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Incredible India

Year End Review-2018: Ministry of Tourism

Year End Review-2018: Ministry of Tourism

The Ministry of Tourism is the nodal agency to formulate national policies and programmes for the development and promotion of tourism. In the process, the Ministry consults and collaborates with other stakeholders in the sector including various Central Ministries/ agencies, the State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations and the representatives of the private sector. Tourism is a major engine of economic growth and an important source of foreign exchange earnings in many countries including India. It has a great capacity to create large scale employment of diverse kind – from the most specialized to the unskilled and hence can play a major role in creation of additional employment opportunities. It can also play an important role in achieving growth with equity. It has the main objective of increasing and facilitating tourism in India. Augmenting tourism infrastructure, easing of visa regime, assurance of quality standards in services of tourism service providers, etc. are some of the responsibilities of the Ministry.



  • Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during the period January-November 2018 were 93, 67, 424 as compared to 88, 67, 963 in January-November 2017 registering a growth of 5.6% over the same period.
  • During January- November 2018, a total of 20,61,511 tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 14,56,615 during January- November 2017, registering a growth of 41.5% over the same period.
  • Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) during the period January- October 2018 were Rs. 1,58,846 Crore as compared to Rs. 1,41,965 Crore in January- October 2017 registering a growth of 11.9% over the same period.
  • During 2017, the number of Domestic Tourist Visits to the States/UTs was 1652.5 million as compared to 1615.4 million in 2016 showing growth of 2.3% in 2017 over 2016.


  • Development of tourism infrastructure is being given priority to provide a better tourism experience to the tourists. Theme based circuits are being developed under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme spanning the entire country. A total number of 07 projects have been sanctioned during 2018-19 for a total amount of Rs.384.67 Crore. With this, a total number of 73 projects have been sanctioned till date for an amount of Rs.5873.99 Crore under this Scheme covering 30 States and Union Territories in the country.
  • Nine projects under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme have been inaugurated between August to December 2018 in the States of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Facilities like Tourist Facilitation Centers, Eco Log Huts, Sound and Light Show, Helipads, Cafeteria, Wayside Amenities, Nature Trails, Jetties, Boat club, Adventure Zones, Interpretation Centers, Water Sports, Craft Villages, Tribal Thematic Villages, Illumination etc. have been developed as part of the above projects.
  • Integrated development of identified pilgrimage destinations is being undertaken under the ‘National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) Scheme. One project has been sanctioned during 2018-19 for a total amount of Rs.39.24 Crore. A total number of 24 projects have been sanctioned till date for an amount of Rs.727.16 Crore under this Scheme.
  • Ministry of Tourism provided Central Financial Assistance for infrastructure development during 2018-19 to Cochin Port Trust and Mormugaon Port Trust.


  • Ministry of Tourism in close collaboration with Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) launched “Adopt a Heritage Project” to provide world class tourist facilities at the various natural/cultural heritage sites, monuments and other tourist sites.
  • The project plans to entrust heritage sites/monuments and other tourist sites to private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals for the development of various tourist amenities. MoUs have been signed for developing tourist amenities at the following sites:
  1. Area surrounding Gangotri Temple & Trail to Gaumukh, Uttarakhand
  2. Mt. Stok Kangri Trek, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir
  3. Red Fort, New Delhi
  4. Gandikota Fort, Andhra Pradesh
  5. Surajkund, Haryana
  6. Jantar Mantar, Delhi
  7. Qutub Minar, Delhi
  8. Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra
  9. Leh Palace, Jammu & Kashmir
  10. Hampi (Hazara Rama Temple), Karnataka


  • Ministry of Tourism has identified 17 Sites in 12 Clusters for Development as Iconic Tourist Sites. The names of the sites identified for development as Iconic Tourist Sites are – Taj Mahal, Fathepur Sikri. Ajanta, Ellora, Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Colva Beach, Amer Fort, Somnath, Dholavira, Khajuraho, Hampi, Mahablipuram, Kaziranga, Kumarakom and Mahabodhi Temple. Master Plans are at the final stages of preparation.


