India shines as a bright spot in the Global Tourism scenario

Tourism is a sunrise industry in India with a multiplier effect on the economy. Couple this with the favorable demographic dividend, you get a perfect recipe for a vibrant and progressive India.

Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index

Recently, World Economic Forum (WEF) launched its Biennial Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index report that ranks 136 nations of the world on various parameters. The good news is that India climbed up 12 places and reached 40th place in a matter of two years!  The report also noted that this was the largest leap made by any country in the top 50!

This is a significant achievement for all of us and shows that India can bounce back even after a few infamous incidents. These incidents had led various countries issuing advisories against visiting India. Thus, the rapid improvement in India’s ranking is a testimony to India’s rich cultural and natural heritage. The results are a manifestation of India’s sincere efforts towards travel, tourism and hospitality!

For a country that hosted 2.65 million tourists in 2000 and earned a Foreign exchange of USD 3.5 billion, went on to host 8.89 million tourists in 2016 and earned $23 billion in 2015. Isn’t that a big jump? Is that jump in FTA and FEE enough? Is everything as rosy as it seems?

Let us have a look at the global tourism stats.

Global tourism rankings; France, USA, Spain, China, Italy, India

We can observe that India is doing a lot on the tourism front but those efforts are not enough! For instance, I came across a heartwarming news a few days back. In an Incredible India event held on 24th March 2017, India assured the safety of Indonesian tourists. A hotline number, 1800111363 was launched with a short code of 1363 so that tourists can seek answers to their queries regarding their trip to India or report a problem! Isn’t that a good step?

You would also remember the liberalization and expansion of E-Visa scheme to accommodate the travel requirements of Foreigners visiting India for various purposes. You can read the blog here: https://goo.gl/SPGI4u

Key performance indicators for judging India's WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index
Key performance indicators for judging India’s WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index

Way Forward:

Thus, no doubt, we are taking steps to increase Foreign tourist arrival in India and thereby enhance the Foreign Exchange receipts. However, more steps can be taken. Here, are a few steps that the BnBNation team compiled. I am grateful to Dr. GG Saxena and Anshul Saxena for taking out time to provide their valuable inputs. These steps are cherry-picked and implementable and can help India improve its WEF rankings further:

  • Tourism should be made part of the Concurrent list:

    Tourism should be brought under Concurrent list. Currently, it is part of the State list which means that states can do whatever they want in tourism. This is not a problem but doing not as much or taking ad-hoc measures to improve state tourism is a problem for India’s tourism in the long run! Thus, if tourism is made part of the concurrent list, there will be a standardization of the tourism planning process at the central level, yet there will be flexibility for all states to mix their own flavor of tourism!

  • Past precedents

    Earlier, education was a part of the state list but was brought under the concurrent list later. The government allocated 5% of the total outlay to it and education has seen marvelous results since then. Moreover, 18 states had shown willingness to include Tourism in the concurrent list earlier, during the formation of National Tourism Policy 2002, so, Government can still do the needful and give Tourism the much-needed impetus to Tourism!

    India's WEF rank in cultural resources
    Isn’t India doing well on the cultural front?
  • Increased allocation to tourism sector:

    Tourism is allocated only 0.1% of total budget outlay which is meager by all means. This may be due to the fact that Tourism is a state subject and the central government may feel no need to allocate more money to it. However, whatever be the reason, a point to note is that Tourism is also part of the social sector just like agriculture and health which are again a part of state list in the Indian Constitution. However, the allocation for the agricultural sector is usually 4% and for rural development, it is 5%. Thus, in the same vein, the Government should increase the allocation to the tourism sector to at least 5%. This would allow soft skill training of tourism and hospitality stakeholders, service infrastructure improvement, improvement of last mile connectivity etc.

