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2014 is expected to be a year of above-average growth for Travel & Tourism in India to counteract a weak performance for domestic travel in 2013. That is according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which has unveiled its Annual Economic Impact Data and forecasts for India today.

WTTCs Annual Economic Impact Report 2014 for India shows Travel & Tourism’s economic contribution is expected to grow by 7.3 per cent this year, outperforming the general economy by 2.5 percentage points.

Revenues gained from domestic tourism rose by 5.1 per cent in 2013 and is expected to increase by 8.2 per cent in 2014. The amount that International visitors spent in India rose by 6.2 per cent in 2013 but is forecast to slow to a 2.9 per cent growth rate in 2014.

David Scowsill, President and CEO of WTTC, says the predicted boost to tourism in 2014 will be appreciated after a tough year for the general economy in India; “Inbound tourism is continuing to grow both in terms of international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts. But, it is the domestic market which will see particularly strong growth in 2014 with more investment and more Indians travelling”.

The Government of India has recently announced that it proposes to extend visa on arrival and Electronic Travel Authorization for tourists from 180 countries and to speed up the application process for those still requiring a paper visa to only three days. Scowsill says that WTTC and WTTC India Initiative welcome this historic initiative; “This is a result of our continuing conversations with the Government authorities to encourage Freedom to Travel for legitimate, bona fide tourists who want to visit India. It will give a necessary boost and competitive advantage to India against other destinations in South Asia and Middle East. This will also provide a major thrust to jobs and employment both direct and indirectly linked with the tourism sector in India. We hope the Government ensures an effective rollout of this much-anticipated program before the ensuing tourist season in 2014. Long term, we would also encourage India to move towards e-visa applications”.

A study undertaken by WTTC and UNWTO in 2012 (The Impact of Visa Facilitation on Job Creation in the G20 Economies, May 2012. UNWTO and WTTC) shows that India will gain from improvements to its visa regime. The research  estimates that improved visa facilitation could result in up to 6 million more international visitors for India, resulting in US$8 million more spend and creating 1.8 million jobs over three years.

Scowsill continues; “This latest announcement is a significant step towards achieving these substantial economic gains. A simple additional step of adding the capability for mulitiple entry to these visas on arrival for a longer period such as 6 months could allow India to capitalise on the long term potential from Travel & Tourism”.

In 2013 Travel & Tourism contributed INR6,631.6 billion to the economy of India and generated 35 million jobs. The WTTC research also highlights the size of Travel & Tourism around the world:

* In 2013, Travel & Tourism contributed US$7 trillion to the global economy and is expected to grow by 4.2 per cent in 2014. The total global contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the industry, was  266 million jobs (8.9% of total employment) – one in 11 of all jobs on the planet

* In 2014, the industry globally is expected to grow by 4.3%

Scowsill says 2013 proved another successful year for the Industry; “Travel & Tourism’s contribution to the world economy grew for the fourth consecutive year in 2013, helped especially by strong demand from international travellers. Visitor exports, the measure of money spent by these international tourists, rose by 3.9% at a global level year on year, to US$1.3 trillion, and by more than 10% within South East Asia.  It is clear that the growth in Travel & Tourism demand from emerging markets continues with pace, as the burgeoning middle-classes, especially from Asia and Latin America, are willing and more able than ever to travel both within and beyond their borders”.

However, Scowsill reminds Governments that they need to take action; “Travel & Tourism forecasts over the next ten years also look extremely favourable, with predicted growth rates of over 4 per cent annually that continue to be higher than growth rates in other industries.  Capitalising on the opportunities for this Travel & Tourism growth will, of course, require destinations and regional authorities, particularly those in emerging markets, to create favourable business climates for investment in the infrastructure and human resource support necessary to facilitate a successful and sustainable tourism industry.  At the national level, governments can also do much to implement more open visa regimes and to employ intelligent rather than punitive taxation policies. If the right steps are taken, Travel & Tourism can be a true force for good”.

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