Tourism & Hospitality sector has been universally recognised as an agent of development and an engine for socio-economic growth. According to WTTC’s India Benchmarking Report 2015, every $1 million in travel and tourism spending in India generates $1.3 million in GDP. According to a report released by the government, “Tourism & Hospitality sector has been a harbinger of ‘more inclusive growth’ in India by promoting other industries in the economy through backward and forward linkages and generating employment in various sectors such as hospitality, travel, and entertainment, wellness and other sectors.”
In the last two years, the Ministry of Tourism has undertaken several initiatives to provide a further boost to the sector such as launch of new schemes like Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD, revamping of existing schemes such as Hunar se Rozgar tak, extending e-Tourist Visas to more countries, developing a Mobile Application for Tourists, introducing an Incredible India Tourist Helpline, and undertaking various skill development initiatives such as setting up of Indian Culinary Institute, approval of new Institutes of Hotel Management etc, claims the report. Based on it, let’s take a look at some of the achievements in the Tourism and Hospitality Sector:
1) Creation of world class tourism related infrastructure: Swadesh Darshan scheme was launched by the Ministry of Tourism for the development of theme based tourist circuits to cater to both mass and niche tourism. Under this scheme that aims to develop world class infrastructure to promote cultural and heritage value of the country and enhance the tourist attractiveness, 27 projects for Rs. 2261.50 crore have been sanctioned for 21 States and Union Territories since its launch in January 2015.
- The National Mission for Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) scheme, was also launched by the Ministry for the development and beautification of pilgrimage sites to tap the growth of domestic tourists driven by spiritual/religious sentiments. The scheme seeks to augment tourism infrastructure at places of pilgrimage to provide better facilities to pilgrims/tourists and enhance their experience.
2) Growth in tourist footfalls: Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during the period January- July, 2016 were 49.22 lakh with a growth of 10.0% over the same period in 2015. In January-July 2015, FTAs of 44.73 lakh were registered with a growth of 4.6% over the same period in January- July, 2014. Foreign tourist visits (FTVs) to the States/UTs was 23.3 million in 2015, as compared to 22.3 million in 2014, registering a growth of 4.4% over 2014.
3) Ease of doing business: Ministry of Tourism has set up a Web-based Public Delivery System for recognition of Travel Trade Service Providers and for classification of hotels in order to ease the process of filing applications by Travel Trade Service Providers seeking recognition from the Ministry. This is also to bring in transparency in granting the approvals. This online process has also been integrated with payment gateway with effect from January 2016.
• Introduction of a Mobile App: The Ministry of Tourism launched a mobile application called Swachh Paryatan on February 22, 2016, which will let citizens report any hygiene issues at various tourist destinations across the country.
- Multilingual Tourist Helpline: The Ministry of Tourism launched the 24×7 Toll Free MultiLingual Tourist Helpline in 12 languages on February 8, 2016. It can be accessed on Toll Free Number 1800-11-1363 or short code 1363. The languages handled by the Tourist Helpline include ten international languages besides English and Hindi, namely, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
4) Other initiatives: Promoting the North-Eastern Region: The International Tourism Mart is organized every year in North-Eastern States with the objective to highlight the tourism potential in the region. The 4th International Tourism Mart was organized from 14-16 October, 2015 at Gangtok in Sikkim.
- Adarsh Smarak: ASI has identified 100 monuments to be developed as Model Monuments. These monuments would be provided necessary tourist facilities including Wi-Fi, security, signage, encroachment free area, interpretation centres showing short films about the importance of monuments and signboards of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Some of the monuments included in Adarsh Smarak scheme are Leh Palace (Leh), Humayun’s Tomb(New Delhi), Red Fort,(Delhi), Shore Temple (Mahabalipuram), Elephanta Caves (Mumbai), Taj Mahal (Agra), Rani-ki-Vav (Gujarat) among others.
5) Skill development: In 2014, Tourism & Hospitality sustained a total of 36.7 million direct, indirect, and induced jobs in India, which is more than the jobs created in banking, automotive manufacturing, chemicals manufacturing, education, financial services, and mining sectors.