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HomeCover StoryTourism@2047: AmritKaal Threadbare

Tourism@2047: AmritKaal Threadbare

  • “In terms of numbers and value, we are yet to achieve what is expected, having such huge potential” – Abhay Sinha

  • “Everybody on the planet knows ‘India is Incredible’, but we have to now show the world how are we ‘incredible’ – Isha Goyal

  • “India has huge talent; we have to focus on how do we get people ready to deliver” – Anil Parashar

  • “There is so much already for us to cater, we need to think about how to do it right before looking at growth” – Ankush Nijhawan

  • “India is not counter-arguing its negative image or rating. This lets people to start targeting and do negative branding of India” – Roshan M. Thomas

    As per the vision set by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi for AmritKaal @2047, India’s tourism economy is projected to be US$ 3 Trillion by 2047, achieved through 10 crore foreign arrivals, 20 billion domestic tourism visits. The tourism sector strives not only to attain impressive figures but also to cultivate a comprehensive ecosystem rooted in sustainable, responsible, and inclusive practices.

    On the other hand, despite India being renowned for its existing multifaceted tourism offerings and world-class hospitality, standing as a promising destination on the global stage, India’s positioning in global tourism rankings falls short of its true potential.

    Therefore, the question still prevails, how relevant is AmritKaal vision in India considering the current tourism capacity? How is India gearing up for Tourism@2047? Is India able to harness its current tourism potential to cater even the existing demand? What factors block the path to witnessing the explosion of the powerhouse?

    A panel discussion ‘Tourism @2047: AmritKaal Threadbare’ during the recently concluded SATTE 2024, discussed on creating a blueprint to harness the untapped potential of the Indian inbound and domestic tourism, and achieve the vision of making India a numero uno tourism destination by 2047.

    India’s Current Spot in Global Tourism Landscape

    During the session, Abhay Sinha, Director General of Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC)-India, put forward some latest data that reflected India’s position in the global tourism rankings. The global trade tourism market has been 11.1 trillion in 2022 and it is expected to grow to 16.9 by 2030. He said that the contribution of travel and tourism in the global economy is going to grow at 5.8%, which is double the average growth rate of the economy i.e 2.7%. The job opportunities that the sector is expected to create is about 126 billion additional jobs.

    In the global market, India has close to 3% share in tourism. The contribution of this sector in India’s GDP is quite high, in 2018 it was USD 247.37 billion, which dipped down to USD 121.9 billion in 2020 and then rose to USD 178 billion in 2021. The foreign tourist arrivals stood at 10.56 million in 2018, 10.93 million in 2019, 2.74 million in 2020, 1.52 million in 2021, and 6.44 million in 2022, according to the data sourced from the Bureau of Immigration. In 2023, the (provisional) foreign tourist arrival figures till October stood at 7.24 million. “We have a long road to march ahead. In terms of numbers and value, we are yet to achieve what is expected, having such huge potential”, mentioned Sinha.

    To increase India’s share in the global tourism market, the aim of GoI is to attract more tourism not only from the traditional source markets but also from the new emerging ones. For this, MoT is adopting integrated marketing and promotional strategy and synergized campaign in association with State governments and Indian missions. Despite of such huge potential, some areas of concern persists like India being ranked as 114th in safety & security, 104th in health & hygiene, 134th in environmental sustainability, 110th rank in tourist service infrastructure, 104th in prioritizing of travel & tourism and 112th in ICT readiness.

    On the other hand, Sinha also highlighted government’s take saying that a lot of key initiatives have been taken as per MoT reports, 76 projects have been sanctioned under Swadesh Darshan scheme. The niche areas that are identified: Cruise, Adventure, Medical & Wellness, Golf, Polo, MICE, Eco-tourism, Film Tourism, Sustainable Tourism, Rural Tourism. On the request of the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of External Affairs has designated Tourism Officers in 20 Indian Missions overseas for promoting India as tourism destination. 

