By Gour Kanjilal
The writer is the former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. The views expressed are his own. Visit www.gourkanjilal.com
for more articles or tourism related matter.
During the last two year's tourism industry witnessed a decline in growth due to the global economic meltdown, Swain flu, Volcanic cloud and Ash and air traffic disruption in Europe airspace, terrorist attacks, natural calamities, political disturbances and many such negative events. It appeared that difficult days are awaiting for stake holders in tourism business. It further surmounted with high cost of petrol and for India, heavy tax structure in tourism segment. Tourism entrepreneurs were required to pay more taxes. Then there was a sense of alarm ripples through the industry as handful of cases of harassment of tourists make for headlines and breaking news on TV. Already to make the matter worst, travel advisories were issued from many traffic generating countries which informed the travelers from those countries to be on guard while they visit India. On the face of it, these developments do not give a very positive signal; rather a gloomy picture. Inspite of such negative scene, India's travel and tourism has maintained a continued growth as visible since the beginning of this year. The tourism receipts may cross US$100 Billion by 2015 and the latest Satellite. Accounts Research released by World Travel & Tourism council estimated this is to go up to US$ 275 Billion by 2018 over the next 10 years. The result reveals strong performance for travel and tourism demand in India with a positive growth rate of 7.3% year on year basis. Incredible India campaign will be a key factor in creating awareness and to make India a choice destination among global holidayers Infrastructure development and increased air seat capacity which were bottleneck areas that prevented tourist in flow from taking off stand eased to some extent. Domestic tourism is really booming with 15% growth year on year basis and figure crossed 650 million in 2009. Over 30,000 rooms added in hotel sector as an effort to boost accommodation in Delhi to meet the demand of the commonwealth Games. Nearly 20 hotels are coming up in and around Delhi/NCR which are at various stages of completion. Hotel traff are going to come down due to availability of increased number of rooms. This will help tour operators to float competitive packages overseas. Earlier lack of hotel rooms especially budget hotels at entry points was a key factor for not getting tourist groups. But this problem has now been put under control. The biggest achievement is the State of Art Delhi Terminal-3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport and upgraded airports in all most all metropolitan cities and 2tier and 3tier cities. Low cost carriers have brought style in domestic travels.
The rate of growth of tourism sector in India has been way above the world average in the last two years. The tourist's arrivals in 2010 till October are showing a positive growth with International tourists visiting India over the corresponding year 2009. Thus prospects of growth of tourism in India are bright. The over all development of tourism infrastructure VIZ airports, roads, air connectivity, Rail connectivity relaxation in visa norms, hotel rooms, upkeep of monuments, seamless travel in Golden Triangle Sector Covering Delhi-Agra-Jaipur, comprehensive entry tickets to ASI heritage monuments, signage's Four lane Highways, wayside amenities, amusement parks, street hightings, footpathscaping, Illumination of city's monuments, designated areas for parking, by pass to city from, NCR, flyovers, Metro connectivity etc and several other pro-active efforts by the Government to promote tourism like positioning India on the global map through Incredible India campaigns according greater focus to newly emerging markets like South Korea, Middle East, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, Kenya, CIS Countries and participating in travel trade fairs as a team with travel trade, Road Shows in the emerging markets have boosted tourism in a big way. The focus is on "Off Beaten Track"
Adventure Rural Tourism Experience, Wellness & Health Tourism, Look North East as Eco-Tourism experience destination, Meetings & conference that is to look beyond usual Golden Triangle of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur, Rajasthan, Goa and Kerala. Even destinations like Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand are now getting focuss in promotional campaigns to diversify tourism products.
The year 2009 exceeded the expectations for international tourist arrivals as the beginning of the year started with negative growth. New record figures close to 5.37 million international tourist (+9%) inspite of global recession proved a big success story where as World Tourism was showing only 4% growth. All these statistics indicate travel & tourism will continue to grow in importance as one of the world's highest priority sectors & employment globally. According to UNWTO World Tourism Barometer South East Asia region with India as prime destinations will lead in international tourist arrivals. Tourism will continue to be India's most important engine for economic growth. Globally tourism had surpassed the automotive and oil industries in terms of total revenuer and job creation. In India inspite of economic recession, and inspite of the fact that when many industries were yet to recover, tourism had shown rapid recovery. It was the right decision by the Government of India, Ministry of Tourism at the right time which is to say declaring 2009 as "visit India year" brought in the optimism. As trade, 2010 was taken as a challenge to boost tourism with Commonwealth Games in October and several of International events like International Trade Fair etc, which offered unique opportunities to promote tourism. Such events help to provide the nation with state of art infrastructure. Positive reputation with successful hosting of Commonwealth Games is going to help in getting greater foreign investments and a surge in tourism that helps employ countries legions of unskilled and skilled workers. Visitors could see the modern metro network, stylish hotels, fancy shopping malls, smooth super highways, flyovers, stadiums and tourist places in and around Delhi. They could see how safe the city is, people's warmth and hospitality and will return leisurely to explore new look India. Commonwealth Games showcased India to the world. The turn around in the tourism scene has spelled good news for the travel & tourism sector. It is now good time for travel trade to look for new business opportunities and consolidate their business. Tourism scene is very favorable for entrepreneurs and more new young entrepreneurs have joined in tourism related business with new ideas after bagging an international degree. There is more trained manpower now to service the industry. They are motivated and self-driven and hold sense of responsibility and good communication skill. They believe in action and very sensitive to nature. It has been a wonderful year so far and this trend is expected to continue. It is necessary that all stake holders follow a code of ethics in this human related business, spread right message and cooperate with Government in issues and offer tourists a life time experience. They should come back with a renewed spirit to explore various parts of India. In India, in tourism, there is high tides of optimism and that augurs well for the tourism & travel industry.