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Synopsis: Tourism infrastructure has huge untapped potential in India especially with respect to jobs. The government has to take steps to unleash the full potential.
As per the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report of 2019, India improved from 65th position in 2013 to 34th position in 2019. However, the Indian tourism and hospitality sector was adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and saw substantial job loss.
Why does India need to focus on the tourism sector?
As per the estimates of the erstwhile “Planning Commission”, an investment of ₹1 million generates 78 jobs in the tourism sector. In the manufacturing sector, it results in just 18 jobs and in the agriculture sector, it is 45.
The growth in this sector has multiplier effects on income generation as it is employment-intensive with less capital investment and that too without any industrial gestation period.
The India Skill Report, 2019, estimates the Indian workforce to increase to about 600 million by 2022, from the current 473 million. In light of these facts, the tourism sector has the potential to absorb some new entrant workforce.
|Read more: The potential of rural tourism in India|
What steps does the government of India has taken?
During the pre-pandemic period: Many initiatives were adopted to promote the tourism sector, such as providing e-visas under various categories for people from particular countries, Global Media Campaigns, the Heritage Trail and the Paryatan Parv celebration.
During the Pandemic: The government announced financial support for more than 11,000 registered tourist guides/travel and tourism stakeholders.
It also said once international travel resumes, the first five lakh tourists will be issued visas free of charge.
How India’s tourism sector can improve further?
Though these measures are commendable, India needs other long-term measures too, to tap the potential of this sector.
India needs a groundbreaking innovation strategy that has the potential to create employment opportunities and increase revenue through private sector growth. For that, support from the government for ideation and access to finance are required.
There is a need to train the workforce in India so that workers can develop the skills to perform jobs in the travel and tourism sector.
The international arrivals have remained comparatively low, at around 9 to 10 million. Thus, there is a need to highlight the significance of public-private partnership to improve infrastructure and tackle the problem of end connectivity, which negatively affect the experiences of international travellers.
The travel and tourism industry in India is also fragmented, hindering the ability of the sector to achieve its potential. This area needs to be worked upon.
India should take a cue from best practices across the world, especially with regard to the use of technology. There are examples worldwide on blockchain-based money solutions to kick-start local tourism industries.
Source: This post is based on the article “Boost tourism through disruption” published in “The Hindu” on 13th Oct 2021.