  • Ministry of Tourism organized Bharat Parv at Red Fort, Delhi from 26th to 31st January 2018, as part of the Republic Day Celebrations. The prime objective of organizing the event is to generate a patriotic mood, promote the rich cultural diversity of the country, to ensure wider participation of the general public and to popularize the concept of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’, ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ and ‘Tourism for All’. The major attractions at Bharat Parv were Republic Day Tableaux, Cultural Performances, Armed Forces Bands, Food and Craft stalls.


  • Ministry of Tourism in association with Central Ministries, State Governments/Union Territory Administrations etc. celebrated Paryatan Parv, 2018 at National Level. The Parv was celebrated from 16th to 27th September, 2018 during which more than 3200 activities in 32 States/UTs were organized to create awareness about the importance of Tourism.
  • The objective of Paryatan Parv, 2018 was to propagate the message of ‘Dekho Apna Desh’, with the aim to encourage Indians to visit various tourist destinations in the country and also to spread the message of ‘Tourism for All’. State pavilions, craft stalls, food stalls, cultural programmes, cookery demonstrations etc. were major attractions for visitors during the Parv.


  • The First edition of the India Tourism Mart 2018 was organized by the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) with the support of the Ministry of Tourism and State Governments/Union Territory Administrations from 16th to 18th September, 2018 at Hotel Ashok, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. India Tourism Mart provided a platform to different tourism stakeholders for interacting and conducting business with foreign buyers.


  • Ministry of Tourism launched the new Incredible India website on 14th June 2018. The website showcases India as a holistic destination, revolving around major experiences, such as, spirituality, heritage, adventure, culture, yoga, wellness and more. The website follows the trends and technologies of international standards with an aim to project India as a “must-visit” destination. The website has many useful features to make it more interactive and to provide a deeper engagement to the travellers visiting the website.


  • Ministry of Tourism launched an Online Learning Management System for creating skilled manpower to work as tourist facilitators. The initiative will enable the youth living in remotest part of the country to skill themselves and facilitate tourists on Pan India basis. The Online Learning Programme will also lead to creation of jobs and providing facilitators to tourists at reasonable cost. Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification currently has 3800+ enrolment across country.


  • Ministry of Tourism launched Incredible India Mobile App on 27th September, 2018. The Incredible India Mobile App showcases India as a holistic destination, revolving around major experiences, such as spirituality, heritage, adventure, culture, yoga, wellness and more. The mobile app has been designed keeping in mind the preferences of the modern traveler and follows the trends and technologies of international standards. The app has been equipped with features to assist the traveller in each phase of their journey to India.


  • Ministry of Tourism organized the International Buddhist Conclave-2018 (IBC-2018) on the theme “Buddha Path—The Living Heritage” in collaboration with the State Governments of Maharashtra, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The Hon’ble President of India inaugurated the International Buddhist Conclave-2018 (IBC-2018) at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on 23rd August, 2018 at New Delhi. T
  • he event was followed by site visits to Ajanta (Maharashtra), Rajgir, Nalanda & Bodhgaya (Bihar) and Sarnath (Uttar Pradesh). Japan was the ‘Partner Country at IBC-2018. Panel discussion on ‘Role of Living Buddhist Heritage in the Contemporary Society’, B2B meetings between Foreign and Indian Tour Operators, Investors Summit and Presentations by Ministry of Tourism and State Governments were organized as part of the event. During the inaugural session of the Buddhist Conclave, the Ministry of Tourism launched its website and a new 60 second film showcasing the Buddhist sites in the country.


