Travel Trade Journal
Crucial for Inbound Travel
Since 2022, the outbound market in India is growing stronger compared to the inbound market. The three major factors that are restricting the growth of inbound travel are the lack of overseas promotions by the Ministry of Tourism, increased airfares of incoming flights to India, and the nation being an overpriced tourism market compared to the neighbouring countries. TTJ interacts with some of the stalwarts in the travel business as they express their opinion on inbound travel in the country.
The Union Culture and Tourism Minister, G. Kishan Reddy, in February, said that nearly 69 lakh foreign tourists visited India in 2022, indicating a fourfold increase in the number of arrivals after two years of negative growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Inbound Tourism is surely making a comeback, but it is slow, steady, and not to the expectations. A lot of work still requires to be done to attract more and more inbound tourists.
Dipak Deva, Managing Director, Travel Corporation India, says, “The recovery is slow. We have to be honest, there is no overseas promotion by the government, and there is no real focus on inbound travel as domestic seems to be the flavour of the year. So inbound is bound to return, but it will take time.”
Adding more, Deva apprises, “The destination needs to be marketed well to the world, especially in source markets, which can be done through PR agencies who can build a narrative for the destination. Roadshows are important to promote the destination. It is time for the ministry to involve the Embassies around the world to engage with the trade and the media in a more aggressive way to build a positive narrative for India. Incredible India can only be effective if the government increases its budget for overseas promotion.”
Sharing his thoughts, Randhir Vikram Singh, President, Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA) said, “India has always been a preferred destination for the world traveller and with the global travel climate gradually returning to normalcy, the inbound market will once again continue to steadily grow.”
Singh also went on to say, “One major recommendation for the State tourism authorities and the Ministry of Tourism is to follow the Rajasthan model. The State has granted industry status to the travel and tourism sector as well as its affiliate services. It has made sure that every major policy includes benefits for the stakeholders in tourism. It has enabled ‘Ease of doing Business’ through quick and efficient processing and implementation of subsidies, benefits, rebates, registrations, certifications, etc. The Rajasthan State Government has done path-breaking work in promoting Tourism and Travel. This is something that others must replicate in their regions.”
On the other hand, Prateek Hira, Chairman, FICCI UP Tourism Committee and President and CEO, Tornos, opined, “The growth of domestic and outbound travel showcases the potential and readiness of the destination. While the flights are going out, they are coming in too. All this movement is making inbound tourism ready. I am hopeful that India will touch the pre-pandemic levels by 2024 and then on, inbound tourism will only be experiencing an upward trend, surpassing the growth percentages registered in the past. The Central and state governments are doing their best to make India an attractive inbound tourism destination and living up to the ‘post-COVID-tourists’ demands that have changed quite a bit in the past two years.”
Adding more Pratik states, “It is true that India has traditionally lacked in its marketing efforts for tourism, which needs to be corrected now. It is even more important now as destinations worldwide are competing with each other stiffly to make themselves more attractive and to get a bigger pie of the leisure travellers from world over. Barring a few states of India, most states in India do not accord a high priority to tourism or see tourism as one of the drivers of their economy. This unfortunate stance has to change and change fast before India loses out on the inbound travellers’ market, which is now spoilt for choices and has more on its plate than it can eat.”
According to Pratik, perception is what drives tourism and India should work hard to correct and change all the negative perceptions that are doing the rounds internationally. Now that India’s tourism is poised for growth, large businesses need to shun the self-centred policy of ‘only me’ and come forward to support small businesses and help new-age tourism entrepreneurs grow and prosper in the tourism ecosystem.