Tourism sector is going through a very
exciting phase. There is huge spurt in demand from all over the world. Our USP
is that we present unique experience which one may not get in their own
country. We also offer value for money products. The variety is the key word.
One need not travel beyond 500 km to see a lot in a travel circuit concept.
Each circuit is self contained with architecture, wild life, mountains, lakes,
festivals and fairs, Rural Tourism experience, unique food, handicrafts and
tiers of accommodation. This makes India package most exciting. All stake
holders constantly try to innovate and revaluate the way they can offer the
best service to their customers. They try to give plethora of options to choose
from. Each circuit has so many things to offer and they need to see the maximum
within the limited time at disposal. Take for example one chooses to see
Southern Circuit with Thiruvananthapuram as the entry point. He has the
options to have beach holidays viz Kovalam Beach Resorts and also have a
day visit to the tip end of India, Kanyakumari where three oceans meet – Indian
ocean, Arabian sea and Bay of Bengal can
see excellent Sunset view or visit Vivekanenda Rock Memorial. In the itinerary
one can add back water drive from Alleppy Quilon on a Country boat or visit to
colam waterfalls or Periyar wildlife Sancturay, Munnar Hills, Tea and spice
gardens visit Kathakali Art centre or learn Yoga or get Ayurvedic Massage
at any Kerala Ayurvedic resorts. One can also learn some lessons about South
Indian unique cuisine or musical instruments, join festivals or some cultural
events, visit temples, mosque – churches and see the religious harmony. 15 to 20 days will go so fast that one may
find he has covered only 500-550 km but saw so much that he would have never
seen in a visit to any other country.
is the charm and magic of India. In
addition it is the human touch that makes the difference. English language is commonly spoken so
communication and comprehension is much better.
Tourists are not required to jump from one airport to another. One
remains in one southern circuit of Kerala. Same could be for Tamilnadu
Circuit with Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Thanjavur-Tiruchirapalli. Madurai,
Kanyakumari (12/15 days itinerary to explore Tamilnadu comfortably) or Karnataka
circuit with Bengaluru, Mysore, Hampi, Halebid –Hassan – Pattadakal – Jog falls
Hampi and can have exit out from Goa with 5 days beach holidays. One
can visit Hyderabad as entry point and cover Visakhapatnam – Arakurvalley
(day visit) Tirupathi – and combine Chennai. So options are varied. Same
applies for East India, North India, West India, North East or one can have
thematic holidays like Rail Heritage Tours, Wildlife Tours, Rural Tourism
visits, Photo Safari tours or visit
to World Heritage sites (16 of them are must for any visitor). In short, one
can see the world in India – whatever be his interest, he will get a lot to
satisfy his interest. It is the country for all reasons and all seasons. Now
there is acceptable infrastructure at all these places mentioned in the article
and tourist can reserve the packages from tour operators and even State Tourism
Corporations have readymade packages on offer at an affordable price. Please
note that accommodation is of one star or no star category but clean and
comfortable. Good hotels are also available.
has now identified 30 such of Tourism circuits for integrated development and
work is in progress. North India and South India Circuits are ready for
tourists and already attracting thousands of tourists every year. Even charters
are coming to South India and Goa Circuits.
area where India has made an impact is Medical Tourism. Here the USP for
India is the state of art hospitals with world class facilities and
Doctors of International repute. All type of treatments at an affordable price
and no waiting. All these have made India a choice destination for medical
treatments from both developed and developing countries, over 350,000 tourists
visited India in 2014 on Health Tourism and wellness tourism purpose at a rough
estimate as made known by experts.
is now focusing itself on Spiritual Tourism. Whole world is looking at
India for mental solace. They are coming for lessons in yoga and meditation.
Often they visit catholic pilgrimage places viz Goa, Chennai, Pondicherry or
Buddhist Circuits in UP and Bihar Sufi centers or Islamic heritage centers
(Ajmer, Hyderabad etc) Jain pilgrimage, Sikh Pilgrimage Places Char-Dham, Sai,
Timpath, Vaishnodevi among hindu centeres. They attend religious discourses and
get mentally satisfied. Religious journey to India is an added attraction which
is combined with regular leisure tourism by overseas tourists especially with
Tourism which is often called Eco-Tourism
is also being focused, as new breed of tourists would like to visit a place
which is sensitive to nature and environment and they only visit those
Countries. It is about engaging with the mountain destinations enjoying a range
of winter activities in beautiful surroundings and having a fun and memorable
experience but not at the cost of the environment or ignoring the local
population. Keeping these tourists in mind and the above objectives, Ministry
of Tourism is now promoting Rural Tourism. This is based on customers
growing demand to be in nature and to achieve the key objective to provide an
unique experience. Over 139 such rural tourism centers have been developed all
over the country. Here the focus is on development of Sustainable Tourism
by involving all stake holders, understanding of the contribution of tourism to
the local economy, society, preservation of culture environment and though
research and training to enhance the ability to manage tourism more sustainably
with local participation. This niche segment of tourism has made some beginning
now and hope to do well when the western world has become concrete jungle.
