Journey Of The Tourism Industry In India
“To travel is to feed the mind, humanise the soul,
And rub off the rust of circumstance,
To travel is to have nature’s plan and her high work simplified,
And her broad features of hill and dale,
Mountain and flood, Spread like a map at one’s feet.”
These are the lines of Thomas Cook, the man known as the father of modern tourism. He organised the first rail round trip in England in July 1841. The development of the Indian tourism industry began in the 19th century when the Sir John Sargent Committee was established in 1945 to promote and develop Indian tourism. In 1966, ITDC (Indian Tourism Development Corporation) came into existence and played a vital role in the country’s tourism industry’s development, promotion, and growth.
India’s tourism sector is a significant economic multiplier and is becoming increasingly important as the country strives for rapid economic growth and employment creation. India is covered in beauty in all its nooks and corners. This nation’s expansive landscape is decorated with the most diverse populations, cultures, and topographies. India also provides various geographical regions, world-class tourist attractions, and specialised travel services, including eco-tourism, heritage tourism, adventure tourism, medical tourism, etc.
The advancement of Tourism in India since the Independence
Planning for Indian tourism began after the country’s independence. In 1945, Sir John Sargent served as the committee’s chair. He was the government of India’s educational advisor at the time. Following that, India underwent systematic tourism growth. The second and third five-year plans have evolved the tourism planning methodology. The sixth five-year plan strongly emphasises using tourism as a tool for economic growth, social integration, and upholding peace. After the 1980s, the tourist sector proliferated as a source of jobs, revenue, foreign exchange, and leisure activity. The government has promoted the tourist industry through many vital actions.
But tourism didn’t take off until after the 1980s. The then government took some important initiatives. The Indian government released its first tourism policy in 1982. The goal of the First Tourism Policy was to advance sustainable tourism as a tool for social and economic inclusion and advance India’s reputation as a nation with a proud past, a thriving present, and a promising future. Six main categories, including swagat (welcome), suchana (information), suvidha (facilitation), suraksha (safety), sahyog (cooperation), and Samrachana (infrastructure development), would be the focus of the policies developed to do this.
This policy also prioritises developing and promoting tourism-related products, protecting the environment, and preserving cultural heritage. In 1982, the planning commission of India recognised tourism as an industry. According to the new policy, the tourist industry will be added to the concurrent list because doing so will give it constitutional recognition and enable the central government to enact legislation that will regulate the operations of various service providers in the tourism industry. The first tourist policy reached a major turning point when the tourism industry was added to the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution.
The National Committee on Tourism was established by the Indian Planning Commission in 1986 to create a future plan for the tourism industry. Additional tax exemptions on foreign exchange profits from tourism were among the concessions the central government announced for the industry. With a capital fund of Rs. 100 crores, the Tourism Development Finance Corporation was established in 1987 to provide commercial financing for the tourist sector. Another important National Action plan for Tourism was announced in 1992.
The Eighth Five Year Plan (1992-1997) strongly emphasised the private sector’s increased involvement in the tourism sector as a means of promoting tourism planning in India. In the year 2002, the Government of India announced National Tourism Policy. This policy is based on a multifaceted strategy that incorporates innovative marketing tactics, capacity building in the hospitality industry, faster or more rapid implementation of tourism project development, and integrated tourism circuits. Positioning tourism as a significant engine of economic growth is the primary goal of the National Tourism Policy of 2002.
The government works to accomplish this goal through promoting domestic and foreign inbound tourism, creating new tourist attractions, building tourist infrastructure, boosting agro-rural tourism, creating new tourist routes, and forming public-private partnerships.
Following the National Tourism Policy of 2002, the tenth five-year plan (2002-2007) supported skill development by promoting training programs in the hospitality and catering industries. The Himalayan adventure and beach tourism were pushed under the tenth five-year plan. Ayurveda, traditional craft markets, and pilgrimage sites all fall under the category of wellness tourism. Subsequently, more funding has been allocated for tourism development in the eleventh five-year plan (2007-2012). The eleventh five-year plan attempts to foster collaboration between the federal, state, and commercial sectors by extending the national tourist policy of 2002. Later, The Ministry of Tourism has undertaken various initiatives to promote tourism in the country, such as the ‘Incredible India Campaign’, the ‘Atithi Devo Bhavah program’, and the ‘Visit India campaign’ (2009).
