India’s Travel & Tourism sector has a huge potential, but growth remains largely untapped due to a lack of a co-ordinated approach to tourism policies, said David Scowsill, President & CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) while speaking at the Hotel Investment Forum India in Mumbai. He also highlighted that India’s Travel & Tourism sector has extraordinary potential and is forecast to grow by 7.5% per annum over the next decade.
In 2015, Travel & Tourism contributed 6.3% to India’s GDP, which is well below the global average of 10%. Additionally, international arrivals were around 8 million visitors per year, which is substantially lower than other countries. China receives 57 million visitors annually and Thailand 30 million.
“Travel & Tourism is growing in India, but it comes from a low base compared to other countries in Asia. With the forecast growth for domestic and international tourism, we now stand at a crossroads. Now is the time for India to take off and fulfil its potential”, Scowsill added.
Scowsill stressed six priorities which WTTC believes the Government should address urgently, to boost domestic business and leisure travel and to dramatically increase international arrivals:
Put tourism at the heart of its economic agenda: the government must deliver on its 2014 manifesto promise to prioritise the sector as a driver of economic growth.
Agree a responsible rate of GST: rather than implement a level of 18% tax, a range of 9-14% would certainly boost the social and economic potential of the sector.
Invest more into the ‘Incredible India’ campaign: look at other sources of marketing monies, whether from visa fees or private sector matching funds.
Continue the electronic visa programme implementation: extend into other countries and consider a two year multi entry approach rather than current 30 days.
Improve infrastructure; raise the level of investment in airports, road and rail networks to satisfy the projected domestic business and leisure market growth.
Implement a co-ordinated public/private plan for aviation: satisfy the fastest growing domestic aviation market in the world by planning for the next 7-10 years.
Scowsill concluded: “We commend President Modi’s current efforts to drive the growth of Travel & Tourism. India is a beautiful destination with a great deal of tourism potential for domestic and international travellers. Everything required to make India one of the world’s biggest Travel & Tourism economies can now be put in place. We encourage the government to adopt these six priorities, to ensure that the sector can create more jobs and stimulate growth in the economy.”