CAN TOURISM BE THE OUTLIER FOR A ‘NEW INDIA’?
Tourism and Travel Industry Hails FICCI's Great Indian Travel Bazaar for Successfully Completing a Decade
It was 2012, when I had my first tryst with the Great Indian Travel Bazaar (GITB), FICCI's annual flagship tourism event, which celebrated its decade-long journey in Jaipur this year in April. I distinctly recall witnessing a great milieu at The Lalit, Jaipur, with foreign tour operators and Indian sellers pouring in large numbers from India and the world for the inaugural of the GITB. That buzz and tremendous response for GITB, which had held me captivated then, encoring year after year, resonating the phenomenal growth of the tourism industry, continues this year too.
Foreign tourist inflow in India last year grew by 15.6 per cent and receipts grew by 20.2 per cent. Our targets are very high, and we want to double the tourist inflow and receipts in three years. KJ Alphons Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism
Conceptualized under the leadership of Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje organized by the Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), GITB came into existence in 2008. The foreign tourist arrival (FTAs) stood at 5 million in 2007, and GITB was established as the need was felt to strongly and urgently promote inbound tourism and today is a platform not only for big players in the tourism sector but for the smaller hoteliers and tour operators as well. The event, over the years, has gained support of leading national and regional associations.
Replicating success and growing from strength to strength each year, GITB has proved that India's tourism sector has bucked global economic headwinds to remain on a steady growth trajectory for over a decade. After the historic jump to the 40th position in the WEF (World Economic Forum) Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017, India crossed the 10 million-mark in FTAs for the first time in 2017. Latest reports by the World Travel & Tourism Council rank India's Travel & Tourism sector 7th in the world in terms of its total contribution to the country's GDP, generating USD 234.0 billion and 41.6 million jobs in 2017.
Says, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism, Government of India, KJ Alphons, 'Foreign tourist inflow in India last year grew by 15.6 per cent and receipts grew by 20.2 per cent. Our targets are very high, and we want to double the tourist inflow and receipts in three years.' It is possible to achieve the target as India has a lot of potential and a 5,000-year-old history, which no other country in the world has, he added.
Over the past two decades, tourism has emerged as one of the sunrise sectors of our economy, demonstrating the potential to be a strong socio-economic enabler, fostering models for sustainable, inclusive growth. As per WTTC 2018 (World Travel & Tourism Council) report, travel and tourism contributed 9.4 per cent to the country's GDP and accounted for 8.0 per cent of the total jobs in 2017. Further, Travel & Tourism investment in 2017 stood at USD41.6 billion, 6.3 per cent of total investments. It is projected to rise by 6.7 per cent in 2018 and rise by 6.7 per cent pa over
the next ten years to USD85.2 billion in 2028, 6.1 per cent of total.
The tourism sector has enormous potential to lead the socio-economic transformation of 'New India'. Primarily driven by remarkable natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and unique traditional values, the sector has witnessed exponential growth in niche sub-sectors such as MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), medical and wellness, adventure, sports, amongst others. India's pricecompetitive offerings, simplified evisa and immigration procedures and increasing disposable income will further contribute significantly towards boosting inbound tourism in India.
The Government of India realizes the potential of tourism industry, which is evident from the fact that the Ministry of Tourism has undertaken a slew of initiatives such as extending e-tourist visas to 163 countries, releasing M-Visas, launch of marketing initiatives like Incredible India 2.0, Swachh Paryatan Mobile app, 24*7 Multilingual Tourist Helpline among others that have fuelled impressive tourism growth.
Alluding to the effective marketing strategies of the Government of Rajasthan, Raje says, '“Jaane Kya Dikh Jaaye”, Rajasthan's campaign to promote tourism in the state, conceptualized four years ago, became an instant hit with the audience and enjoyed a recall value like never before. The idea was to revamp the campaign after every two years but then it grabbed the imagination of people within the country and outside.'
