With record arrivals in 2005, it appears India will jump the magical figure of 5 million tourists by the end of year 2006 with possible growth of about 15% over 2005. First time it will happen that arrival figure will cross 1 million targets in a year.
Foreign Exchange earnings too have shown positive growth with revenue earning figure reached US$ 5 billion in 2005 and may cross 7 billion by the end of the 10th Five Year Plan period (by 2007).
Similarly for the first time in many years, one could see lot of positive happenings in all tourism related areas: be it the airlines, airports, roads, hotels, or economy in general. Stable government, focused articles in the media leading travel magazine declaring India as one of the five top tourist destinations in the world, business like approach in our booths at international travel trade shows, focused advertisements all show commitments. Every where a scene of optimism is visible. There is improvement in the arrival of tourists from various traffic generating markets.
With the open "sky policy", more and more airlines now got the right to operate to India. About Seven international carriers have added India to their schedule. Existing carriers have been allowed additional services.
Charter policy has been liberalized, low cost airlines are now available and number is increasing. Domestic carriers have started operating to Kathmandu, Colombo, Bangkok, London, Chicago, and soon to go other overseas destinations. The fuel surcharges reduced, taxes withdrawn in respect of hotels, airport tax and taxes rationalized at many places by State Governments.
Airports are being upgraded - Plans have already been prepared and action initiated for improvement of airports. Delhi Airport look much improved and Mumbai Airport is getting a good face- lift. Many small airports are getting a facelift for operation of flights by no frill airlines Helicopter services also are being offered by private investors. There is a genuine eagerness to improve air transport facilities. Once these areas are improved, corporate traffic will be increased. They need fast movement facilities.
With the opening of Indian economy, lot of foreign investments are coming. This will bring progressive economic stability. Rupee is already stable and GDP is consistently moving upward (about 6%) much better than many countries. In fact in some of the areas, like IT, Business Processing, Medical, Biotechnology, Management studies etc., India stands on a sound footing. Lot of business movements are taking place on those accounts. Conferences are taking place in India in numbers for Medical topics, IT, Science and Research, Automobile, Engineering and infrastructure etc, etc. and good numbers of participants have come to attend those events. India has really made a mark as MICE destination with enchanting pre/post tours, conference facilities. These conferences are held not only in metropolitan cities but at many tourist places. New convention centre in Kochi, Chennai, Bhubnaswar are in demand.
One area where there is a big visible improvement is related to Highway developments. Work is already under way at many places. Once these are completed say in 4/5 years time the road networks with comfortable transport - systems (Quality cars are now available in India) are completed, there will be further boom in industry with improved infrastructure on highways. For the Highway Project nearly Rs. 40,000/- cores is being invested and work is progressing very fast. In the budget for 2006-07, higher allocation has been made again for highway project. This will bring, big boost to tourism specially domestic tourism will be prospering with lot of infrastructural facilities coming on the highway in the form of wayside amenities, shopping malls, petrol pumps etc. Thus lot of local employment will be created. This will open up many new opportunities in tourism related activities.