For tourism, here is an Incredible India 2.0 plan: analysis
The coronavirus pandemic has affected all sectors, but perhaps the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors have been the most affected. That is why, with proper compliance, safety and sanitation measures, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the responsible reopening that is being issued, these sectors should now be resumed. Recovery moment is just around the corner.
In his Independence Day speech last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized the importance of making India a world center for tourism, urging every citizen to visit 15 tourist destinations in India by 2022. With With an internal focus on travel, we must turn this into an opportunity and advance our domestic tourism and hospitality sectors.
Travel, tourism and hospitality have a huge multiplier effect on the economy. These are sectors that can create jobs exponentially, and India needs high quality job creation now. Travel and tourism have employed more than 42 million people in India or represented approximately 8.1% of total employment opportunities. Last year, it contributed 9.3% to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and received 5.9% of total investments. You can accelerate the path to 9-10% annual growth and add millions of high-quality jobs every year. This is necessary since 72% of India’s population is under 32 years old and the average age is 29 years old. Tourism is the perfect option for the future generation.
India ranks third in the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Ranking of Travel and Tourism Power, which assesses 185 countries based on four key industry ingredients: total GDP from travel and tourism, spending by foreign visitors , internal spending and travel. and investment of tourist capital. India is now ranked only behind China and the United States (USA). The World Economic Forum conducts a biennial study across 14 vital parameters, and India has improved in 12 places in the past two years, now ranking 40th out of 136 countries in terms of travel and tourism competitiveness.
This is encouraging and makes the sector an essential cog in New India’s growth history. The sector is relatively unexploited. An additional aspect of the travel and tourism sector is that it not only provides high-quality jobs and countless synergies, but also increases investment in India, accelerates development, and displays India’s unique treasures.
Systematic tourism promotion campaigns will be important in the near future. There are two that I have run, which highlighted the attraction of India for tourists. Incredible India and God’s own country combined potential with consciousness, allowing Indian entrepreneurs, global entities, domestic and foreign tourists, and the machinery of government to work together and accelerate growth in the sector. A country-focused Incredible India 2.0 that shows what the nation offers to Indians could be the post-pandemic plan for the sector. After all, India has amazing diversity, from 38 Unesco World Heritage sites to the Himalayas, pristine beaches, and many other natural assets. On top of that, India’s achievement in conserving the tiger population has led to an increase in the tiger population to 2,967 in 2018 from 2,226 in 2014. This is an increase of 741 tigers or nearly 25%, which which makes India host around 70% of the world’s tiger population.
Before the pandemic, work on transportation to allow access to many of India’s hidden treasures was paying off. The UDAN scheme has been a great success, and now the government can focus on previous plans to launch 100 tourism-oriented trains. Also added to the ease of access is the work that has been done on roads, highways and ports, highlighted by the Bharatmala and Sagarmala projects. Work has also been done to improve airport capacity and expand regional connectivity. The Indian Airports Authority has estimated capital expenditure targets of over ~ Rs 20 billion by 2022, and more than 70 under-utilized regional airports will be developed.
The holistic island development plan is an ambitious policy directive that focuses on the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) and Lakshadweep islands. It tackles tourism-based projects that automatically create jobs for the islanders and improve connectivity through key infrastructure projects.
Until the pandemic, the restaurant industry was a dynamic sector. Expect to see them bounce back, starting with Unlock 1.0, with delivery services like Zomato and Swiggy having been involved in essential goods deliveries and maintaining the supply chain for food delivery throughout the block. India has recently become a major player in the culinary ecosystem, turning restaurants into a market of ~ 4.25,000 crore. They create millions of jobs and they also have a massive multiplier impact.
Travel and tourism will be the key driver for high-quality employment and unparalleled sustainable growth for the next 30 years. Despite the challenges, as we responsibly reopen, opportunities for the sector to help growth will continue to increase, and domestic demand will help build confidence in the revival of the sector. The pandemic has only altered progress, it has not stopped it. A responsible and gradual recovery is imminent, and there is no better time for it than now. The positive impact of the sector will encompass all the downstream and upstream benefits that accompany growth in this sector. This has the potential to become the greatest job creator for India.
Amitabh Kant is CEO, NITI Aayog
The opinions expressed are personal.