India’s travel and tourism industry ranks 14th in the world and is expected to contribute 187 Billion to GDP by 2019 according to 2010 World Travel & Tourism Report. The sector accounting for roughly 6% of total employment now is expected to generate 40 million jobs by the next decade.
Indian travellers have evolved and are searching for newer locations hither to not explored. They are now venturing for African wildlife Resorts, Brazil’s evergreen rain forests, Beaches in Latin American region, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines as new encounters. Additionally increase in the usage of internet and internet enable facilities such as net banking has changed the way people draw out travel plans. With demonetizations and emphasis for digital payments have further given momentum for digital payments. Online travel agencies, have brought in use of technology in a big way, ease of access and cost effectiveness opening up a whole new world of opportunities for travellers. Smart phone has become business operational mode.
The rapidly increasing numbers of social media and mobile users among Indian travellers are visible. The current competitive patterns point to increased mobile usage being the future. Hence marketing plans will now have to be based on this form of media even to attract international tourists. The social media help in decision making process and is fuelled by people’s faith in other traveller’s opinions and reviews. Now people are spending more time on online search engines. Hence, India’s tourism decision makers should start leveraging Social Media as Customers trust each other’s opinion making it the evident way forward. It is heartening to see the Government of India, Ministry of Tourism has drawn out an aggressive Social Media/Digital Media plan for marketing India abroad. This has already started showing impact. This is going to bring volume in international tourist arrival and India will have remarkable change in its World ranking. Introduction of e-visa has started showing inspiring growth (10% plus) year on basis which is much better growth than international tourists arrivals recorded by UN world Tourism organization (about 4 to 5% growth). The year is expected to end with 11% (about 9 million plus)
Even Tourism planning in India has a new orientation. There are focused areas with long term planning and developments in an integrated manner. It has been observed that Indian tourism is experiencing a strong period of growth and tour operators are increasing their operations with bigger establishments and are always looking for best talents. They have trained executives who have passions in the job and are positive. In tourism, one cannot implement important schemes without enhanced coordination between the centre and the states. In action, pro-active approach of states are most essential as they are going to provide land, electricity, water supply road connectivity to any infrastructural activities. Central Ministry of Tourism has successfully set up a task force to look into the coordination part and review implementation issues.
A major concern for our tourism growth is the high taxation part. Hope with GST put into operation, this part will ease the problem. Another concern often expressed by tourists is about deteriorating scene of Safety of Women due to rape incidents. But government’s strict measures to control on this trend is visible and tourists are getting confidence. Tourism Ministry has set up 24´7 Helpline and the service is offered in 12 foreign languages. There is now more awareness and fast trails courts are in operation and punishments are being inflicted. All these have revived confidence and reverse the despondency that grappled in tourist mind on Safety part. Even cleanliness/hygiene part is much improved with Clean India Campaign of Hon’ble Prime Minister. Monument areas are better maintained and cleanliness visible. With so much priority shown to tourism by Hon’ble Prime Minister, Tourism industry hopes for a growth oriented budget through appropriate incentives for investments in tourism related activities.
We need policy support for tax relaxations to tourism sector, incentives for investments in infrastructure and control of fuel costs. Infact, tourism industry should be given Export Industry status and all benefits given to export oriented industries be made available to tourism industry also. Foreign Exchange earnings should be incentivised so that tour operators can reinvest in infrastructural projects linked to tourism.
Highways have come up in a big way giving good connectivity and boosting surface tourism. But our road taxes are very significantly high across the states. It is a challenge to run seamless travel between two states. A uniform tax regime would go a long way in removing this constraint and help in industry to operate Surface Transport Tourism packages in a big way. But this is not possible with so many challenges for states Road taxes our train Journeys offer real experience. Our mountain Rail journeys are the experience, which tourists enjoy when it passes through tunnels carrying out bellowing steam, really mesmerising for them. But railway improvement is slow and lot needs to be done. This is now being projected for future potential growth area for tourism and lot of investments are being made. By diversifying around tourism sector, we have created opportunity and that is just the beginning.
The change is visible and India will be the destination of the future. India has to make a big change in its image – New Incredible India with new changes and aggressive global Campaign started with a big bang. No doubt India is poised for a giant lip.