We need to look at the domestic tourism segment more closel : Subodh Kant Sahai
Union Tourism Minister Shri Subodh Kant Sahai has said that lack of hygiene and cleanliness in India are a major cause of concern for domestic and international tourists. Chairing the meeting of the National Tourism Advisory Council held here today he said, to address this problem the Ministry of Tourism is launching a major cleanliness drive under Clean India Campaign (CCI) initiative. Shri Sahai said “ we want corporate houses, PSUs and banks to come forward and adopt important destinations to help keep them clean. The CCI will also involve other Union Ministries, State and Local Governments, NGOs, students of schools, colleges, and other academic institutions. I am sure that the collective efforts of all the organizations will not only increase the sensitization level of our citizen, but will also bring about substantial improvement in cleanliness and hygiene at our destinations.”
The Tourism Minister informed the meeting that tourism economy in India has been expanding over the years. Except for a fall in 2009 due to the global economic recession, the Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) to India have increased consistently. FTAs in India during 2011 were 6.29 million with a growth rate of 8.9% as compared to the FTAs of 5.78 million during 2010. This growth rate for India is much higher than the growth rate of 4.4% for the world during the same period. The first six months of 2012 too have also witnessed a growth of 7.8 % in FTAs.
Shri Sahai said domestic tourism too has been witnessing continuous growth. The number of domestic tourist visits increased to 740 million in 2010 as compared to 669 million in 2009, showing a growth of 10.7 %. This huge size of domestic tourism helps to sustain the Indian tourism industry even when there is negative growth in international travel. He said “We need to look at the domestic tourism segment more closely. The majority of the domestic travel is for pilgrimages. There is a need to enhance facilities at our major pilgrimage centers which receive a large number of visitors. If the growth of domestic tourism continues to grow at the rate seen in recent years, the number of domestic tourist visits in 2016, i.e. by end of 12th plan, will be 1450 million.”
The Tourism Minister expressed the hope that targeted increase in the FTAs and the domestic tourists visits will take the count of FEE to be Rs.13,4383 Cr (US$ 30.3 BLN), which will result in the additional FEE of Rs. 69494 crore and will add up 77.5 MLN (direct and indirect) jobs in the Tourism Sector. He said “It is important that we maintain the quality of tourism facilities and services offered so that they are at par with the best in the world. We must keep pace with changing trends and requirements of the overseas and domestic travelers, who are increasingly becoming more demanding. We can ill-afford to be satisfied with the growth of the tourism sector seen in the last decade. We have to improve our products, plan carefully, refine our marketing strategies and bolster our efforts for sustainable growth of this vital industry. The fact that India’s share in global tourist arrivals is a meager 0.6% shows that we have a long way to go.”
Shri Sahai said the publicity and media campaign has been placed high on the agenda of the Ministry of Tourism. These campaigns play an important role in giving thrust to the growth of travel and tourism industry in the country. He said “We have recently appointed a creative agency to develop new strategies and campaigns for promoting tourism world-wide. We will develop and launch market specific campaigns in different countries, as India has a wide variety of tourism products to offer to varying categories of travellers.” In order to achieve the target of 1% share in the world tourist arrivals and for developing overseas market in the CIS, ASEAN, Middle East and African countries, Ministry is appointing the India Tourism marketing representative (ITMR) in 14 countries across the world.
Summing up the discussions Shri RH Khwaja, Secretary (Tourism) said that his Ministry has been working in close cooperation with the private sector for development of tourism in India. He expressed the hope that views emerging out of the discussions held today would help the Ministry as well as the hospitality and travel industry to take longer strides in achieving our common goal of positioning tourism as an engine of economic growth.
NTAC is a ‘Think Tank’ constituted by the Government and comprises experts from various fields, representatives of industry associations like CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, PHDCCI, FHRAI, HAI, IATO, TAAI, ITTA, ADTOI, ATOI, IHHA, ICPB as well as Ministries of Finance, Railways,Culture, External Affairs, Urban Development, Road Transport and Highways and Planning Commission and advises the Government on various aspects of tourism with the objective of promoting domestic and foreign tourism in the country.