rafting. Kashmir offers the pleasure of winter sports like skiing and mountaineering. Kerala has introduced the concept of houseboats in its lagoons. Himachal Pradesh has developed winter sports in the state.
·Since 2005 The Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) stared a campaign called ‘Incredible India’ to encourage tourism in India. For better growth, the department divided different places in different section like spiritual tourism, spa tourism, ecotourism, and adventure tourism.
·India is a growing destination for medical treatment or medical tourism. People travel from abroad, mostly less developed countries to seek treatment unavailable to them elsewhere.
The advantage of tourism
According to UN world tourism organisation, tourism accounts for 10% of world’s GDP. 7% of world’s exports and 30% of world’s service exports are dependent on tourism sector. International arrivals in the world increased by 4.5% in the year 2015. Considering these statistics, one can conclude that tourism is in fact one of the significant sectors in the world economy. Can tourism be the next big thing for India? The answer is a yes. With rising incomes within India, the number of Indians travelling from one part of India to the other will increase. In addition to this, with improvement in connectivity, infrastructure, and outreach across the world through various channels, India should also focus on attracting more tourists from abroad.
·The major importance of tourism is that it brings foreign money in our nation. When foreigners come to India they spend their currency or their currency converted in our rupee.
·It results in inflow of money which in turn increases employment opportunities. Increase in number of tourists eventually leads to number of service providers and when people start to earn through this industry it means employed is generated.
·When employment increases, GDP also increases and a high GDP is a sign of a developed nation.
·Growth can happen without any significant damage to environment. The investment on creation and maintenance of infrastructure for promoting tourism is sustainable.
·Our rich cultural and historical heritage has not been tapped to expand tourist sector. Museums and places of historical interest are neglected. However, such places can attract people with interest in history. If promoted in India and abroad this could attract more tourists to India from within the country and abroad.
·With improvement in infrastructure, training of employees in hospitality sector, connectivity and cleanliness, tourism sector could emerge as one of the biggest sectors in India.
·Recurring incidents of rapes, kidnaps, and various other atrocities prevent foreigners from choosing India as their tourist destination. They see India as an unsafe land.
·Terrorism is a global problem. The terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, Maoists attacks in West Bengal and Bihar, and Bodo agitations in northeastern hill areas greatly affect the tourism in our country and in these places that have abundant potentials.
·The pandemic has given a jerk to the tourism industry, which has been a great source of income to the country, due to shut down offices of travel companies and tourist destinations.
Steps to improve and make India a prime tourist destination
About 10.89 million foreign tourists visited India in 2019. But, according to the UN World Tourism Organization, 50 million Indians travelled overseas in 2019, which is a big reason to worry. There is a huge gap between people coming and going out of the country which needs to be filled, in order to see India as a huge tourist destination.
The role of the government in tourism development has been redefined from that of a regulator to that of a catalyst. Apart from marketing and promotion, the focus of tourism development plans is now on integrated development of enabling infrastructure through effective partnership with various stakeholders. The launch of several branding and marketing initiatives by the Government of India such as Incredible India! and Athiti Devo Bhava provides a focused impetus to growth. Recently, the Indian government has also released a fresh category of visa – the medical visa or M visa, to encourage medical tourism in India.
The tourist infrastructure in India should be strengthened. Airports and railway stations should provide information to the tourists about the tourist destination. Government owned hotels should be properly managed. Cities should be made tourist friendly.
As the concept of medical tourism continues to gain momentum in India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with the help of the Ministry of Tourism, is taking numerous initiatives in order to maintain international standards in medical facilities.
Development of ecotourism can be a way to generate income without destroying the environment. This will also be welcomed as a strategy to combat global warming. In this regard, North East India has huge potential as a tourist destination.
Everybody seeks to grab every chance to wander around the world. Some love to travel to hills, while others at the sea side, another proportion of people want to travel to desert areas, and the remaining like to scratch out every corner of the world. For a developing country like India, it is an opportunity to become the top countries to offer a great travelling experience to those coming to the country in order to observe its beauty. Post pandemic, if the government promotes tourism in the country, it will create a massive opportunity for the economy to grow positively.