  • Ministry of Tourism released Global Media Campaigns in overseas markets covering leading as well as potential source markets for Indian tourism. The campaigns were released in the electronic, online and print media, with greater focus on digital and social media and on use of thematic creatives to cater to different consumer preferences.
  • 5 Thematic promotional films were produced on Yoga, Wellness, Wildlife, Luxury and Cuisine and these were aired globally on television, social media and online portals. Destination promotional films were also produced on Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.
  • The 5 films and the Land of Buddha Film on social media received over 189 million views. All the films (5 films – Yoga, Cuisine, Wellness, Luxury & Wildlife) have been produced in English with voice – overs in 9 international languages (German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic).
  • The films are also being aired on global television channels/Indian diaspora channels across the world including the language feeds of the channels.
  • Domestic Campaigns were released on different media including television, online portals and websites, outdoor digital, cinema houses, radio, airline boarding passes, railway tickets, etc. to promote the North East Region, Jammu & Kashmir, Swachhta at Tourist Sites, Yoga (to coincide with the International Day of Yoga), Iconic Sites, Statue of Unity as well as events organised by the Ministry like Bharat Parv and Paryatan Parv.
  • Active promotions were undertaken on the Social Media accounts of the Ministry of Tourism. Further, keeping in mind the importance of Social Media as an effective tool for destination branding and marketing, the Ministry organized a Social Media Key Influencers’ Campaign “The Great Indian Blog Train” in February 2018, involving bloggers from across the world, who were invited to travel to destinations in the country on the Luxury Trains operating in different States.  A total of 57 Bloggers from 23 countries including India travelled for a week on four luxury trains, i.e Palace on Wheels, Maharaja Express, Deccan Odyssey and Golden Chariot. The campaign generated widespread publicity for the luxury trains as well as the destination visited, by way of blogs, videos and photos published by the Bloggers on their experiences of their journey.


  • e-Visa has 5sub-categories i.e. e-Tourist visa, e-Business visa, e-Medical visa, e-Medical Attendant visa and e-Conference visa.
  • e-Visa is valid for entry through 26 designated Airports (i.e. Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Calicut, Chennai, Chandigarh, Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Madurai, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum, Varanasi & Vishakhapatnam) and 5 designated seaports (i.e. Cochin, Goa, Mangalore, Mumbai, Chennai).
  • At present the e-Visa Scheme is available to nationals of 166 countries.


  • Ministry of Tourism has introduced the concept of Legacy Vintage Hotels to cover hotels constructed/built with materials from heritage properties/buildings (i.e. properties or buildings which were build/constructed/ erected prior to the year 1950), provided that at least 50% of the material used to construct/build the hotel is sourced from heritage properties or buildings. Such hotels will help recreate the ambience and atmosphere of the bygone era. Such hotels will be classified under 3 sub- categories namely Legacy Vintage (Basic), Legacy Vintage (Classic) and Legacy Vintage (Grand).


  • During 2018-19, a total of 5,759 students of B.Sc. Programme, 121 students of M.Sc. Programme and 3,735 students of Diplomas and Craft Courses in Hospitality and Hotel Administration passed out from Institutes of Hotel Management and Food Craft Institutes affiliated with NCHMCT.


  • During 2018-19, a total of 330 students of MBA in Travel and Tourism Management passed out from the Indian Institute of Travel and Tourism Management.


  • The Indian Culinary Institute (ICI), Noida campus was inaugurated on 27th April, 2018 for starting culinary courses. This is in line with the commitment of creating specialized skilled manpower in the field of hospitality and posturing the research and development in Culinary Arts. The NOIDA campus of ICI will also have a state of the art “Indian Culinary Museum” where the rich historical and diversified culinary objects and other literature will be displayed. This will provide a unique platform for preserving the Indian culinary heritage. The campus and the building of ICI, NOIDA, having a built up area of 2,31,308 square feet, was developed and completed in time and it took 2 years to build it with world class infrastructure facilities.


  • The Indian Culinary Institute (ICI) campus, Tirupati was inaugurated on 24th September 2018. The Culinary Institute at Tirupati is spread in 14 acres of land and the project being completed at a total cost of Rs.97.92 Crore. The ICI Tirupati campus comprises of an academic block with state-of-art kitchens, labs and classrooms; an administrative block; commercial restaurant; culinary museum, executive guesthouse, VIP cottages, hostels for boys and girls and staff residences. The main objective of setting up of the Indian Culinary Institute (ICI) is to institutionalize a mechanism to support efforts intended to preserve, document, promote and disseminate information about Indian Cuisine, meet the sectoral requirement of specialists specific to Indian Cuisine, as also to promote ‘Cuisine’ as a Niche Tourism product.


