The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its white paper on India’s US$20 billion tourism opportunity at their annual India Economic Summit recently. The report estimated that with a growth in international arrivals to 20 million in India, the upside opportunity would be US$19.9 billion in incremental tourism receipts from international travellers and the creation of approximately one million additional jobs. Several top names from the Indian travel and aviation industry have contributed towards the findings in the report.
As India has launched the Incredible India 2.0 with a budget of over US$ 46million the WEF report puts forward few recommendations highlighting the importance of public-private cooperation in its execution.
Take advantage of the unexplored 600,000 villages with their own cultures and heritage, ecotourism and cruise tourism to create unique experiences for travellers
Integrate the Incredible India campaign into a holistic campaign that includes not only print but also other channels, such as digital, social, placement, review sites and global media – and that focuses on the positives of visitor-created content, while addressing the challenges these visitors report
Enhance the perception and reality of India as a safe destination by designing and implementing enhanced security protocols
Invest in both physical and digital infrastructure development to confront the issue of last mile connectivity, hazardous road travel and the lack of affordable hotels hampering international travellers’ experiences, while elevated taxes hinder the industry’s profitability
Take advantage of the labour force available in India to provide a quality product to tourists, by training skilled and unskilled workers in the hospitality industry through both public and private programmes
India’s travel and tourism industry is a key employment creator that supported 40.3 million jobs in 2016 and accounted for 9.3 per cent of the country’s total jobs. Aditi Balbir, Founder and CEO, V Resorts and one of the key contributors to the WEF report said, “The industry is people focused and the quality of its people defines the value of the product. Hence the need to train and educate staff is acute here. The industry has the power to create jobs across the economy – at various skill levels- and for the marginalised sectors of the society such a young people and women and in areas where other opportunities are scarce.” With 80+ resorts across 15 Indian states, V Resorts follows the policy of integrating the local community in their operations and already has close to 1000 locals on their payroll staff.
The WEF white paper also recommends a proposal to create a Tourism Board. Currently, India’s travel and tourism industry is fragmented and lacks a unified public- private body to represent the industry, in turn hindering its ability to achieve its potential. This board could support enhancing industry coordination, public -private sector initiatives and enacting change through policy recommendations.
Incidentally, India welcomed nine million international travellers in 2016 and its domestic demand nearly touched the 100 million mark. Add to this fact that India is effectively one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world and according to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, is one of the most improved nations, reaching 40th position compared to 65th in 2013.