Whereas India offers an unique rural experience in natural surroundings. All
these efforts have helped increasing in international tourist arrivals which is
now progressively maintaining double digit figure since the last two years this
also spicing up Foreign Exchange Earnings which is having an average since last
year and this upward trend to continue.
As today the consumers is more experimental and aspirational and
customers are willing to pay more for such unique experience we are moving at
the right direction by promoting Niche Tourism. But we have to keep on
innovating new products. With such mix of culture and tourism destinations we
can always put something new as many
places remain unexplored till this date like – North East Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand.
Chattisgarh, Orrisa and all these have enough ingredients to keep tourists for
10-15 days in each state. Food itself can be a big attraction in course of
visit to India and shopping as real bargain which can be combined in packages
in these places.
Indian Tourism - Our Large Challenges
have been thinking about the possible reasons for sudden downward trend in international tourist arrivals. The prime
Question was why we are not getting the regular tourists and how to substitute
those markets which were more severely affected by the recession and which are
largely the US and the European markets. These are India’s so called
lot more Asians are travelling now with Europeans and Americans. So we need to
diversify products to reach Japan, China, South Korea, South East Asian
Countries which is the need of the hour. Infact this is to attract
intra-regional travelers with better connectivity to India and in addition to
course our regular market of Srilanka, Maldives and mainly Gulf countries. Here
we need to continue with our enhanced marketing plan. They are not affected by
recession and they are our round the year clients.
of Infrastructure remains the biggest challenge. Here pace of development is
very slow, Government approval, regulations, laws are not intune with the
changes of the time. Laws are pre-historic. There is no common Land Law in
India. It differs from State to State. It is so much time consuming that it
takes 4 to 5 years to complete a hotel,
which may take one or two years in China or Thailand. Every successive
Government had been talking about single window clearance but no positive
action is visible till date.
the next challenge looks non-existent but in reality it exists. It is the
challenge to make all Government agencies to understand the value of tourism.
Tourism needs lot of synergy between Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of
Environment, Ministry of Finance and even Ministry of Home Affairs, Civil
Aviation, External Affairs. Though tourism is the largest generators of
employment and even good quantum of Foreign Exchange for the national exchequer
is earned there is no priority to tourism in the central or state budget. We
need to sensitize all the concerned ministries about the value of Tourism In
this respect, media can play a big role.
Leap sympathy in tourism, does not work. Even the politicians are
divided on tourism issues and as such there is no industry status to tourism or
Infrastructure status to hotel industry. If there was a political will, tourism
should have been given large priority in the National budget and industry’s
request for industry status would having been achieved. Infact, tourism
industry is most taxed in India. With the result outbound has flourished. We
can’t match the price offered by our competitors Inspite of all potential which
India has to attract tourists, we don’t get the tourists in that number. Today
Tourists are very much cost conscious. Eeven for a few dollar savings may move
to any other destination ignoring what special attractions you have on offer
Visa issues are very discouraging for tourists. They now need to fill
application on line. Generally senior
citizens from overseas (above sixty form a big bulk opting for India holiday
packages) and they find it difficult; first of all they may not be that
computer savvy and if they may they have to start again if there are some
mistakes committed in filing on line. This time consuming process and this has
been bothering them. Added to that, the visa application forms are in English
language and not in the languages of the country say not in French language in
France or German language in Germany. It is difficult for them to comprehend
the Questions asked in the application form. Even Questions are very irritating
like asking for school leaving certificate etc. Group bookings have really come
to a halt as everybody has to apply individually on line. The restriction for
today’s gap from the last exit from India visit is also very dampening for
business visitors. Thus it is hampering MICE segment. Simple application form is the need of the
hour. But we made it the most complicated process. Tourists prefer to move
only to those places which are friendly
than break their head on obtaining visas. Also it takes 4/6 days to get India
visas as reported by many overseas tour operators who have India holiday
packages in their holiday. How to create confidence in them is also a big
challenge now. Tour operators have been pleading for withdrawal of such
confusing system. Also they are pleading for them to submit passports together
at given hours in the Embassy so that group movements are not disturbed. But
nothing concrete on this account has been achieved till date. The loss is ours.
this is not enough, progressively increase in aviation fuel cost and sales
taxes on Air Turbine Fuel by states in India have made air travel very costly.
