The tourism industry has made major advances in India in the past few years, and the progress has been steady and significant. Last year, the country received an all-time high number of tourists. The number of tourists in 2016 was 8.89 million; a jump from the 2.65 million tourists in 2000. The World Economic Forum has reported that India’s progress is commendable. In its Tourism Competitiveness Index, released recently, India has moved up 12 places and now ranks 40th among 136 nations. India made the biggest leap by any country in the top 50. While the performance is remarkable, it still shows underachievement because India has much more potential than is seen by the numbers. The performance of India in comparison with other countries underlines the potential which is yet to be tapped and this is what the government and others in the area should focus on.
France had the highest number of tourist arrivals at 84.5 million last year. China had 56.9 million and the tiny Singapore had 15 million visitors. Though France and other European countries which dominated the list had the advantage that only a single visa was needed to visit many countries, the performance of countries like China and Singapore exposes the weaknesses of India’s tourism strategy. An average tourist spends more money in India than in many other countries but this is poor consolation. India’s geographical, cultural and climatic diversity, historical and other monuments, places of great scenic beauty and other attractions should draw many more tourists to the country. If its strengths are showcased well, the country can even be among the top 10 destinations in the world. India has done well in business tourism but much more can be achieved in the entertainment category. While Kerala, Goa, Rajasthan and some other places are popular, many others need much more promotion.
Inadequate travel infrastructure, poor sanitation, cumbersome visa regulations, apprehensions over law enforcement and women’s safety, and inadequate promotional efforts and strategies are among the many reasons which have held the country back. There are improvements in many of these areas and that is why the industry has looked up in the recent past. Economic development and growth of areas like business tourism and medical tourism should help the industry to grow. Tourism is the industry which produces the maximum number of jobs for unit of investment and a thriving tourism industry should help many other sectors to grow. A happy tourist also carries home goodwill about the country of visit and thus raises its reputation and stature.
Source: Deccan Herald Image courtesy: Maps of India