- Recently, state tourism ministers convened in Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh) for the first time to discuss, debate, and deliberate on modes and mechanisms for developing tourism in India.
- The three-day National Conference of State Tourism Ministers concluded with the creation of ‘The Dharamshala Declaration,’ which was co-created.
GS Paper – 3: Growth & Development
“The tourism industry is a vital part of the Indian economy.” Discuss the need for a suitable policy for the overall growth of the tourism sector in light of the statement. (250 Words)
Concerning the Dharamshala Declaration
- Description: According to the document “Dharamshala Declaration-2020: Sustainable and Responsible Tourism,” India will play a critical role in contributing to global tourism recovery, primarily through domestic tourism.
- It declares that necessary interventions, such as visa reform, ease of travel, travel-friendly immigration facilities at airports, and openness to international travel, will be implemented.
- Background: The Dharamshala Declaration is inspired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Whole of Government’ approach, which allows for the breaking down of silos and the encouragement of synergies across various government corridors.
- Additionally, in his 2019 Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Modi urged every Indian who could afford to travel to visit at least 15 locations in India by 2022 and discover the country.
Establish India as a global leader:
- The document discusses the following short-term and long-term tourism goals:
- Short-term objectives: The Indian tourism industry will strive to restore tourism to pre-pandemic levels by 2024, with a $150 billion GDP contribution, USD 30 billion in foreign exchange earnings, and 15 million foreign tourist arrivals.
- In the medium term, a $250 billion contribution to GDP by 2030, 137 million jobs, more than 25 million foreign tourist arrivals, and USD 56 billion in foreign exchange earnings are expected.
- Long-term: Ensuring India’s position as one of the world’s tourism leaders, with a revenue target of $1 trillion by 2047.
- Action Plan: According to the declaration, the Tourism Ministry has devised a strategy to encourage more Indians to travel domestically and explore India’s natural, cultural, and spiritual beauty, while also achieving the goal of a ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ (interaction and mutual understanding).
- Tourism Clubs: The Union Tourism and Culture Minister urged states to establish tourism clubs on a “war footing.”
- The proposal is to establish Yuva Tourism clubs at the district and mandal levels.
- Increase international tourism: At the same time, the Tourism Ministry has been collaborating with the Ministry of External Affairs to identify the 20 Indian missions abroad with the highest tourist footfalls to India and develop country-specific strategies to attract foreign tourists.
- Importance: The Conference is significant in light of India’s current G20 presidency (in 2023). The G-20 will be used as a platform to show the world India’s age-old dictum of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ and tourism potential.
The Pandemic and Tourism Reimagined
- Rethinking strategy: The tourism industry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme of the Government of India was recently increased by 50,000 crore, from 4.5 lakh crore to 5 lakh crore.
- It aims to help businesses in the hospitality and related sectors, such as hotels and restaurants, marriage halls, travel agents, tour operators, adventure and heritage facilities, that have been impacted by the pandemic.
- As a result of these steps, all major tourism indices such as domestic air passenger traffic, hotel occupancy, and tourist footfalls have shown signs of improvement in recent months.
- Draft framework: Following extensive consultations, the Ministry of Tourism has prepared a draught National Tourism Policy 2022.
- It seeks to improve the country’s framework conditions for tourism development by assisting tourism industries, strengthening tourism support functions, and developing tourism sub-sectors.
- The policy also encourages private sector participation through public-private partnerships (PPP).
- Guiding principles: These include promoting sustainable, responsible, and inclusive tourism in accordance with our cultural ethos. The National Green Tourism Mission seeks to formalise this approach.
- Sub-missions: Through the National Digital Tourism Mission and the Tourism and Hospitality Sector Skill Mission, the National Tourism Policy aims to boost digitalisation, innovation, and technology, as well as skilling.
- Importance: Once the new policy is ratified, the Ministry will have a new set of tools and frameworks to carry out the vision and goals that we have set for ourselves.
- Other initiatives: In addition, the Ministry of Tourism has launched a number of initiatives and implemented a four-pronged development strategy that focuses on: o Improving connectivity – air, rail, and roads
- Improving tourism infrastructure and related services
- Simplifying branding and promotion
- Promoting culture and heritage
The Tourism Sector in India: Its Role and Importance
- The tourism sector is an important pillar of the “Make in India” programme, encouraging the development of multi-use infrastructure such as hotels, resorts, and restaurants, as well as transportation infrastructure (airports, roads, shipping, and railways) and healthcare facilities.
- In India, the travel and tourism sector is one of the largest employers, accounting for nearly 12.75% of total employment (direct and indirect) in 2018-19.
India’s Tourism Sector’s Challenges
- Despite the introduction of an e-visa facility, visitors find the process of applying for a visa to be time-consuming.This process will become even more complicated in the post-Covid era.
- Infrastructure and Connectivity: Infrastructure deficiencies and insufficient connectivity impede tourist visits to some heritage sites. Many tourist destinations, such as Kangchenjunga, are still inaccessible.
- Tourism segments or circuits: While India has numerous tourist destinations, there are only a few circuits. Furthermore, many previously announced tourist circuits have yet to be implemented on the ground.
- Promotion and Marketing: While marketing for Indian tourism has increased, online marketing/branding remains limited, and campaigns are not coordinated.
- Tourist information centres are poorly managed, making it difficult for domestic and international tourists to easily access information.
- Skill Deficit: A key challenge to providing visitors with a world-class experience is a lack of adequately trained individuals in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
- A scarcity of multilingual trained guides, as well as a lack of local awareness and understanding of the benefits and responsibilities associated with the tourism industry, limit the sector’s growth
Government initiatives in India to boost the tourism sector
- Swadesh Darshan Scheme: This is a Central Sector Scheme that was launched in 2014-15 to support the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits throughout the country.
- PRASHAD Scheme: The National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD) Scheme identifies and develops pilgrim sites throughout the country to promote religious tourism.
- ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’: It aims to strengthen ties between the states by highlighting the rich heritage, culture, customs, and traditions of the paired states.
- Through student exchange programmes, people can gain a better understanding of and appreciation for the nation’s diversity.
- The Dekho Apna Desh initiative aims to organise webinars, quizzes, pledges, and discussions to keep people connected with stakeholders and encourage citizens to travel within the country.
- Adopt Heritage Project: It was launched in 2017 as a joint effort by the Ministries of Tourism, Culture, and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), as well as state/UT governments.
- It seeks to engage public and private sector organisations, as well as corporate citizens and individuals, in taking on the responsibility of making our heritage and tourism more sustainable.
- It envisions developing and maintaining tourist amenities at heritage sites, as well as making them more tourist-friendly.
- Destination North East-2020: This is an annual event hosted by the Ministry of Development of the North Eastern Region that highlights various North Eastern Region potentials such as eco-tourism, culture, heritage, and business.
- The Gati Shakti Master Plan aims to develop ‘holistic infrastructure’ by incorporating infrastructure schemes from various Ministries and State Governments such as Bharatmala, Sagarmala, inland waterways, dry/land ports, UDAN, and so on.
- To improve connectivity and make Indian businesses more competitive, economic zones such as textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, fishing clusters, and agri zones will be covered.
- Bharat Gaurav Yojana: The scheme, which will be launched in November 2021, aims to highlight India’s rich cultural heritage and historical sites through Bharat Gaurav trains (Theme- based Tourist Circuit trains).