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Indian Heritage & Culture

Tourism in India

  • 23 Jan 2019
  • 7 min read

Why in News?

Growth of 5.6% in Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during the period January-November 2018, as compared to the same period of the previous year.

Tourism in India (in brief)

  • India attracted lot of travelers in the past due to its fabled wealth. Visit of Hieun-tsang, a devout Chinese Buddhist is an example of this.
  • Pilgrim Travel got a boost when Emperors like Ashoka and Harsha started building rest houses for pilgrims.
  • ‘The Arthashastra’ pointing out the importance of the travel infrastructure for the state, played important role in the past.
  • Post-Independence, Tourism continuously remained part of the Five Year Plans.
  • Different forms of Tourism like Business Tourism, Health Tourism, and Wildlife Tourism etc. were introduced in India after seventh FYP.

Latest Stats

  • India’s Tourism is ranked at 7th position in terms of its contribution to World GDP in World Travel and Tourism Council’s report in 2017.
  • India as of now in 2018 has 37 sites listed under ‘World Heritage List’, 6th most highest (29 cultural, 7 natural and 1 mixed site) in the world. Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai were the latest to be added in 2018.
  • Growth of 2.3% in the number of Domestic Tourist Visits in 2017 as compared to 2016.
  • Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism registered a growth of 11.9% during the period January-October 2018 as compared to the same period of the previous year.

Importance of ‘Tourism’ in India

  • Generates Income and Employment: In 2017, Tourism Industry accounted for 8% of the total employment. An increase has been witnessed in the sale of handlooms, handicrafts etc.
  • Service Sector: It gives a push to service sector. A large number of businesses engaged in service sector such as airlines, hotel, surface transportation, etc. grows with the growth of tourism industry.
  • Foreign Travelers help India in getting Foreign Exchange.
  • Tourism helps in preservation of National Heritage and Environment by bringing in focus the importance of sites and need to preserve them.
  • Renewal of Cultural Pride: Tourist spots being appreciated globally instills a sense of pride among Indian residents gets reinforced.
  • Infrastructural Development: Now-a-days, it is ensured that Travelers do not face any problem; multiple use infrastructures are getting developed at several tourist places. Uttarakhand’s plan to start mobile caravans is a latest example.
  • It helps in bringing India on global map of tourism, earning appreciation, recognition and initiates cultural exchange.
  • Tourism as a form of soft power, helps in promoting cultural diplomacy, people to people connect and thereby promotes friendship and cooperation between India and other countries.

Challenges to the Growth of Tourism in India

  • Tourists in India still face many infrastructure related problems like inadequate roads, water, sewer, hotels and telecommunications etc.
  • Safety and security of tourists, especially of the foreign tourists, is a major hurdle to the tourism development. Attacks on foreign nationals raise questions about India’s ability to welcome tourists from far away countries. Among the 130 countries surveyed, India was placed at the 114th position in terms of safety and security aspect in the WEF Index 2017.
  • Lack of skilled manpower is another challenge to Tourism Industry in India.
  • Absence of basic amenities like drinking water, well maintained toilets, first aid, cafeteria etc. at tourist places.
  • Seasonality in Tourism, with the busy season being limited to six months from October to March and heavy rush in November and December.
  • Non-acceptance of International Cards at small outlets.

Recent Steps

  • Indian Government has taken following steps to overcome the challenges:
  • Swadesh Darshan Scheme: Under it, the Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for infrastructure development of 13 identified theme based circuits.
    • 13 Circuits are: North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.
  • Integrated development of identified pilgrimage destinations (includes employment generation) has been undertaken under the ‘National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) Scheme.
  • "Adopt a Heritage Project" plans to entrust heritage sites/monuments and other tourist sites to private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals for the development of various tourist amenities.
  • Celebration of Paryatan Parv from 16th to 27th September, 2018, to encourage Indians to visit tourist destination in India.
  • Incredible India Website to promote to and engage with travelers.
  • Online Learning Management System for creating skilled manpower to work as tourist facilitators.

Way Forward

  • Faster development of all sort of infrastructure (physical, social and digital) is a need of hour.
  • Safety of tourists is a priority. An official guide system can be launched for tourists.
  • Indian Residents should be motivated to treat tourists well, so that tourists don’t face any type of fraud.
  • Promotion of other forms of Tourism like Medical Tourism, Adventure Tourism etc. to solve the problem of seasonality. Off-season concession is another solution.
  • India’s size and massive natural, geographic, cultural and artistic diversity offers enormous opportunities. Indian Tourism industry should play on that.
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