Changing Tourism Scene in India
When I hear from tourists that new government has certainly energized the country and pro-tourism initiatives of the government has helped to change country’s image; every time they come, there are new infrastructure developments such as airports, or highways, hotels, I feel very positive for the tourism and hospitality industry. It definitely helps in boosting tourist inflow they talked profusely about the introduction of e-tourist visa it is now valid for 163 countries which enabled to get 31.27 lakh tourists between Jan-March 2018 this year which showed a remarkable growth of 9.9% during the same period last year (28.45 lakh tourists arrival) and top key sources markets included USA, Russia, UK, France, Japan, Singapore, Sri lanka, Canada thus there is change in the markets from where improved arrivals visible in 2018. Earlier Bangladesh, Thailand, Afghanistan, Nepal and Srilanka were key markets 2017.
Even tourists find global hotel and restaurant chains here to satisfy their taste of global food along with Indian specialists. New destinations developed by Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha have helped diversification of tourism experience and additional nights.
Incredible Indian Branding 02 and marketing globally has attracted holidayers. Also India government is taking all necessary steps for cleanliness, Security and Skill development to match the need of the growing tourist arrivals. Private sector is really motivated and making increased investments and government liberal FDI Policy is also very supportive.
A part from key source markets, newer markets are warming up to the new initiative. There is visible growth from Spain, Italy, China, Russia, Malaysia and South Korea and we have seen growth in transient (short stays) E-visa helped to project welcoming image of India across the world. A lot of progressive governments are following the digital route so we too have taken a positive step at least it is boosting transient segments (short stays) specially corporate travelers. However, marked improvement can be seen when some steps are taken for group visas present e-visa norms are not helping tour operators to workout group departures towards India. Even our GST laws hurt tourists as we still remained as a cost prohibitive destination. Government must help the industry by looking into the practical suggestions given by Hotel and Tour Industry professionals in this regard and sooner the better, a definitive decision is given before tourist season starts in September.
In addition to GST constraints, travel and tourism industry is facing many other challenges given the nature of an ever changing and fragmented market particularly with the rise of the sharing economy and technology’s growing role in the industry.
Physical and Environ mental safety which is fundamental responsibility of the government. But the way the safety part is being taken care, we are really shocked, fire safety concerns have caused carnages, police is only taking care of VIP’s have ‘left Free For All” attitude by irresponsible drivers, string of rape case, robberies, pedestrian paths are given for shops on some premium, No waste management poor handling of dangerous chemicals all these are very disturbing for honest citizens and tourists read them with great mental concern about Safety. Often tourists and ask our tour operators about Safety part Dengue spreading with deaths, overcrowded roads, even trees are not clipped so lighting on the roads blocked, CCTV’s do not work. There is no urgency to give better service on all these accounts. We need a better Civic governance and we continue to get larger number of tourists is known such concerns are projected larger than the reality by our Media. But government is doing its best to provide hassle free holiday to visiting travelers in spite of various other priority commitments Media should be a bit responsible in reporting such lacunas as news spread very fast and with any negative news tourism becomes the first causality
The tumultuous economic scene in global markets do not give us a picture that global economy will be better but as tourists are getting more value against each US$ spent in India, we can expect them to come in numbers. Also the demand for India is visible. Most of the tourists have been educated by tour operators how variety of options to explore with an interesting mix of cities and what India offers as unique experiences like no other. With its art, culture history all interwoven in the package and thus India is getting attention for Niche Tourism experience. There optimism towards business travel and so our hotels are bound to see greater occupancies. As far as leisure tourism is concerned, for a long time, we saw that people would go abroad on one big holiday but would rather opt for micro-tripping. As far as domestic travel is concerned, it is seeing a surge. With increased road shows in overseas destinations by Ministry of Tourism with partnership of the travel trade and hospitality industry, and state governments, there is a greater awareness and creating larger demand slowly put demand will pick up with tourist arrivals. Government is doing a lot by reassuring people and industry and states are responding with equal vigor. So we are very optimistic about outlook for 2018.
By Gour Kanjilal, Executive Director, IATO and Former, Dy. Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India views expressed are personal