Foreign tourists do take longer time to decide India as the destination for their holidays but once such decision is finalized infavour of India; they spend longer time & spend more. It is estimated that foreign tourist in India spend $1462 compared to the world average of $ 850,00. India's share in world tourism in 2005 has jumped to 0.49% compared to 0.38% in 2003. The positive trend is continuing. And tourist arrivals in India in the first six months of 2006 has reached 2.86 million an increase of 11% over 2005 when the figures were 2.58 million for the corresponding period.
This positive trend is also visible in foreign exchange earnings. In this respect as per Ministry's observation that average per tourists foreign exchange earnings in India was higher than the world average is very heartening. Tourism is valued through its revenue generating capacity & not just by the numbers international arrivals. In the first six months of 2006, it is estimated that foreign exchange earnings from tourism was US$ 3.02 billion. Which is higher for the same period January -June 2005) when it was around $ 2.7 billion. Tourism has played equally a major role in the employment generation for the country. As per data available (till 2003-04) the tourism generated about 41.8 million or 8.78% of total employment in the economy. The contribution of tourism to GDP is equally significant.
With every thing on offer from heritage to wellness, mountains to beaches, apparently a mere 3.9 million foreign tourists coming to India looks very disappointing. But the satisfaction part is that the average stay of a tourists in India is about 29 days and is compared to world average, it is very high. There are some inherent problems and these are well-known but till date nothing concrete could be achieved in solving these issues. These are mainly related to obtain visas for India from Indian Embassies in Europe, USA, China, Middle East airport facilities, acute shortage of hotel rooms etc. and to speak in one sentence - Lack of infrastructural facilities. Also due to limited budget for global campaigns, the targeted campaigns in international markets through prints electronic media do not provide the right results. With commonwealth games in 2010, World Cup in 2010,
Asian Championship in 2011 the build up for India looks very convincing but all things must be put at proper place. We must develop networking with all major airlines, start media blitz, train manpower, select cadre of tourism professional for PR and promotional activities specially with all those International airlines who are operating to India under take media blitz, train manpower, select cadre of tourism professional for PR and promotional activities, select brand ambassadors who can create right impact in the selected markets.
We have to learn from Australia and Germany - who had successfully converted the major sports events that is to say Olympic in Sydney/Common Wealth Games in Melbourne and World Cup Soccer in Germany (concluded recently;) into great tourism events, No time to talk but work, work and ensure delivery in time. Most essential part in the respect of delivery is monitoring of all the projects for timely completion. Priority allocation of funds and selection of best people, best organization to do the job and not on political considerations. It will be the right decision in respect of selection process or final outcome will be detrimental one.
If we fail to encase these events which have got global publicity and where India is already being promoted as right choice, we can never come up. We may celebrate "TOURISM YEAR" subsequently as a follow-up once the interest is generated through these mega events to keep India interest continued in the global scene.