Focusing on new strategies to develop, enhance and expand tourism in India, Hospitality News, ET HospitalityWorld

Amrit Yatra in Amrit Kal: focus on new strategies to develop, enhance and expand tourism in India

by G. Kamala Vardhana Rao

Time to reinvent

Echoing the vibrant message of the esteemed Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, Sri Sadhguru outlined and reaffirmed the deep spiritual roots of our great civilization during his interaction with the state tourism ministers at their recently concluded conference in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. Speaking at the conference, Anand Mahendra stressed the role that the private sector should play in boosting tourism, while Kapil Dev voiced the ideas of the athletes driving the marketing of Indian tourism globally.

After the Covid-induced shutdown, key tourism indicators such as domestic air passenger traffic, hotel occupancy, and tourist footfall are starting to recover to pre-pandemic levels. The period of lull was an opportunity to rethink and reinvent. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has formulated the National Tourism Policy with a comprehensive vision to revitalize the tourism industry in India. The new tourism policy project talks about introducing structural changes towards the effective implementation of policies and projects that include, among others, the formation of the National Tourism Council.

The three most important drivers of the Indian economy are trade, tourism and technology. Aiming to reach US$1 trillion during Amrit Yatra through 2047, the Ministry of Tourism is using a “whole government” approach by engaging with other central ministries, agencies, state governments, union territory administrations, private sector representatives and stakeholders.

The various central ministries are taking concrete steps to expand the country’s tourism potential and comprehensively promote the tourism sector.

Travel and Transportation Infrastructure
India has air penetration of 433 routes operating from 70 airports under UDAN, with a domestic airport of 7.25 lakhs and an international turnout of approximately 1.58 lakhs. The Ministry of Civil Aviation is targeting 100 airports under UDAN by 2024, a move to improve connectivity with additional tourist destinations. Travel and tourism in the country is expected to grow at around 14 per cent annually until 2029. The government has allocated INR 2,400 crore in 2023 to drive infrastructure development which includes the development of coastal and heritage districts along the lines of Swadesh Darshan.

India already has an existing road network that spans 54,24,474 kilometres. The Department of Road Transport and Highways has adopted an additional network of 27 Greenfield lanes covering approximately 10,000 km to enhance last mile connectivity to tourist and religious places at a cost of INR 4.5 crore. 190 Bharat Gaurav trains are scheduled to be launched by FY23. 28 seaplane routes and 14 water aerodromes will be developed in 6 states. Ropeway projects are being implemented under Parvatmala Pariyojana while roadside amenities and multimodal transportation projects enhance the allied infrastructure on site.

Medical Value Travel (MVT)
India ranks first in the field of international medical tourism. With complex surgical procedures performed in institutions of international standard by renowned medical specialists, and at much lower costs than in other countries, India’s cutting-edge healthcare system is on par with the best in the world.

By 2026, the MVT market in India, which is currently valued at $5-6 billion, is expected to reach $13 billion. India ranks 10th in the Medical Tourism Index (MTI) for 2020-21 by the Medical Tourism Association, 12th among the top 20 medical tourism markets worldwide, and 5th among the Asia Pacific (APAC) medical tourism markets.

With the Medical Value Travel Council of India already in place, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare envisages a statewide board and executive committee with a mandate to maintain quality standards, develop a concrete action plan, incorporate best practices and a robust grievance redress mechanism.

Earlier this year, to boost the growing popularity of Yoga and Ayurveda, the Honorable Prime Minister announced the new AYUSH visa category for foreign nationals wishing to visit India to benefit from traditional medicine.

Wildlife and ecotourism
Ecotourism is widely recognized as an effective tool for protecting forests, wildlife, biodiversity and beautiful landscapes, while according to the traveler a unique experience. After the pandemic, there will be a trend away from mass tourism and an increased focus on ecotourism, adventure tourism, wildlife and nature.