    “Recently, the Finance Minister also mentioned about tourism to be taken on a mission mode, with the active participation of States, conversions of govt. programs, and public-private partnerships. So, the points where we need to look closely at is inbound tourism, impact of outbound tourism on inbound tourism, data collection, global branding, issues and challenges, benchmarking and global practices, technology, capacity building, skilling, and domestic tourism”, opined Sinha.

    Hurdles towards the vision of Tourism@2047

    Mentioning about the roadblocks on the way of AmritKaal@2047, Akanksha Garg, Founder & Director, Waxpol Hotels & Resorts said “When we talk about other challenges, we don’t look at the carrying capacity of the destination. I believe every destination should a set a carrying capacity, especially when based in a natural habitat form or has natural heritage. When I see Shimla, there is no view of mountains now, but just shops and small houses, when I go to national parks, those have become wedding destinations”. According to Garg, the destination must be presented with its own natural essence as people want to experience the local culture and natural beauty in its own form. “Another major problem that I witnessed is skilling. The hotel industry is not at par with industry pay scale. The operating costs are very high, there must be some sort of incentive system for this industry too”, she added.

    Isha Goyal, Chief Executive Officer, STIC Travel Group also opined that the primary challenge that India tourism is facing is the global messaging. “I think the mindset of ‘inbound vs outbound’ is just fundamentally wrong, it has to be ‘inbound and outbound’. Our domestic destinations and hotels must be able to compete with international destinations in terms of quality, pricing, safety, sustainability, and more. Last few years have been all about collaboration, we must learn from others on how our inbound can be at par with our outbound, not considering it a threat. Also, India’s messaging on a global platform is an important area where we need to learn”. According to Goyal, everybody on the planet knows ‘India is Incredible’ and tiny destinations are doing all to showcase what they have to offer to Indian travelers. But India pavilions in global platform still look like the way they did 25 years ago. “Our ‘tourist office’ concept is defunct and this is not relevant in today’s world. We have to show the world how are we ‘incredible’, we have to make India accessible through marketing and look safe, attractive and fun”, opined Goyal.

    Adding more to challenges, Anil Parashar, Director, Interglobe Aviation mentioned, “In the space of last four months, we have seen two new destinations have come up from nowhere. As we talk about overtourism in certain destinations, my suggestion would be that lets create new destinations. Look at Ayodhya and Lakshwadeep, can we create new destinations like these?” According to him, India needs infrastructure and communication. The other aspect where India needs to think big time is the skilling. “India has huge talent; we have to focus on how do we get people ready to deliver. As long as we focus on these areas, we would be on the right track”, added Parashar. “Maybe by 2047, you will see India to be a global leader. The target that we are expecting by 2047 is around 100 million inbound tourists, where in 2019 it was around 10 million. As we talk about domestic tourism, the vision that we are looking at achieving is 20 billion. And we have many stalwarts in the industry who are all together working on achieving this vision”, revealed PP Khanna, President, ADTOI.

    But during peak seasons overtourism is happening in certain areas, especially the hilly destinations. “This is because our country doesn’t have a systematic mechanism where we monitor the registrations or booking in advance to restrict excess entry after a certain limit or capacity.  We can’t blame govt. everytime, but raise our own views guiding the govt. on what areas we need to focus on. There must be a comprehensive study for all States and collect data, we would know which period which destination has what capacity in terms of hotels, restaurants, parking, transportation and more, so that we can manage efficiently and reach targets” he added.

    On the same lines, Ankush Nijhawan, Co-Founder, TBO.com opined that the fundamental problem that exists is the demand and supply. “And I am talking about 2030, not even 2047. Do we have enough rooms to even cater domestic or business demand? Before even thinking about large numbers, we have to think about the supply of hotels”, questions Nijhawan.

    He added, “Besides, India is becoming a very powerful financial hub in Asia. The amount of financial communities and investors visiting India are anyway filling up the hotels, spending top dollars and supporting our inbound. Demand is not the issue, but supply is. There is so much already for us to cater, and we need to think about how to do it right before looking at growth.”

    Also, on the tech side, he mentioned that India is way behind. “Look at our own site at Incredible India, are we AI enabled? Are we showing the right thing the way the customer is browsing? We need to have the tech correct to create a marketplace and enable suppliers to offer what they have”, Nijhawan added.

