Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tourism Development in India


Introduction

“Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of economic activity” (WTO, 2005). The number of international arrivals shows increasing trend from mere 25 million in 1950 to an estimated 846 million in 2006, corresponding to an average annual growth of 5.4 % (WTO, 2005).

“India is a fascinating country for tourists, with a variegated and rich cultural heritage, religious centres, natural spots, adventure sports, captivating fairs and festivals” (Batra and Kaur, 1996). The major aim of the paper is to highlight the development problems country is facing and would suggest a few strategic recommendations to avoid these hindrances in near future.

Historical, Political and Economic Background

India achieved freedom on 15th August 1947 from British rule. Politically speaking, India is the biggest complete democracy in the world and runs similar system of the parliament having Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Main political parties include Congress party, Bhartiya Janta party and Communist Party of India-Marxist (U.S. Department of State, 2007). The centre politics is run by the ‘Prime Minister’ who is the head of the ruling party. Economically speaking, India is considered to be one of the fastest growing economies after China in the world with the biggest consumer market (Srinivasan, 2006). India is also known as one of the largest manufacturer of the software products and exporting goods. Agriculture has always played a pivotal role in the economic development.

Problem Identification

Although, India is growing politically and economically at a fast pace but there are lots of problems which affect tourism development such as:

1) Terrorism: According to Sahni A, 2001 Lashkar-e-toiba, Jaish-e-mohammad and Hiz-bul-mujahiddeen are three major Islamic terrorist groups, headquartered in Pakistan but have intruded in India.
2) Lack of education and medical treatment (the situation is more sever in rural areas).
3) Increasing environmental problems (pollutants emitted by vehicles and industrial waste).
4) Poverty and hunger (see appendix 1).
5) Unequal distribution of income within the earning society.

People who have responsibilities in Indian tourism industry believe that the major problems faced by them are specifically discussed as:
1) Lack of infrastructure (which includes inadequate air capacity and poor transportation which makes accessibility to tourist destinations difficult).
2) Unavailability of cheaper land.
3) Insufficient trained people in catering (lack of training institutes where expertise is born)
4) Touting and harassment incidents leading to poor visitor experiences (see appendix 2)
5) Un-hygienic conditions and poor maintenance of historical monuments and tourists’ destinations.
6) Natural disasters and changing weather conditions across the globe (see appendix 3).

Despite of these problems, tourism has been playing an important role in the economic and overall development of India. India has an average annual growth of 2.7 % in international arrivals and 5.8 % increase in international tourism receipts.

Tourism Policies

Since India achieves independence, the Five Years Plans (see appendix 4) are catering for India’s growth in different sectors including Tourism. During the 2nd and 3rd five-year-plans, Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and Tourism Finance Corporation established by the government of India add another feather to tourism industry in 1966. Upon realizing the importance in the 6th plan (1980), the Central government of India formulated the “National Policy on Tourism” in 1982. Six years later, “National Committee on Tourism” was established to comprehensively develop a steady but fast pace growth in tourism. Altogether 21 National Council for Hotel Management (NCHM) and 14 Food and Craft Institutes (FCI) came up to provide special training in hotel and catering seekers (Sinha, 2000).

The success of tourism objectives and policies can be judged by increasing facts and figures of Indian tourism industry. Foreign exchange earning has gone up by 81% within 5 years since 2000. According to Sinha (2000), domestic tourism has gone up from $64 million in 1990 to $167 million in 1998. Domestic tourism is on the rise with 390 million showing 13% growth in number of trips in 2005.

Recommendations

The recommendations part would highlight responsibilities shared by Indian government and private owners of hotels and tourists spots to promote Indian tourism industry. Some important concerns in the coming future are discussed as follows:
1) Providing better infrastructure in air seating capacity, cheaper accommodation and proper transportation.
2) Promoting heritage tourism by highlighting heritage hotels and historical monuments, developing beaches, water and ice sports, wild life sanctuaries, etc. to promote adventure tourism.
3) Medical tourism is concerned with attracting tourists from those countries where medical treatment is very expensive or of poor quality. India’s attempt to attract foreign tourists with medical needs started in late 2002, for the treatment in India is cheaper and of good quality compared to other developing and developed countries. (Goswami and Chinai, 2007).