  • Ministry of Tourism observed ‘Swachhta Hi Sewa’ Campaign from 15th September, 2018 to 2nd October, 2018. Cleanliness activities were undertaken at various tourism sites across the country with active participation from local communities, stakeholders, regional offices of India tourism under the Ministry of Tourism and the State/UT Governments. Ministry of Tourism also celebrated ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’ on daily basis from 16th to 30th September, 2018. As part of this, activities were undertaken by the officials of the Ministry of Tourism, Institutes of Hotel Management and Institutes of Tourism & Travel Management at different sites/locations across the country. National level quiz and Essay competition on ‘Swachhta’ was organized for the students of Institute of Hotel Management (IHMs) and prizes were given away to the winners. Ministry of Tourism has undertaken the Swachhta Action Plan (SAP) for the year 2018-19 implemented by Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM) at 180 sites /places (540 activities) in selected 29 States/UTs all over the Country. The SAP activities involve awareness on cleanliness amongst tourists, school/college students and tourism stakeholders. These activities under SAP are also undertaken by Central and State IHMs across the country.



Chartering roadmap towards sustainable Tourism

World Tourism Day- International Year of Sustainable Tourism 2017

*Pandurang Hegde  i201792609.jpg

The arrival of foreign tourists in the country has increased from 6.8 per cent in 2016 to 16.5 per cent in January 2017. Similarly, the domestic tourist arrivals in 2017 increased 15.5 per cent over 2015. Obviously, these rise in tourist arrivals of both domestic and foreign tourist indicate the success of the tourism policies implemented by NDA government since 2014.

The major factor for increase in arrival of foreign tourist is the policy of introduction of online visa facility that has been extended to more than 180 countries. The reforms of extending e-visa facility for medical and business travellers, and increasing the time period of stay form 30 to 60 days has attracted foreign tourists who are keen to visit India.

The launching of e-ticketing of historical monuments like Taj Mahal, introduction of dedicated tourist trains across India and 24×7 tourist help line has had positive impact on the arrivals of tourists from foreign countries.

In the period from 2015 to 2017, the foreign exchange earnings from tourism has shown an increase of 13 per cent, from 12000 crores to Rs 13669 crores.

Tourism sector has enormous potential to grow and contribute towards higher GDP. It provides employment to 39.5 million people working in hospitality industry. Realizing this potential, the Finance Minister Sh. Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech of the year 2017-18, proposed to set-up Five Special Tourism Zone, anchored on SPVs in partnership with the States. The Finance Minister underlined the fact that Tourism is a big employment generator and has a multiplier impact on the economy. The Minister also announced the launching of Incredible India 2.0 campaign across the world during the year.


The Prime Minister has also made earnest attempt to broadcast the diversity of India through social media and showcasing them to the world. He has also spoken about the cultural diversity and spiritual affinity to tap the potential of country’s spiritual legacy. The Prime Minister has approved liberalizing of this sector permitting 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment in hospitality industry to create basic infrastructure across the country.

Travel and tourism is one of the key sectors that receive special support from the Central Government. The government of India launched several schemes to attract tourists. The Swacch Bharat Abhiyan is the fulcrum under which the tourist destinations are kept clean, like renovation of river ghats in piligrim cities like Varanasi. The slogan of “Swaach Bharat Swaach Smarak” given by the Prime Minister indicates the need to keep the heritage sites clean.

Adarsh Smaarak in an innovative scheme launched by Archaeological Survey of India to promote basic tourist facilities in well-known historical sites.

Swadesh Darshan is an important scheme of the Ministry of Tourism. The scheme is based on the vision to develop theme-based tourist circuits on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability by synergizing efforts to focus on needs and concerns of all stakeholders. Under the scheme, 13 thematic circuits have been identified across the country for development.

Under PRASAD Scheme, 25 sites of religious significance have been identified for development in India namely Amravati (Andhra Pradesh), Amritsar (Punjab), Ajmer (Rajasthan), Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), Badrinath (Uttarakhand), Dwarka (Gujarat), Deogarh  (Jharkhand), Belur (West Bengal), Gaya (Bihar), Guruvayoor (Kerala), Hazratbal (Jammu & Kashmir), Kamakhya (Assam), Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu), Katra (jammu & Kashmir), Kedarnath (Uttarakhand), Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), Patna (Bihar), Puri (Odisha), Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh), Somnathh (Gujarat), Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), Trimbakeshwar (Maharashtra), Omkareshwar (Madhya Pradesh), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) and Vellankani (Tamil Nadu).

