Govt initiatives lifted tourism sector in India in 2019
New Delhi: 2019 has been a watershed year for the tourism sector in India. Even amid a major economic slowdown, the tourism industry has been consistently providing support to the ailing economy. Most significantly, foreign tourist arrivals surged 3.2 per cent during January to November 2019, while the foreign exchange earnings shot up by 7.4 per cent during the same period.
According to the data, as many as 10 million foreign tourists visited India in 2019 and they spent over Rs.1, 800 billion between January and November. That is 3.2 per cent growth from last year. Adding, this may be attributed to easy access to e-visas and government schemes. Of the total foreign visitors, over 2.5 million arrived on an e-tourist visa - which grew by 24 per cent.
The government has substantially reduced the visa fee on e-visa to increase tourism competitiveness of the country. "e-Tourist Visa fee for 30 days (April-June) is US $10, for 30 days (July- March) is US $25, for a year the e-Tourist Visa is US $40 and for five years the fee is US $80," tourism ministry mentioned.
In another major step to boost the tourism sector in the country, the government has also reduced GST on hotel rooms with tariffs of Rs 1,001 to Rs 7,500 per night to 12 per cent and those above Rs 7,501 to 18 per cent."The government has reduced GST on hotel rooms with tariffs of Rs 1,001 to Rs 7,500/night to 12 per cent; those above Rs 7,501 to 18 per cent to increase India's competitiveness as a tourism destination vis-à-vis other competing markets in the region," an official release mentioned.
Adding, India's rank in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) of the World Economic Forum has moved from 65 in 2013 to 34 in 2019. Apart, while amid many roadblocks for the tourism industry, the government has also adopted the development of thematic circuits comprising 77 projects, is being undertaken under the 'Swadesh Darshan Scheme'."...A total number of 77 projects for an amount of Rs 6035.70 Crore have been sanctioned till date under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme," the communiqué mentioned. Aiming to promote the adventure tourism, 120 mountain peaks for mountaineering and trekking has been opened.
Also, the "Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan" project is a collaborative effort by both tourism and culture ministry and Archaeological Survey of India, state or UT governments for developing tourist amenities at heritage or the tourist sites and making them tourist-friendly, in a planned and phased manner. The tourism ministry has signed 27 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) to date under the Adopt a Heritage project.
The ministry has revamped the 'Incredible India' website, showcases India as a holistic destination, revolving around major experiences, such as spirituality, heritage, adventure, culture, yoga, wellness and more. Going forward, the website will be available in Hindi and leading international languages. Hindi version of Incredible India was launched in the Tourism Ministers Conference held on August 20, in the last year at Ashok Hotel in the national capital.
Apart from being a large employment generator and a vital source of foreign exchange, tourism in India has significant potential considering the rich cultural and historical heritage, variety in ecology, terrains, and places of natural beauty spread across the country. After the abrogation of Article 370, the government has decided to focus on revamping the tourism sectors in both the new Union Territories. The Minister of Tourism and Culture Prahlad Singh Patel led a delegation of senior officials of the tourism ministry to Ladakh from September 3 to 6, 2019 to explore the tourism potential of Ladakh and design appropriate policy interventions for tourism in consultation with the local authorities in Ladakh. Government has also planned to develop it as a tourism hub. Such hubs lead to employment generation on a high scale.