Tourism participation took on a new aspect in the 12th five-year plan (2012–2017). The strategy emphasises the necessity to adopt a “pro-poor tourism” approach to increase the net benefits of tourism to the poor and ensure that tourism expansion helps to combat poverty.
Contribution of Tourism to the Indian Economy
“The outlook for the next decade is looking very positive with India accounting for one in five of all new Travel & Tourism jobs globally,” stated Julia Simpson, President & CEO of the WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council). Before the epidemic, India’s travel and tourism sector contributed 7% of the country’s GDP ($15.7 trillion, or $212 billion) in 2019, but that figure dropped to just 4.3% ($9.2 trillion, or $124 billion) in 2020, a startling 41.7% decrease. The sector’s economic contribution to the country might increase by 1% from 2019 to almost $15.9 trillion (the U.S. $215 billion) in 2022. With an 8.3% increase in employment this year, there will be close to 35 million jobs in the travel and tourism industry. The prediction also shows that during the next ten years, the industry is predicted to add more than 24 million employment or more than 2.4 million new positions annually. The sector provided more than 40 million jobs in 2019, but that number dropped to a little over 29 million in 2020 as the Covid pandemic decimated the industry. Its contribution to GDP increased 43.6% from the previous year to $178 billion (or 13.2 trillion) in the most recent year.
India’s travel and tourism sector is predicted to develop at an average annual rate of 7.8% over the next ten years, outpacing the country’s overall economic growth rate of 6.7%, and eventually account for 7.2% of the country’s GDP, or over $33.8 trillion (U.S. $457 billion). Even though the industry added just under 3 million personnel to the travel and tourism sector in 2021 (increasing overall by 10.2% to more than 32 million), it is still less than 8 million jobs as compared to 2019. Suppose it wasn’t for the effects of the Omicron variant, which caused the recovery of this industry a global stagnation and forced many governments to reinstitute strict travel restrictions. In that case, the sector’s contribution to economic growth and jobs could have been more significant.
Impacts of COVID – 19 Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic globally hit the travel and tourism industry in the worst possible way. Every aspect of the tourism industry, be it aviation, hotels, transportation, tour guides, or restaurants, all have been impacted negatively. India’s situation is not much different. A fall in tourist movements or arrivals began as early as February 2020. Also, there were unavoidable job losses in both the formal and informal sectors. About 21.5 million people in the tourism industry have lost their jobs due to the three waves of COVID-19.
A situation of economic disaster was caused by the lockdown, which disturbed the lives of billions of people. The Indian companies’ revenue during a half-year period was only 24.80% of what it was during the half-year. The loss of income over six months is equal to Rs. 23636.27 Crore, roughly equivalent to the nominal GDP of Manipur or the state of Arunachal Pradesh for the 2017–18 fiscal year. The loss incurred during the half-year post-Covid equates to 75.20% of the preceding half-year. Companies’ net loss for that half-year period equals 74.70% of their income for the current half-year. There are thousands of small, unorganised travel and tourist service companies in India. Numerous people working in this sector were seriously impacted, and many still struggle to support themselves.
Now the world’s interest in travel is reviving amid the pandemic. Worldwide travellers to Asia are set to rise by 100% between 2022 and 2023. Flight bookings to the area, particularly to India, are also increasing, demonstrating the re-establishing confidence of people in air travel in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hotels have also been capitalising on the growing travel trend by creating all-inclusive packages and deals. These efforts will encourage customers to pack their bags and travel internationally like they used to back in the day.
Undoubtedly tourism is proliferating in India, but this should not make the policy makers inattentive to the new development occurring rapidly in this sector. Proper planning and infrastructure development need to be done for the new types of tourism like wellness tourism, culinary tourism, sustainable tourism, eco-tourism, and many more.
In the end, I would like to conclude that if India can harness its advantages in this sector, the day is not far when tourism will become one of the strongest pillars of the Indian economy. Since the world is celebrating Tourism Day on 27 September, with the theme of “Rethinking Tourism”. It aims to stimulate discussion on how to rethink tourism for development, mainly through employment and education, as well as the industry’s impact on the environment and potential for more sustainable growth. Let us hope for the sustainable development of the entire Indian tourism industry and for the people who are directly and indirectly associated with it.
Aarifa Nadeem is from Jhansi, UP. She has qualified UGC NET in Tourism Administration & Management and is currently pursuing her PhD in Tourism from Bundelkhand University, Jhansi.