Tourism department of India has started taking actions on the above mentioned areas but there is still a need to promote specific areas.

1) Education Tourism attracts students from other countries. Although, there has been a positive response from the neighbouring countries (Pakistan, China, Nepal and Malaysia) but a lot can be done to fascinate students from developed countries (Europe, UK, USA) within certain specified courses where India has edge over them.
2) Social Tourism can be defined as “the relationships and phenomena in the field of tourism resulting from participation in travel by economically weak or otherwise disadvantaged elements of society” (Hall, 2005). In India, it is basically concerned with socialists from other developed countries visiting and helping poor people to have a better standard of living and more meaningful fun-filled life.

Hence, the tourism board needs to bring the above mentioned agendas under there consideration while formulating tourism policies.

Conclusion

Indian tourism has been facing the problem of not getting the effective number of foreign tourists despite extensive marketing efforts. The term ‘India’ is not sending the correct signals to travel enthusiasts across the globe. In spite of upward trend in tourist’s arrivals following the ‘Incredible India’ campaign (Ministry of Tourism, 2006) still India is not preferred as destination image by large number of tourists all over the world. As per the tourism plans discussed above, India is trying to change their general socio-economic tourism to macro-economic levels. Firstly, India few decades ago had a general idea about tourism, which was established further with formation of specialised organizations and later financial institutes supporting tourism. The tourism management is becoming more systematic now. The government needs to make policies comprising of medical, education social tourism and merge with private companies to work towards the common endeavor of achieving tourism development in India.


References

Ayers, R (2000) Tourism as part to development in small states: reflections on Cyprus, International Journal of Social Economic, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp.114-133.

Batra, G.S. and Kaur, N. (1996) New vistas in reducing the conflicts between tourism and the environment: an environmental audit approach, Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 3-10.

Chinai, R and Goswami, R (2007) Medical visas mark growth of Indian medical tourism, URL: http://www.scielosp.org/scielo.php?pid=S0042-96862007000300004 and script=sci_arttext. [Accessed on 20th October, 2007]

Euromonitor International, (2007) URL: http://www.euromonitor.com/travel-and-tourism-in-india [Accessed on 12th October, 2007]

Hall, C.M. (2005). Governance and state intervention, Tourism: rethinking the social science of mobility, Pearson Education, pp. 152.

Ministry of Tourism (2006) Incredible India Campaign, URL: http://www.incredibleindia.org [Accessed on 23rd October, 2007].

Sahni, A (2001) Major terrorist groups operating in India, URL: http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/ajaisahni/Pink161101.htm [Accessed on 20th October, 2007]

Sinha, A. (2000) Tourism development in India, URL: http://www.pib.nic.in/feature/feyr2000/fmay2000/f080520001.html [Accessed on 12th October, 2007]

Srinivasan, T. N. (2006) China, India and World Economy, Stanford Centre for International Development, Stanford University, Working paper No. 286

U.S. Department of State (2007) Background Note: India, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, URL: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3454.htm [Accessed on 21st October, 2007]

Appendices:

1) India has got indexes of 25.73% in 1997 and 25.73% in 2003, which is ranked 96, and is currently ranked 94th, according to the global hunger index 2007.

2) On 12th July 2007, a British couple was mobbed by three youths of Kolkata and was annoyed by the non serious attitude of the police officials. They registered the complaint only after being threatened of going to the higher authorities (Headlines india.com, 2007).

3) Natural disasters: Firstly, when Gujarat was affected by earthquake in January 2001, 13,800 people were killed and 167,000 were injured. Thousands of houses, schools, markets and administrative buildings crumbled (World Bank, 2007). Secondly, all the countries located around the Bay of Bengal were hit by tsunami waves on 26th December 2004 and the states which were severely affected by tsunami in India were Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry and Andaman and Nicober islands. The total population affected due to tsunami was 3,415,000 (Mohanty, 2004).

4) The process of planned economic development started with the launch of first Five year plan in April 1951.The main aims of planning in India are growth, mordernisation, self-reliance and social justice (Surry, 2006). Since 1951, India has completed tenth five year plan (2002-2007) and eleventh five year plan is underway.

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