Tourism industry in India is plagued with many problems. Infect despite declaration of tourism as industry the activity has not yet received that much of focus by the government and the private entrepreneurs. Private sector is still shy to invest in this activity.
Lack of adequate infrastructure (transport, communication, banking, hotel etc) is the primary constraint in achieving the full potentials of our tourism. Many of our important tourist places are not connected by air. They also do not have good hotel and rest houses. The visa formalities are complex and delaying.
The lack of sensitivity also has affected the ambience of most of the tourist attractions and has put tremendous pressure on the country’s priceless heritage. About 5,500 heritage monuments protected by the Archaeological Survey of India and another 5,000 or so looked after by the State Archaeological Departments suffer seriously from lack of resources for maintenance.
Another drawback of the Indian tourism is the absence of participation by the people both in promoting and in benefiting from promoting the tourism potentials. The tourism sector has also complained of multiplicity of taxes and high level of taxation. Some of the international comparisons have shown Indian tourism sector to one of the highest taxed. Even the Inter-State tourist transporters are clamoring for rationalisation of taxes imposed by various State governments.
In the federal structure of India, the promotion of tourism is the responsibility of the State Government. The resource allocations by most of the states for the development of tourism sector have been meager (Rs. 300 crores by the states and Rs. 100 crores by the Centre).
Many of the tourist centers lie in disturbed zones due to terrorist activities and law and order problem. This has badly reduced the tourist traffic to Jammu and Kashmir and North-East. Lack of safety in tourist places and hotels is also a matter of concern. The tourist guides are not well trained and educated to impress the foreign tourists.
But despite these shortcomings India has good potentials for tourism. The World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) has estimated that India’s travel and tourism potentials can provide by 2010 substantial resources to its economy-Rs. 500,000 crores to GDP, Rs. 130,000 crores in capital investment and Rs. 160,000 crores in export earnings.
It could also create, during this period, 7 million new jobs. If properly harnessed, the WTTC feels, travel and tourism can account for one job out of every 15 created in India (The Hindu Survey of Indian Industry, 1999, p. 397.
3. Pursue sustainable development;
4. Eliminate barriers to growth-provide incentives to the private sector and invest in human resources.
Many of these issues are accepted as part of policies of the Government and many policy initiatives have been started on most of these areas. The draft National Tourism Policy centers on creating awareness, people’s participation, public-private partnership, strengthening of organisation, creating sustainable tourism, etc. as the key objectives.
Most of the countries which have made rapid progress in tourism in recent times are distinguished by easy availability of air seat capacity, modern and efficient air transport handling facilities and free access by charter flights.
These are areas which need our urgent attention. Also there is a need to take technological developments in mind. In the next five or six years, the industry is expected to progress to a stage where more than half of the international scheduled journeys will be undertaken with new electronic tickets. These developments will pose many challenges; getting suitable aircraft, upgrading technology and safety norms, meeting the sheer pressure of numbers, and change of ideology to meet the new challenges.
The first step which needs our immediate attention is to make the access to India easy. The visa formalities should be simplified and computerized for easy verification.