Rethinking and Reimagining Tourism
- 28 Sep 2022
- 8 min read
This editorial is based on “Pitching India as a signature destination” which was published in The Hindu on 27/09/2022. It talks about the recent Dharamshala Declaration and future of the Tourism Sector in India.
Tourism has emerged as a key driver of economic growth. It is one of the fastest growing economic sectors and has significant impact on trade, job creation, investment, infrastructure development and social inclusion.
Tourism has been the most affected sector by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), this is by far the worst crisis international tourism has faced since records began in 1950.
Post Covid-19, it is a challenge for the tourism sector in India to return to business as usual while maintaining safety and hygiene. The crisis is an opportunity to consider the long-term implications of the crisis and reimagine the future of tourism and take coordinated action across governments at all levels and the private sector.
What is the Status of the Tourism Sector in India?
- The World Travel and Tourism Council's 2019 report ranks India's tourism at 10th in terms of its contribution to World GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
- India has 40 sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List (32 cultural, 7 natural, and 1 mixed) as of 2021.
- A total of 39 million jobs were created in the tourism sector in FY20, which represented 8% of the country's employment. By 2029, it will account for 53 million jobs.
What are the Recent Initiatives Related to Tourism in India?
What are the Challenges Related to the Tourism Sector in India?
- Lack of Training and Skill Development: Given that the tourism industry is a labour-intensive sector, it is undeniable that practical training plays an important role. Over the years, availability of trained manpower has not kept pace with growth of the tourism sector in India.
- The sector's growth is constrained by the limited number of multilingual trained guides and the inadequate understanding of the benefits and responsibilities involved in tourism among locals.
- Underutilization of Tourism Potential: India has an abundance of places that are left unexplored due to lack of surveys, infrastructure, and connectivity, which also results in lukewarm attitudes toward domestic tourism.
- For instance, despite the Northeast’s breathtaking natural beauty, it is not often seen in the travel itineraries of either domestic or international tourists in the country because of lack of connectivity with the rest of the country as well as a lack of infrastructure and necessary facilities.
- Overexploitation of Resources: Unsustainable Tourism often puts pressure on natural resources through overconsumption especially in Himalayan regions of India, where resources are already scarce.
- Unsustainable tourism also affects local land use, resulting in soil erosion, increased pollution, and loss of natural habitats of endangered species.
- Lack of Infrastructure and Security: It is a major challenge for the Indian tourism sector. It includes a lack of multi cuisine restaurants, basic health facilities, public transport and hygiene and safety & security of tourists.
- Attacks on foreign tourists, especially on women tourists have raised the security concern as India is placed at 114th position in terms of safety( WEF Index 2017).
What Should be the Way Forward?
- Global Opportunity for India: India's philosophy of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' sees the world as one family. It gives India an unwavering belief in multilateralism.
- Considering India’s rich heritage and culture, an unmatched variety of cuisine tourism can be a vehicle for enhancing India’s soft power and attracting foeign revenue.
- Recent Dharamshala Declaration that aims to recognise India's potential in supporting global tourism and also promote domestic tourism is a good step in this direction.
- Responsible, Inclusive, Green and Hospitable Tourism (RIGHT): To ensure better accountability, all stakeholders involved in tourism management need to be governed by a common umbrella of regulations.
- There is a need to focus on inclusive growth of tourism by creating opportunities for marginalised sections of society including people living in remote areas.
- Also, from Gautama to Gandhi, our Indian culture has always stressed the importance of living harmoniously with nature and within our means.
- It is important to promote green tourism with minimal disturbance to the natural ecosystem and maintain sustainable infrastructure so that warm hospitality can thrive.
- Unified Tourism System: An extensive market research and evaluation exercise can be undertaken in order to identify desired tourist destinations across the country and major markets and segments.
- Tourism Impact Assessment: The impact of tourism on local resources, atmosphere, and residents needs to be assessed regularly.
- Also, tourism regulations can be revised from time to time to address the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities, taking into account current and future economic, social and environmental impacts.
- One State One Tourism Mascot: State animals can be used as advertising mascots for Tourism Departments of different states as an innovative tool to promote tourism education, especially among children.
- Presidency of G20: India has an opportunity to position itself as a major tourism destination during India’s presidency of the G20 (December 2022- November 2023).
- India’s age-old dictum of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ will come to the fore as it welcomes delegates from different countries.
Drishti Mains Question
Covid crisis is an opportunity to reimagine the future of tourism in India. Discuss.