Reiterating Raje's stance, Subodh Agarwal, Additional Chief Secretary – Tourism, Art & Culture; Forest & Environment, Government of Rajasthan, adds, 'Our digital presence and the use of social media platform have been phenomenal. We have the highest number of followers on Instagram compared to other states and we have outpaced others on Facebook and Twitter in terms of growth. As a result of the innovation and sustained media campaign Rajasthan has recorded a healthy growth of 17.31 per cent in the tourist arrival in 2016. Same trend continued in 2017 with 10.5 per cent growth and the forecast for the first three months is similar.'
From an economic point of view, Indian tourism sector is a significant source of foreign exchange and an important source of employment, especially as it helps local and host communities. India's diverse product offerings attracted nearly 10.17 million foreign tourists in 2017 against 8.80 million in 2016, a growth of 15.6 per cent. Travel and tourism investment in 2017 stood at USD41.6 billion, 6.3 per cent of total investment. It is projected to rise by 6.7 per cent in 2018, and by 6.7 per cent pa over the next 10 years to USD85.2 billion in 2028, 6.1 per cent of total.
Rashmi Verma, Secretary – Tourism, Government of India, underlines, 'For the first time, we crossed the double digits and received about 10.2 million foreign tourists in our country. The prime minister has declared 2019 as the tourism cooperation year for the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. The liberalization of the visa policy, introduction of e-visa for about 163 countries has been a game changer. This has facilitates many tourists to
Jaane Kya Dikh Jaaye', Rajasthan's campaign to promote tourism in the state, conceptualized four years ago, became an instant hit with the audience and enjoyed a recall value like never before. The idea was to revamp the campaign after every two years but then it grabbed the imagination of people within the country and outside. Vasundhara Raje Chief Minister of Rajasthan For the first time, we crossed the double digits and received about 10.2 million foreign tourists in our country. The prime minister has declared 2019 as the tourism cooperation year for the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. The liberalization of the visa policy, introduction of e-visa for about 163 countries has been a game changer. This has facilitated many tourists to easily obtain visas for a visit to India. Rashmi Verma Secretary – Tourism, Government of India
easily obtain visas for a visit to India.’ Randhir Vikram Singh, Co-Chairman, FICCI Rajasthan State Council, feels, 'The sapling of GITB planted by Vasundhara Raje 10 years back has grown into one of the largest inbound tourism platforms and is poised to grow bigger and better with its continuity being extended to 2024 through the exchange of a GITB MoU.'
Says Deepak Deva, Co-Chairman, FICCI Tourism Committee and Managing Director, SITA, Travel Corporation (I) Ltd & Distant Frontiers, we have hosted 2,500 buyers and more from around the world over these 10 editions. This gives Incredible India and Rajasthan tourism, I think, great exposure. GITB, if I may say so, is truly a national show hosted in the city that I grew up in, Jaipur, and I am very proud of that.'
Having been associated with GITB for years, Sudhir Sobti, Chief Manager – PR & Publicity, Tourism, Events & Film Shooting Facilitation, Delhi Tourism & Transportation Development Corporation Ltd., opines, 'GITB is where you can showcase and represent your initiatives to the foreign buyers who come in large numbers. Delhi is a place where you have 5000-year-old history existing and at the same time you have New Delhi, which is keeping pace with the world as a developed city.'
Reflecting on the journey of GITB, Rajan Sehgal, Member, FICCI Tourism Committee, states, 'As far as the tourism industry is concerned, FICCI is doing a fantastic job and GITB is one of the best inbound shows not only of India but one of the best in Asia.' He suggested that there was a need to spread good and positive news about India and there should be one window clearance for filming in India.
Visiting India for the first time, Katarzyna Otwinowska, Marketing & PR Manager, Olimp Air Biuro Podróży, shares her experience at the travel mart, 'I want to learn more about India, talk to my clients and prepare programmes with my partners. I want to explore opportunities in business tourism which can be combined with leisure tourism. I want to learn about possibilities as India is different from other countries.'
A steady participant at GITB, Chetan Bansal, Chief Operations Officer, Arya Niwas, says, 'We have three-star category affordable heritage hotels and have been in this business for 30 years. This is our fifth GITB and the main essence of the show is the focused approach. Foreign operators come looking for new options and we get a window to interact with them through structured meetings to understand their requirements.'
* YoY: Year over Year; FEEs: Foreign Exchange Earnings