Sustainable Tourism – a tool for Development

Tourism is the third largest export industry in the world, with 1.235 million travelers crossing international borders. The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism. It has called for an approach to tourism based on inclusive economic growth, bringing decent jobs to local communities, preservation of environment, addressing climate change and respecting the unique cultural identity of the people.


Thus, tourism development provides unique opportunity to promote better future for people, planet and prosperity. The motto of the 2017 World Tourism Day is the respect nature, culture and respects the host.

The Government is in the process of formulating a new National Tourism Policy (NTP). The salient features of NTP are developing tourism in sustainable and responsible manner, employment generation and community participation.

It aims at promotion of diverse tourism opportunities including showcasing of rich culture and heritage of the country and the niche products as Medical and Wellness tourism. It also emphasizes on skill development and enabling environment for investment in tourism related infrastructure. It also aims at promoting domestic and foreign tourist destinations to experience the diversity of the country.

The Ministry of Tourism has adopted code of conduct for safe tourism, containing safe guidelines for both tourists and local residents that assure basic human rights, freedom from exploitation of women and children.

There are some bottlenecks in implementing the sustainable tourism goals due to the lack of basic infrastructure like roads and providing clean, comfortable accommodation to tourists. In order to address these issues the government is upgrading passenger terminals, improving connectivity to tourist destinations, providing safe drinking water and establishing communication networks in tourist areas to facilitate tourists.

India with her cultural, spiritual and natural richness offers unique experience unparalleled by any other country in the world. Diverse traditions, life styles, colorful fairs and festivals offer a vase variety of choice for the domestic and foreign tourists.

Indian government is not only aware of how to use the tourism sector as a tool to achieve sustainable development goals, but it is committed to bring and share the benefit of travel and tourism equitably with the local communities. The forests, tribal lifestyles, beautiful coastline and beaches, wild life sanctuaries and national parks provides rare opportunity to the visitors, compelling them to revisit the country to experience this diversity.

The Minister of State (IC) for Tourism K. J. Alphons has said “We must spread the word about India’s heritage, philosophy, and it’s incredibly diverse cultures which are worth experiencing.”

The enabling environment being created by the Government of India towards making the country tourist friendly is definitely chartering a roadmap towards attaining sustainable tourism, the major goal of International Year of Sustainable Tourism.


*The author is an independent journalist and columnist based in Karnataka.


Swift Surge Forward in Tourism sector

i201782801 *O P Sharma

Alongside rapid strides on other spheres, the Tourism sector in India now is surging forward; swiftly and surely. Gradually, our country with rich cultural heritage, dotted with many spots with nature’s bounty and charms, sublime environs and numerous other attractions, pilgrimage places depicted as “Incredible India” is gaining popularity for its destinations. Tourist traffic is attaining new heights with this sector in top gear and still moving ahead to gradually to tap its vast potential. Our nation is carving out its due share and status in the global tourism industry.


Tourisma pivotal sector as a driver of social integration and economic development, is growing at impressive pace in recent years. Domestic travels for pilgrimages, business and varied other factors, is as old as our society.  While there were just 17, 000 inbound tourists on the eve of our Independence, presently the figure for tourist traffic has shot up very significantly. But keeping in view the high potential, there is more scope for giving further boost to India’s tourism industry. Due to some tangible bold initiatives and promotional schemes taken by the present regime, this sector will certainly go up carving out its due share in the global tourism and travel sphere.

Tsomgo Lake Sikkim JPEG

Ever since achievement of Independence, keeping in view the vital importance of tourism, concrete policies and elaborate plans have been implemented in a phased manner with the result that steadily there has been growth and development in tourist trade. More sustained endeavors are required to secure larger share in global tour and travel sectors.


