India’s impressive economic growth has not translated into a tourism boom, with calls for a ‘dynamic and digital’ revamp of the ‘Incredible India’ campaign to attract foreign visitors. While the domestic travel market has revived during the pandemic years, foreign tourists should grow in large numbers as they bring value, India’s G20 Sherpa and former Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said at an annual event organized by the Association of Hotels of India. (HAI) in the capital.Kant suggested focusing on developing five key states as tourism hubs and harnessing the expertise of the private sector to unlock the country’s potential in this multi-billion dollar market, particularly in the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) segment where India currently has a minimal parts. .“There is a need for a dynamic and digital version of the ‘Incredible India’ campaign which should penetrate every single market. This is critical because foreign tourists are critical to India. About eleven states have given tourism an industry status, but much did not extend the benefits. We have to work really hard and really push the state governments to do this. The center also has to make it an industry as it is a job creating industry. Somewhere the industry has failed to tell this story. “Thailand has created close to 20 million tourism-related jobs, while Malaysia has created 15 million. India has also created seven million jobs,” he added.
Kant said that overall economic growth will naturally boost tourism and that infrastructure development such as new airports will further contribute to the success of the sector. However, he added that the sector “should not worry too much about the expenses given to the tourism ministry”. Kant said this is because tourism is a multi-dimensional sector and with airports coming up across the country, tourism will automatically increase.Kant emphasizes the urgency of promoting foreign tourism, citing its value contribution and job creation potential. Despite India’s economic growth and infrastructure development, the government’s recent drop in overseas tourism promotion budget raises concerns. In this year’s interim budget, the government provided a simple ₹3 crore for the overseas tourism promotion budget, a drop of 97% from last year.
“India has undergone a transformation in the last eight or nine years. We are now the fifth largest economy in the world and will reach third place by 2027. We will be a $10 trillion economy by 2030. And by 2047, when we turn one hundred , we will be 35 trillion dollars to the economy. If we look at India as a whole, when it comes to tourism, we will never be able to make an impact. But the hospitality industry should really challenge all the states and Union Territories of India and really pick five flagship or model states and make an example out of them,” he said. Kant added that there is great tourism potential in the country. “I believe that tourism is fundamentally a private sector activity from the point of arrival to the point of departure,” he added.Another focus area of the tourism sector can now be in improving its MICE market, which is up to 500 billion dollars. India has never had these kind of infrastructural facilities as it has now and this can be a good opportunity for growth.
The travel market in India is projected to reach $125 billion by FY27 from around $75 billion in FY20. India’s tourism industry in 2020 accounted for 31.8 million jobs, which is likely to grow to 53 million jobs by 2029 and international tourist arrivals are expected to reach 30.5 billion by 2028.
According to official tourism ministry statistics for 2022, the number of domestic tourist visits across all states and Union territories in the country was 1.73 billion, up 155% from 2021 but still lower than 2019 when Indians made about 2.4 billion the visit .
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