Prime Minister Narendra Modi has certainly recognized tourism as an important contributor to economic growth and job creation. Since assuming office in 2014, numerous efforts to push India up as a tourism hub have been made. The results have started to trickle in.
India Slowly Becoming The Choice Destination
Foreign tourist arrivals have seen an uptick since 2014. Despite a global slowdown, foreign tourist arrivals grew by 5.2 per cent in 2018 and 2.7 per cent in January-October 2019. Foreign exchange earnings from tourists clocked at $24 billion in January-October 2019.
Chart 1: Foreign Tourist Arrivals in India (Source: Economic Survey 2019-20)
Foreign tourists from the top 10 countries visiting India – Bangladesh, USA, UK, Sri Lanka, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, China, Germany and Russia – accounted for 65 per cent of the total foreign tourist arrivals in India in 2018. 62.4 per cent of foreign tourists visited India for leisure, holiday and recreation, 16.3 per cent came to India for business purposes, and the balance 13.5 per cent was Indian diaspora.
These States Top The Tourist Chart
The top five states attracting foreign tourists are Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan, accounting for about 67 per cent of the total foreign tourist visits in the country in 2018. Somewhat similar trends were seen for domestic tourists – Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra accounted for nearly 65 per cent of the total domestic tourist visits in the country in 2018.
Budget 2020 Gives A Further Fillip
Budget 2020 has recognized the ongoing success story, and has proposed measures to support this sector with a generous hand by allocating ₹2,500 crores in Budget 2020-21 with a clear agenda. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed to establish an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation under Ministry of Culture. This shall help to train personnel in disciplines such as museology and archaeology, which are essential for collecting and analysing scientific evidence of such findings and for dissemination through high quality museums.
Renovation of four additional museums across the country, and the development of a museum on Numismatics and Trade in Old Mint building Kolkata was announced. New museums – Tribal Museum in Ranchi (Jharkhand), and maritime museum in Lothal (Gujarat) were also proposed.
Developing Heritage Sites Across India
The Budget also announced support for development of five archaeological sites – Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Sibsagar in Assam, Dholavira in Gujarat, and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu – as iconic sites with onsite museums.
The Finance Minister also laid out the desire of the Centre that State governments develop a roadmap for certain identified destinations and formulate financial plans during 2021 against which specified grants will be made available to the States in 2020-21.
The government is taking steps to ensure that Indian tourism’s success story carries on, unimpeded. With the rollout of the new plans and states supporting it, the importance of this sector in the overall economic scenario to provide jobs and improve foreign currency earnings will continue to increase.