Tourism: An important engine of growth

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Tourism: An important engine of growth

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 | Sudip Bhattacharyya

Tourism industry in India is growing and it has vast potential for generating employment and earning huge amounts of foreign exchange besides giving a fillip to the country's economic and social development. But much more needs to be done if India is to become a world player in the tourism industry

Travel and tourism have been considered as an important industry in the service sector. The economic impact of tourism is significant since a huge amount of foreign inflow comes from tourism. Moreover, tourism accounts for the major source of cash incomes, and it has been regarded as a major source of economic growth and employment creation.

A total of 212 million persons are now being employed globally through direct and indirect opportunities generated by this industry. This means that one out of every nine persons now earns a living from tourism. Tourism is also highly employment-intensive. For every million rupees of investment, 13 jobs are created in manufacturing industries, 45 jobs in agriculture and 89 jobs in hotels and restaurants.

The tourism industry in emerging markets is forecasted to keep increasing in the next decade. For example, the tourism industry in China and India are growing rapidly, leading to a significant increase in both business and leisure travel. In particular, China will jump from fourth to the second position above Japan and Germany and was forecasted to increase its travel and tourism demand four times up by 2018, accounting for $2,465 billion, with an annual growth rate of 8.9 per cent.

Many countries are promoting tourism and it has become a source of major income for countries like India, Singapore and Malaysia. Tourism is, of course, big industry in most developed countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland.

According toa 2018 economic impact report by World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in the next 10 years, India is likely to become the third largest tourism economy. Released recently, the report also says that the country would add nearly 10 million jobs in the tourism sector by 2028. The total number of jobs depending directly or indirectly on the travel and tourism industry will increase from 42.9 million in 2018 to 52.3 million in 2028. India, which is currently the seventh largest travel and tourism economy in the world, should work on improving infrastructure, said the President of WTTC Gloria Guevara. It has already been working in that direction and result is that while the world tourist growth was four per cent in 2016, India saw a high 9.7 per cent growth in foreign tourist arrival.

Promotion of tourism industry should, therefore, be encouraged on a priority basis by the Government of India through an aggressive tourism marketing strategy.  More and more innovative  and imaginative  projects should be  launched,  highly artistic and creative  posters  and advertisements also should be posted  highlighting India’s ethnicity, its cultural diversities and compositeness, its  myriad, novel  tribal, traditional folk forms, diverse oral traditions,  its rich, varied, vibrant  traditional, rural arts and crafts, its unchartered awe-inspiring scenic spots, jungles, forests, enchanting flora and fauna, emphasising the cohesiveness, homogeneity,  the integral threads running through  various  complex cultures and sub-cultures coexisting in India signifying  the strength of its traditions and thus to  draw attention of the  tourists from all over the globe  and to attract them to  come and visit  India.

Infrastructural development for tourism-related activities is bound to have a series of socio-cultural, socio-economic, physical and environmental impacts on the habitat which would require a systematic evaluation and analysis, using scientific techniques, before development decisions are taken. Any programme for tourism development should thus have the underlying objective of promoting the positive impacts and mitigating the negative impacts on the social, economic and physical environments of the destination areas.

Again, the growth of tourism in India has been largely restricted to certain traditional cities and towns of historical, architectural and cultural significance and some hill stations built by the British and the contiguous areas. There remain many unexplored or underexplored beautiful places due to lack of infrastructure and communication and restrictive policies. Almost all regions in India have their own beautiful locales needing development and highlighting for tourism.

This requires an integrated approach and uniform policy implementation all across India. Further, for a systematic development of all such places, we need planning and financial support from both the State and the Centre. To lead and coordinate all these, we need a federal body like GST Council with the participation of the centre and all the States and experts in areas relevant to tourism development.

As per the lead article in Times Of India dated April 5, 2018, a Private Members’ Bill called the National Tourism (Sustainable Development and Promotion) Bill, 2018 is likely to come up soon in the Parliament. If approved and such a federal body set up, it can and should provide a fillip to development of tourism in India.

(The writer is an author and a commentator)

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