Latest figures indicate that tourism generated 14.02 lakh crore (US$220 billion) or 9.6 per cent of the nation’s GDP in 2016 and supported 40.343 million jobs, which is 9.3 per cent of its total employment. This sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 6.8 per cent to 28.49 lakh crore (US$440 billion) by 2027, which is 10 per cent of our GDP. To quote an instance, India’s medical tourism estimated to be worth US$3 billion, which is projected to grow further to $7–8 billion by 2020.  It is pertinent to point out that in 2014 nearly 184, 300 foreign patients traveled to India to for medical treatment. About 88.90 lakh foreign tourists arrived in India in 2016 as compared to 80.27 lakh during the previous year, recording a growth of 10.7 per cent. Domestic tourist visitors numbered nearly 1,036.35 million in 2012, an increase of 16.5 per cent from 2011. Pilgrim-tourism too is registering ever-increasing numbers every year. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has underscored need for involvement of youth power in projection and promotion of tourism industry.


As per the report of World Economic Forum on global travel and tourism, India ranks 40th out of 136 nations across the globe.  Now with the present Government’s emphasis on improvement of roads network, high-speed railway and air services, higher hotel accommodation, business opportunities, cashless payment system, clean environ and liberalized visa system and suitable human resources, the tourist traffic is expected to further grow up swiftly.

The Union Ministry of Tourism and all the States have to work as partners for working on suitably- designed national policies and plans for sustained growth of tourism. Visa policy has been rightly liberalized and vigorous world-wide campaign of “Incredible India” is yielding encouraging results. It is envisaged to give a further fillip to tourism sector and upgrade India’s status in the global tourist traffic. E-tourist visa facility extended to over 150 countries and UDAN scheme among others, will go a long way in promoting domestic and foreign tourism.


There are well-designed tour packages and tourist-cum-pilgrim-circuits to suit all sorts of visitors. The Indian tourism and hospitality industry is key driver of growth among the services sector. Tourism is also a potentially large employment generator besides being a significant source of foreign exchange for the country. Every citizen has to abide by spirit of “Aatithi Devo Bhave” (every tourist is our honoured guest) and act as voluntary ambassador of tourism to attract more tourists.

India’s rising middle class and increasing disposable incomes has continued to support the growth of domestic and outbound tourism. Domestic Tourist Visits (DTVs) has grown by 15.5 per cent year-on-year to nearly 1.65 billion during 2016. Foreign visitors have significantly gone up and India’s foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) have through tourism increased by 32 per cent and touched US$ 2.278 billion in April, 2017.India is expected to move up five spots to be ranked among the top five business travel market globally by 2030, as business travel spending in the country is expected to treble until 2030 from US$ 30 billion in 2015. Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTA) in India have witnessed an impressive growth in the last three years. During April, 2017, it stood at 7.40 lakh compared to 5.99 lakh in April 2016 and 5.42 lakh in April 2015. There has been a significant rise in Non-Residential Indians (NRI) travelling to India as well.


In the Union Budget 2017-18, more initiatives have been taken to give a boost to the tourism and hospitality sector by setting up five special tourism zones, special pilgrimage or tourism trains and worldwide launch of Incredible India campaign among others.

The Union Tourism Ministry and State Governments, Private sector, NGOs and each citizen must jointly put in their best to realize the country’s full tourism potential and take lot of more innovative initiatives to make India a global tourism hub.


The concerted and innovative initiatives will certainly give further impetus to both domestic and foreign tourism to realize India’s full potential for positive results to emerge as a major player in the world tourism industry.



*Author is a Jammu-based free-lance journalist. Views expressed in the article are author’s personal.

Incredible India- Poised to become World’s Tourist Hub

*Malayinkil Gopalakrishnan* i20178304.jpg

“The one land that all men desire to see and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give the glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined”: Mark Twain on India.

The usage ‘Incredible India‘ brings to mind a plethora of unique images–ranging from the snow-capped mountains of Himalayas in the north, unsparing expanses of deserts of the west, tropical rainforests and exotic flora of the east and panoramic lakes, beaches and monsoon rains of the south; besides this, a range of historic, cultural and heritage sites, the torch bearers of the diversity of a country which boasts of centuries-old legacy.

This mixed bag of experiences makes India ‘incredible’ and a paradise which is much sought after by global tourists. While many other countries offer one or other monolithic experience of holidaying for a tourist, India opens the portals to diversified experiences of climate, geography, culture, art, literature, ethnicity and food.