    Cross-Sectional Perspective

    To achieve an ambitious growth, Roshan M. Thomas, Director (OM & IDIP), Ministry of Tourism, mentioned that India needs to have an out-of-the-box strategy. “Is creating large hotel rooms the solution? It would be at the cost of dislocation of the native or indigenous population. What we are trying to achieve must be inclusive and indulge without minimum dislocation. The unlimited potential of ‘Tourism’ is not restricted to one word ‘Tour’. Tourism is magic to any sector, or even secondary or tertiary economic activity. If you add ‘Tourism’ to any other sector activity, it will simply add more value to it. It is our necessity and our demand to offer different types of tour options to let one spend one’s time.” He said that no matter which sector one is working in, one has to promise to provide happiness, satisfaction, and more to the visitors. Once we start figuring out the micro emotions of tourism psychology, money would automatically follow”, Thomas added.

    Another area where the challenge prevails is overtourism. “India has about 6200 km mainland shoreline, but when we talk about beach vacation, we just focus on 60 kms Goan shoreline. If we properly market our potential, we will have 600 Goas in our shoreline. We have 75% of Himalayas vested in India, but all we see is visiting Shimla or Ladakh and causing over-crowding. We have Aravalli, Sahyadri, Vindhya, Northeastern Himalayas, and what not. If tourists wish to experience the feeling of travel and exploration, that needs to be offered with minimum impact to the environment. Rather than creating resorts and spas and dislocating people to cater to the demand, we can empower the local communities of the destination and give them opportunities. And in this regard, the big players have to come forward”, opined Thomas.

    “Another crucial area is that India is not counter-arguing its negative image or rating. If the world is considering India as unhygienic, unsafe, unclean, the citizens are not counter-arguing the same. And this lets people across the world to start targeting and do negative branding of India”, he added.

    Charting the Path for Tourism@2047

    To overcome the challenges, Nijhawan suggested that on the infrastructure supply side, there needs to be some kind of subsidiary benefits for hotel owners and brands to ease up the process of opening hotels, which will help cater demand. On the tech side, if somebody is searching for India, the answer has to be ‘what beyond’. “India can’t have the same booths, when Incredible India has done great job in the last five years. Digitization is extremely important, why would someone go out of the website of Incredible India and look for other destinations”. He further suggested that the industry must keep the demographics in mind, who is searching for India and what age groups. Tech will ensure that when somebody is browsing for India, the booking conversion is made.

    Khanna also suggested that two segments where India can grow are MICE & Weddings.People are going abroad for weddings and business because of GST, lack of incentives, etc. And if facilities are there, the awareness might not be there, even at the part of stakeholders. So, awareness and information are the need of the hour.

    Parashar questioned “We are talking about shortage of hotels and resorts, can we look at homestays? If yes, is there consistency and safety? According to him, these issues need to be addressed. India needs to have the resources and consistency to address the flow of tourists from overseas.

    Communication is the area where India needs to actively look on, and working together in between the government and stakeholders, mentioned Goyal. When we look at our goals for 2047, it must include a comprehensive look at the tourism ecosystem beyond the core industry. The ecosystem of tourism extends beyond hospitality, airports, to other sectors as well that support tourism and contribute to both domestic and international takeaway, safety, hygiene and all of it. A roadmap for 2047 has to cover from a regulatory, sustainability, communication standpoint as well as goals, from all sectors.

    Garg mentioned, “I would want India @2047 to definitely have more accessible tourism. And along that side, preserve the natural heritage that we have, develop small boutique destinations, and have great connectivity. Also, the Incredible India website must be made a central source of information for everybody in the tourism platform.”

    Thomas concluded saying that India is too big than just a country, and every 200 kms changes in terms of culture, language, preferences. From a Delhi perspective, the Ministry cannot create the guidelines that can encompass the entire perspective of India. It is very easy to have a generic guideline when a destination is offering two-three tourism products. But India has a large number of offerings in its bucket, that again flow down to different stratum which again have regional variations. This is the area where the sector partners and the associations, will have to take the lead. 





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