On its sixty year journey young India is marching ahead with challenging times in tourism. In the days of early 1950's , reaching India was difficult. Very few airlines were connecting India and cruise liners would take weeks. Now over 70 international airlines are directly providing connectivity from their respective countries. Even earlier tourists were coming from very selected markets. Now it is the preferred destination from all most major traffic generating countries. The quality and the quantity of Indian tourism products has gone a sea-change. Its variety and affordability part has been globally recognized. Tourism also got its due recognition in the National Five Year Planning with higher budget outlays. From just Rs. 2 crores budget in early fifty's, it has crossed over Rs. 10,000 cores in the 11th five year plan allocations. Earlier thinking of public in general was tourism is an elitist activity. Public in general have now understood the value of tourism in creating jobs, earning foreign exchange for the country, better global understanding of India and all the more it's contribution for poverty alleviation, upliftment of the women power and "National Integration". People are now more tourist friendly. State governments which earlier used to give a very low priority to tourism, are now using tourism, as the main instrument for economic development in the states.
This change in the attitude toward tourism is the biggest achievement of Indian tourism on its 60th anniversary of independence. All the more earlier tourism had hardly any reference in the Independence Day address of Hon'ble Prime Minister from the ramparts of Red Fort while unfurling the Tri colour of India. Now a definite note on tourism as vehicle for National Integration, Rural Development, International relation and poverty alleviation is announced with priority to tourism by Hon'ble Prime Minister. This is a big recognition for the practitioners of tourism who had been pleading the Govt. decision makers to put priority to tourism. Those visionaries looked at tourism as the only vehicle for nation's balanced development. Tourism at its 60th year saw a new India with varied opportunities in every segment of human necessities. Accommodation sector made marked improvements since its small beginning in 1950's. Earlier deluxe hotels very few and budget hotels were just existed by
name purely for use by domestic tourists. It was only in the seventies that a new crop of five star appeared. Ashok Group (ITDC) made series of hotels in Delhi, Bangalore, Kovalam, Chennai and private sector like The Oberoi, The Taj Group, ITC Welcomgroup became symbol of luxury hotels in India. This also changed in the quality of tourists coming to India. Early sixties saw hippy back packers pouring into India especially in Goa, Kashmir & even Southern India but since seventies saw middle level executives and they opted for classy hotels.
Still India was thought in the early 50's as transit destination and more or less India attracted tourists on transit who used to take stop ever packages between 3 to 7 days. Lack of infrastructure and air connectivity were the main bottleneck areas. Still the visitors did not number many, as late as 1951 international arrivals numbered 16, 829. Toward the end of the century the figure crossed 2.50 million and now approaching 5 million mark just doubled the figure of the last century. It is not a small achievement taking into consideration the series of negative events of the last century with 9 -11 Sept. events in USA, Earthquake in India, Socio-religious events in India, Bird flue etc., which greatly affected traffic movements. Foreign exchange earnings too had better growth which now crossed $ 5 billion from a small beginning in 1950's ($in). It is not the revenue earnings the mattered. It is how tourism has contributed to the national (GDP) and employment since last decade is of prime importance. Also tourism with least investment has brought a sea-change in country's growth plan, In India GDP growth in period between 1995-2004 was averaging 6.21% whereas annual average increase in domestic and international travel has been 11.2% and 8.7% respectively and since then the GDP growth is progressively increasing. In its report of Brazil, Russia India, and China (BRIC), they have predicted India will be amongst the foremost growth centres of the world by 2020.
By mid fifties "Aviation became the preferred mode of transportation Air India played its glorious role by connecting India from five continents. Air India's Maharaja was holding the glory in the skies projecting India's' warmth & hospitality. It was a symbol of "Experience of India in the sky popularly branded as "your Palace in the sky in true sense. Alas ! Air India due to lack of vision by the policy makers lost its position and now even do not find place in the best ten airlines of the world. In the 60 years of India's independence now combined Air India and Indian is going to bring the difference as India's national carrier. New modern aircrafts are being put into service with new look crew members. Air India - Indian will play its national role in the aviation sector is the wish of all travel trade partners and people in general. Air India is our national pride.