Tourism industry has the potential to surpass even IT services industry in India if effective steps, like making the sector more organised and adopting cashless transactions, are taken, a marketing expert said here on Friday.
"Right now, IT services (industry) is about $150 billion, mostly export-oriented and tourism is $120 billion, growing at 7.50 per cent," Jagdish N Sheth, Professor of Marketing at Emory University, USA, said.
"As IT services industry begins to be highly competitive globally and as we move more toward the cloud and mobile platform...where we don't have the talent. We have the enterprise, we think that the growth of the Indian IT services will not be as great as it used to be 20 years ago," he said.
Recalling that IT services industry in the country started off as a small enterprises sector, he said tourism sector can learn a lot from the IT industry.
"I think, with proper intervention, if one can scale it like IT services industry did. It began as a small enterprises, suddenly they became scale-oriented and could recruit 40-50,000 graduates every year. I think if tourism can do the same thing...tourism can learn enormously from IT services industry," he said. Making payment system online as much as possible for the convenience of tourists would be important to make it hassle-free for the tourists, Sheth said.
"Tourism, how can you make unorganised, informal sector more organised. Again, it is similar to demonetisation.
If you make tourism less and less cash dependent...," he said. "As soon as you land, you go to the exchange place. It is very problematic. You have the currency. When you are exiting, you don't know what to do," he further said.
Promotion of computerisation in tourism would also help the IT services industry in a win-win situation, Sheth said.
Like it happened in the IT industry, entrepreneurship needs to grow in tourism industry for the sector to grow, he said.
"Think about making that unbranded street food, package it, promote it like 'Haldirams'. You are going to be millionaire. And, also serve the society well...So, we need to just upgrade the way you do businesses," he said.
Citing the example of China, Sheth suggested that hosting mega conventions would attract more tourists.
"China is hosting mega conventions...Event based tourism is what Singapore has done. Not just meant for Singaporeans, but everybody comes there...That is a big thing. For which, you need to build an infrastructure," he said.
"So, all major cities of the world have gone from typical small group tourism to more convention-style tourism. Because, then you can sustain a large convention bureau, a hotel structure etc," Sheth said.
The state tourism boards need to take good care of tourists from the moment they land till they leave, he said.
Noting that the IT industry grew in the country as governments took steps, like establishing Special Economic Zones and engineering colleges, he said tourism can become more organised.