    Effect on WEF T&T rankings

    An increased allocation to the tourism sector will improve the following key performance indicators:

    1. ‘Prioritisation of Travel and Tourism’ from the current 104th rank;
    2. ‘Safety and Security’ from the current 114th rank;
    3. ‘Business environment’ from the current 89th rank;
    4. ‘Environment sustainability’ from the current 134th rank
  • Drafting a fresh National Tourism Policy-

    National tourism policy places at the forefront, the short-term, mid-term and long-term plans of the Government. In the light of the clarity of goals, all stakeholders move in one direction and ad hoc measures, which are currently the norm, take a backseat. A National Tourism policy lays out a plan for the existing as well as future government. The last National Tourism policy was laid out in 2002 and the draft for National Tourism Policy 2015 has been crafted and sent to the PMO but with no response. India-Pakistan skirmish and the Demonetisation drive adversely affected the tourism sector in India. (Here is the blog on Demonetisation: https://goo.gl/TP984m). Some outbound agencies have been complaining of a higher tax slab due to GST which would be addressed if the new NTP is brought about. We had earlier written about GST: https://goo.gl/P7LtPJ.

    Effect on WEF T&T rankings

    Drafting a fresh National Tourism policy in line with the current needs of the various tourism stakeholders will improve the following key performance indicators in the future WEF Rankings:

    1. ‘International Openness’ from the current 55th rank;
    2. ‘ICT readiness’ from the current 112th rank;
    3. Business environment from the current 89th rank;
    4. ‘Price competitiveness’ will see an improvement from an already impressive 10th rank;
    5. ‘Prioritisation of Travel and Tourism’ from the current 104th rank;
    6. ‘Tourist Service Infrastructure’ from the current 110th rank;
    7. ‘Safety and Security’ from the current 114th rank;
    8. ‘Business environment’ from the current 89th rank;
    9. ‘Environment sustainability’ from the current 134th rank, which is abysmal;

Thus, a concrete National Tourism policy is the need of the hour!

The BnB in south delhi is a spacious, luxurious, modern apartment on the second floor of large town house in South Delhi with two attractive balconies and a charming bijou roof terrace garden.
The BnB in south delhi is a spacious, luxurious, modern apartment on the second floor of large town house in South Delhi with two attractive balconies and a charming bijou roof terrace garden.
  • Sustainable and Responsible Tourism-

    The Government should be intent on building more Bed and Breakfast accommodations than hotels as they are more economical and consumer fewer resources than a normal hotel! Yes, you heard it right! BnB’s are more sustainable and more responsible than a hotel! We have already discussed why a BnB is better than a hotel in an earlier blog post: https://goo.gl/A2Do6a.

    Effect on WEF T&T rankings

    More emphasis on registering more BnB’s and marketing them on government websites will affect the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness indicators in the following ways:

    1. ‘International Openness’ from the current 55th rank;
    2. ‘ICT readiness’ from the current 112th rank;
    3. ‘Prioritisation of Travel and Tourism’ from the current 104th rank;
    4. ‘Tourist Service Infrastructure’ from the current 110th rank;
    5. ‘Safety and Security’ from the current 114th rank;

Thus, the Indian Government should consider the above points with immediate effect. This shall improve the economy of India!

7 thoughts on “India shines as a bright spot in the Global Tourism scenario”

  1. I totally agree with everything you said, you have some great ideas there! Though I do believe that not just India, but many countries could improve a lot in their tourism sectors. India seems like such a amazing/beautiful country, that I myself would like to visit someday. I hope after fixing some of the points you mentioned, India gets the proper tourism and recognition it deserves.

    1. Hi tara,

      It’s heartening to receive your positive thoughts on the blog post. I am in firm agreement with what you said “that the most friendly tourist destinations would have a lot to improve”! However, with such natural and cultural heritage on offer in my country it pains to find out that India accounts for only 0.68% of global foreign tourist arrival!

      Regards

  2. That is such a detailed report and you are so well read about the industry. I rarely look at such reports but realize now that i must. It tells you so much about trends and shifts in the travel industry. I am glad Indian government is taking all these steps in the right direction.

  3. What a wonderful information and post. I am so happy with the Indias stats. It is actually an incredible country. Hope to see more responsible tourosm ahead.

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