Recently, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi released cheetahs that were relocated from Namibia into Kono National Park, Madhya Pradesh to revitalize and diversify India’s wildlife and habitat. Project Cheetah, the first major transcontinental transcontinental transport of wild carnivores, is reintroducing cheetahs to India after their extinction in the country in 1952. The project includes environmental protection and wildlife conservation, while also enhancing livelihood opportunities for the local community through ecology- Development activities and ecotourism.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests issued guidelines for sustainable ecotourism in 2021 with the aim of ensuring a low impact of tourism in fragile biodiversity hotspots and around tiger reserves and marine protected areas. Although India has only 2.4 percent of the world’s land area, it has 4 of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots and a large network of 900 protected areas including 25 marine protected areas along 7,500 km of coastline. These guidelines include promoting employment opportunities for local stakeholders, ensuring sustainable development and placing India on the map of global wildlife and ecotourism.

border tourism
The Vibrant Villages Program (VVP) was announced in the Finance Minister’s 2022 budget letter, which focuses on developing frontier villages by providing adequate infrastructure, employment and healthcare facilities. Tourism is a key sector that will create local jobs in these remote areas. The Ministry of Tourism is also providing financial assistance for developing tourism infrastructure under master plans including Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD, building jetties along the inland waterways of the NER, conducting webinars and hospitality tours, organizing ice and snow events, and coordinating with relevant stakeholders , thus boosting economic activity in the region.

Film tourism
The films create demand to attract tourists on filming locations, while also offering a peek into the unique culture and prospects of a city or country. More than 1,200 films in multiple languages ​​are produced every year by the Indian film industry and the sector is expanding, being pegged at INR 183 billion in 2020. The Ministry of Tourism focuses on promoting film tourism and enables countries to put in place appropriate policies to facilitate obtaining filming permits Using single window permits for film projects. At the same time, meetings with ambassadors provide the insight needed to resolve the bottlenecks foreign filmmakers face while filming in India. The National Tourism Awards also include the “Most Film Tourism-Friendly Country” category.

Tourism development in Northeast India
The Northeast District (NER) offers a wide range of attractions for all types of visitors. The area is home to many hills, valleys, scenic rivers, and other natural wonders that provide travelers with stunning views and camping sites. In the first phase, the Ministry of Tourism penalized INR 49 crore to develop 21 NNI views as tourism places and attractions in suitable landscapes to serve as service stations and information centers for visitors. These perspectives will enhance the livelihood opportunities of rural families, providing them with a platform to advertise and sell local crafts and cuisine.

Yufa (Youth) Tourism
The Ministry of Tourism establishes tourism clubs that include schools, colleges and working age groups. Traveling to new locations introduces young minds to the country’s tourism and cultural heritage, encourages family travel, and increases public footfall, while coverage from digitally active youth will boost tourism through social media. Participation in tourism clubs is also expected to facilitate the development of soft skills such as teamwork, management and leadership as well as encourage the adoption of responsible tourism practices and an interest in sustainable tourism. The YUVA Club Guide to Schools was distributed in April of this year, urging schools to form these clubs.

Dharamsala Announcement 2022
At the recently concluded National Conference of State Tourism Ministers in Dharamsala, India confirmed its plans towards positioning the country as a major tourism destination during the upcoming G20 presidency 2023.

Two-segment targets have been proposed.

  • 18-month targets for 2024 for India’s tourism sector to recover to pre-pandemic levels.
  • The 2030 target estimates that India will grow at 7-9 percent compound annual growth rate in the next decade, with the tourism sector making a quantum leap in GDP contribution, job generation and foreign exchange earning.

The commitment of the Government of India to build advanced India in Amrit Kal with a focus on development towards the centenary of India’s independence in 2047. “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, and Sabka Prayas”. Embracing the same commitment, the initiatives and focus of the Ministry of Tourism are multidimensional and multifaceted. Prioritizing the growth of sustainable and responsible tourism, India is set to showcase the multifaceted capabilities of amazing india the world during the upcoming presidency of the G-20 and beyond.

With all the promising initiatives, the tourism sector is well prepared to brand its journey as “Amrit Yetra in Amrit Kal.

The author is the Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of Iraq and the Managing Director of ITDC.

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