TOURISM IN INDIA

GS PAPER-2, Government Policies, and Interventions for Development in various sectors, Issues Relating to Development and Management

Source- The Hindu, Pib, prsindia.org, India Today

Context-

  • “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.
  • This saying by St. Augustine truly captures the spirit of travel, and India as a vibrant country provides scores of reasons for travelers from across the world to choose India as their destination.
  • The growing influence of the tourism sector as an economic powerhouse and its potential as a tool for development is irrefutable.
  • Not only does the tourism sector spearhead growth, it also improves the quality of people’s lives with its capacity to create large-scale employment of diverse kinds.
  • It supports environmental protection, champions diverse cultural heritage, and strengthens peace in the world.
  • Therefore, the PM of India Mr. Narendra Modi, while addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the 73rd Independence Day, urged Indians to visit at least 15 tourist destinations within India by 2022.

Facts/Statistics related to Tourism

  • Employment: In FY20, 39 million jobs were created in the tourism sector in India; this accounted for 8.0% of the total employment in the country. The number is expected to rise by 2% annually to 52.3 million jobs by 2028.
  • Contribution to the GDP: According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), India ranked 10th among 185 countries in terms of travel & tourism’s total contribution to GDP in 2019. During 2019, the contribution of travel & tourism to GDP was 6.8% of the total economy.
  • Foreign tourist arrivals: During 2019, foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in India stood at 10.89 million, achieving a growth rate of 3.20%. In 2019, arrivals through e-Tourist Visa increased by 23.6%.

Types of tourism

  • Recreational tourism: Tourism is an often activity for recreational purposes. Most tourism took for a change and rest; this is the reason why package tours have become so popular.
  • Environmental tourism: Rich and affluent tourists prefer to spend more visits to remote places where they get pollution-free air to breathe.
  • Historical tourism: Tourists are interested to know how our forefathers lived and administered in a particular area. They visit heritage locations, temples, churches, museums, forts, etc.
  • Ethnic tourism: This refers to people traveling to distant places looking at their routes and attending to family obligations. Marriage and death bring people together to their native places. 
  • Cultural tourism: Some people are interested to know how other people or communities stay survive and prosper. The kind of culture where they practice their art and music is different from ours.
  • Religious tourism: India represents a multi-religious composition of the population. Various package tours are organized to enable people to attend religious duties and visit places of religious importance. E.g. Char Dham yatra.

Dimensions of tourism

 Historical: 

  • Historically, the ability to travel was reserved for royalty and the upper classes. From ancient Roman times through to the 17th century, young men of high standing were encouraged to travel through Europe on a “grand tour”. Through the Middle Ages, many societies encouraged the practice of religious pilgrimage (the most popular form in India). Fast forward to 1952 the first commercial air flights from London, to Johannesburg and Colombo and later the dawn of the jet age, heralded the start of the modern tourism industry.

Social and Cultural:

  • Social and cultural impact signifies the impact which it creates in terms of changes in the lives of local population, the influence of culture on each other, improvements in infrastructure, the resurgence of traditional crafts and ceremonies, lifestyle changes, increased intercultural communication, and understanding.

International Dimensions: 

  • Tourism can play a key role in building peace and supporting reconciliation processes, community engagement and empowerment, capacity building and training, and public/private sector partnerships are key factors in advancing the message of peace and conciliation in post-conflict societies.

Challenges facing tourism in India

Infrastructure roadblocks

  • It is a major challenge for the Indian tourism sector. This includes hotels, connectivity with other cities, health facilities, and transportation, etc. The poor budgetary allocation is one of the major reasons for this issue. There are many tourist destinations in the country, which are not accessible to the poor, women, and the elderly because of the high cost of transportation and poor connectivity with cities.

Environmental concerns

  • The quality of the environment, both natural and man-made, is essential to tourism. The negative impact of tourism development can gradually destroy the environmental resources on which it depends. Tourism not only contributes to climate change but is affected by it as well. 

Resources concern

  • The lack of professionals who can cater to the needs of the tourists is also a major concern. India has thousands of incredible archaeological sites that need restoration and maintenance.

Fragmented Policy and Programs

  • Failure to have a comprehensive tourism policy and the involvement of multiple stakeholders in the implementation of current programs and schemes are other major issues.

Safety and security:

  • Safety & security of tourists is the most important factor which governs whether people will come to that destination or not. Attacks on foreign tourists, especially on women tourists have raised this question. India is placed at 114th position in terms of safety.

Sustainable tourism

  • Sustainable tourism is any form of tourism that can be consumed in a more responsible way. It is the one which: minimizes negative social, economic, and environmental impacts. Generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities.

Solutions and way forward

  • Tourism requires strong coordination at inter-ministerial levels as the customer experience is dependent on visas, air passage, and health regulations, import restrictions, which come under the jurisdiction of home, civil aviation, health, finance, environment, and commerce ministries.
  • Need to have Tourism Councils in all districts of India.
  • Eco-tourism needs to be promoted so that tourism in India helps in preserving and sustaining the diversity of India’s natural and cultural environments.
  • Build roads and access points, promote accessible infrastructure.
  • Allow corporate sponsorship for heritage buildings like Adopt A Heritage Scheme.
  • Boost Niche areas in tourism like – Temple, Festivals, rich village heritage.

India’s recent steps in the promotion of Tourism

  • Growing recognition of tourism’s contribution to employment and economic growth, the availability of better infrastructure, focused marketing and promotion efforts, liberalization of air transport, the growth of online
  • Travel portals, growing intra- regional cooperation, and more effective public-private partnerships are seen as key drivers for tourism in the next decade.
  • According to the World Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2019, India has moved up six places to rank 34th due to its rich natural and cultural resources and strong price competitiveness.
  • Swadesh Darshan: include development of 15 thematic circuits like North East Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, etc. having tourist potential in a planned and prioritized manner, integrated development of infrastructure in identified circuits, promote the cultural heritage of the country, developing world-class infrastructure in-circuit destination, pro-poor tourism approach, promote local arts, handicrafts, cuisine, generate employment.
  • National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Augmentation Drive, PRASAD: Aims to promote sustainable pilgrimage tourism in the country, to strengthen measures for safety, security, and providing quality tourism services in pilgrim cities, etc.
  •  Hunar Se Rozgar Tak: for creation of employable skills amongst youth. The initiative is fully funded by the Ministry of Tourism.

Tourism can also be seen as a tool to promote pluralism and multiculturalism, which can further help to build and spread the feeling of secularism and communal harmony among the various communities of India. Tourism has enormous potential in terms of job creation through tourist guides, tour packages, hospitality services, and India should leave no stone unturned to tap the potential to improve India’s “SOFT POWER”through Tourism.

-Khyati Khare

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