India is dotted with tourist spots, which are evenly spread. There is hardly any corner in India which does not offer something unique to tourists—whether domestic or foreign. The Central and state governments need to join hands to promote tourism sector vigourously. A well-crafted promotional policy is required to increase the footfall of tourists at not only important tourist spots, but also at those places which are not so prominently known. Given India’s cultural and ethical diversity, there is a huge scope for attracting a large number of foreign tourists as well. Improved facilities, guarantee to their safety and security and easy access to tourist spots are some of the things which potential tourists look for while deciding about their travel destinations. By and large, India offers better atmosphere than many other countries in Asia and hence is suitably placed to emerge as a real tourist hub provided there is a consistency in the government efforts in promoting tourism in the country.
If one goes by the latest foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) through tourism released by the Union Ministry of Tourism for the month of July 2017, there is certainly a kind of improvement in the arrival of foreign tourists, but not yet close to the potential India offers in tourism sector. Union Ministry of Tourism estimates monthly FEEs through tourism in India, both in rupee and dollar terms based on the credit data of travel head from the balance of payments of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). FEEs during the month of July 2017 were Rs 14,986 crore as compared to Rs 14,285 crore in June 2016 and Rs 11,982 crore in July 2015. The growth rate in FEEs in rupee terms in July 2017 over July 2016 was 4.9 per cent as compared to growth of 19.2 per cent in July 2016 over July 2015.
FEEs during the period January-July 2017 were Rs 1,02,082 crore registering a growth of 17.3 per cent over same period of previous year. FEEs during January-July 2016 were Rs 87,034 and registered a growth of 14.5 per cent over January-July, 2015. FEEs in US $ terms during the month of July 2017 were US $ 2.325 billion as compared to FEEs of US $ 2.125 billion during the month of July 2016 and US $ 1.884 billion in July 2015. The growth rate in FEEs in US $ terms in July 2017 over July 2016 was 9.4 per cent as compared to a positive growth of 12.8 per cent in July 2016 over July 2015. FEEs during the period January-July 2017 were US $ 15.555 billion registering a growth of 20.2 per cent over same period of previous year. The FEEs during January-July 2016 were US $ 12.943 billion and registered a growth of 7.1 per cent over January-July 2015.
Given the role of tourism in the country’s economy, the Central should have a proactive policy in this regard. It is heartening indeed to note here that the current Central government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making concerted efforts in improving better connectivity in our north-eastern states, which are tourist havens in India. The state governments should also adopt a proactive approach in exploiting their tourism potential to their economic advantage. It has normally been observed that state governments are not so proactive in harnessing their tourism potential, despite the fact that tourism generates employment opportunities at multiple levels. It is high time to get out of this dormancy and accelerate efforts to promote India as a tourist hub globally and nationally.
(The writer is Director, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Chandigarh. Views are his personal)