Air travel cost is nearly 40% of India Holiday packages and domestic air travel
components are more in India packages and price increased further due to taxes
have made India packages over priced and cost prohibitive for tourists.
surface transportation is costly due to increase in petrol cost and arbitrary
road taxes (differs from state to state) has made even golden triangle package
of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur very cost prohibitive. This sector always done on
surface transport and due to cost escalation has become out of bound for budget
tourists. Students and budget tourist are now travelling by rail.
biggest challenges now we feel is the “Advisories” issued by the developed
countries. All the more worrying is that these are our main traffic generating
countries like USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan. These advisories are informing their citizens
not to visit India because of potential terror threats. But as a Nation, we
could not put up any counter challenges to say this is not the real situation
in India. Unfortunately we do get
potential threats and our Media glorifies such events without any reasons. Our
own media is more damaging as western media takes reference from our media
reporting’s only. Government is only a
silent spectator and ultimately tourism industry suffers. Till we become
pro-active, such advisories will continue and tourists will avoid India as they
don’t get insurance cover for those countries against which Advisories are
issued or the insmance cover cost is double.
industry has often found that when they are about to take off after the hard
work they have done by under taking marketing globally, something negative happens (either Natural Calamities,
terror attacks or epidemics etc) that
negatively impact Tourism business. They
have to start from the scratch again. All earlier efforts become unproductions.
part is that there is no special relief from the Government at those critical
time either by providing discount on air tickets, visa relaxations etc. All the more at a slightest opportunity,
Government adds tax on tourism sector
which totally ruin the tourism growth. It has happened repeatedly year after
year. This total neglect of tourism and how to educate all about tourism
benefits is the most important challenge. Even in last 60 years, we could not
make any change in this scene do that another challenge is to draw out a
contingency plan or “Crisis Management Plan” by having partnerships with
all stake holders by the Government.
Inspite of having such repeated negative events, till date there is no
effective crises Management Plan. There is something on paper may be but how
effective it will be during crisis yet to be seen. We need to be very sensitive
on this subject to keep India as tourist friendly destination to give the
message we care for you.
and security is also a big challenge as often overseas tourists ask the
question whether they will be safe in India. This is mainly due to recent spate
of attacks on tourists, molestation, rape which have been widely reported in
western media. Rail accidents, sudden fire etc have also gave lot of negative
publicity all over and our counter acting such negative events were very weak.
We became rather protective and just telling everyone that we are the safest
country “Atithi Devo Bhava” is our motto. This does not help to create the right
confidence. Tourist needs proper action. In general India is termed as safe
destination but recent events have been very negative on India’s image as safe
destination. We need to do a lot to create confidence. All safety measures
undertaken should be made visible which can create confidence. In our Media/TV
Campaigns, this aspect should be projected to create positive decision by
marketing efforts are not modern with technological innovation. May be in some
part we are quite up to date but our presence and visibility is very negligible
in overseas travel trade exhibitions. This is essential to create confidence to
counter act any negative comments. We need to give clarifications on the spot
and clear the confusion. Thus increased presence in global travel exhibitions
is a must and how to meet increased expenses is also challenge. Here Government
must provide financial subsidies to tour
operators by increasing the allocation under Marketing Development Assistance
(MDA) and the applications should be simple for reimbursement. There should be
no restriction to force member for reimbursement claim to travel by Air India
only. Let them use any airlines of their
choice and create business for India.
Incredible India needs re-branding showing
modern India and not generic but should be thematic and trade must ensure
delivery. The delivery was lacking so Incredible India was not successful in
creating proper awareness. Even our promotional materials are not focused with
information about actual travel itineraries. So proved not users friendly.
also lacked many other essentials – like lack of trained manpower at all
segment of tourism. This resulted in rendering quality services. Even there is
total lack of language guides like Chinese, Arabic, Korean, Spanish etc
and supporting language brochures to give in sights of the places being by
tourists. The general up keep of places by tourists specially frequented our
monuments are of poor standard and there is even lack of basic facilities. We
have problems of language guides. To
begin with ASI can provide pre recorded tape at important heritage monuments.
Even ASI should consider proper parking space for cars and coaches at monuments
and there is no night tours of the monuments. This could be a commercial
proposition if this is combined with some night entertainments (Indian dance
etc) and dinner. The entertainment part is also lacking and is one of the
challenges we need to meet to boost international tourist arrivals.
always think for tourism to grow and feel everything is at proper place but
nothing is in order and every aspect has become a challenge as you have seen
from the explanations in previous paras.
If we can meet these challenges in time our international tourists
arrivals will show positive grow the other wise, without no timely action we
will stagnate 5 to 6 million for another
half decade. Ministry’s goal to achieve one percent of global tourist
arrivals ie from 0.60% at present to 1% will remain only on paper. Tourism is
business and it needs professional approach. These facts we must remember. It
should be boom time in tourism with positive decisions and we should not allow
any excuses for making it doom time in tourism business.