And the government’s various plans to market our incredible legacy, heritage and nature seems to have achieved its results. The increased footfall of foreign tourists and revenue growth in terms of Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) is a clear proof for that.


An inclusive and sustainable growth of economy and revenue, employment generation, foreign investment and fostering of cultural ties are some of the objectives the government is targeting to achieve through its new tourism policies and programmes.

The Evolution of Tourism in India

India has been an attraction for foreign travelers, tourists and traders since centuries ago. The sub-continent’s constant contact with other countries, civilisations and people are very much evident in our cultural diversity indicators including language, customs, festivities, music, dance, art and so on.

However, the tourism sector did not get much attention in the initial years after Independence as tourism those days could not be perceived as a huge revenue earning industry.

One of the first significant episodes in the history of Indian tourism was the formation of the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), in 1966. The core objective for its establishment was to develop tourist infrastructure and services. Similar organizations were set up in the states also.

The tourism activities and policy initiatives in the sector got a real momentum in the country after 1980s. It was in 1982, thirty five years after independence, that a National Policy on Tourism was announced in India for the first time. The country’s plans of hosting Asian Games in this year and the prospective arrival and accommodation and entertainment of large number of people from outside had triggered serious debates on tourism in the country. This general interest and debates on tourism had been translated into the first National Policy on Tourism which provided an action plan for the development of the sector.

India’s changed global image- from a land of slums and poverty to a developing country and emerging economic super power- accelerated the inflow of foreign tourists to the country in the later decades.

During NDA’s first term, the Government of India came out with a new Tourism Policy in 2002 with the objective of “positioning tourism as a major engine of economic growth and to harness its direct and multiplier effects for employment and poverty eradication in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The Incredible India

The soul of ‘incredible India’ lies in its unity in diversity. India offers variety of experience to travelers at one go as each part of the country gives them identifiable difference from the rest of the nation.


The northern part of the country may offer them mountain experience to the core from gigantic peaks to snow-covered valleys while the sprawling coastlines of the south may give a breathtaking contrast experience of beaches, lakes and riversides.

The Andaman and Nicobar islands or the Lakshadweep archipelago offer a unique experience of marine life and pristine beauty of islands. Participation in ‘Kumbha mela’, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, may give a rare glimpse and first-hand experience on the centuries-old religious tradition of the country.

Annual literary festivals, held across the length and breadth of the country, offer a clear picture of the art and literary tradition.

Thus, exotic destinations, rustic country sides, vibrant festivities, harmonious co-existence of different faiths, colourful attires and ethnic cuisines make India a wondrous land for a global holidayer.

New policies and programmes

The experience of diversity, economical holiday destinations, special brand images of places and private and foreign investments have also contributed to the growth of tourist inflow from other countries into India.


The introduction of ‘Niche Tourism Products’ to expand and diversify the tourism prospects and make the country a 365 days destination has given an impetus to the increased inflow. Eco & Wildlife Tourism, MICE Tourism (MICE – Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events), Sustainable Tourism, Cruise Tourism, Golf Tourism, Polo Tourism, Medical Tourism and Wellness Tourism are some among such niche products.

The introduction of ‘Visa on Arrival’ (VoA) and ‘e-Tourist Visa’ have also accelerated the Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs). According to official figures, the number of FTAs in May, 2017 was 6.30 lakh as compared to FTAs of 5.27 lakh in May, 2016 and 5.09 lakh in May, 2015. The Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) during the period January- May 2017 were Rs. 74,008 crore with a growth of 19.2%.

The government’s focus on new areas like spiritual tourism and pilgrimage tourism is also expected to tap the potential of the sector further and increase the inflow of visitors. The Government has also launched the scheme Swadesh Darshan with a view to develop circuits having tourist potential in a planned and prioritized manner. Swadesh Darshan aims at promoting cultural and heritage values of the country.

With the increasing clout of the country as it is poised to become an economic superpower of the world, it is hoped that India is visited by more and more people in the years to come.


* Author is a senior journalist, columnist and editor of a history web portal. He served as the News Editor of Mathrubhumi Daily.

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