Data Stories

Tourism – Not a Footnote Industry Anymore

India has historically been an attraction for travellers across the globe since many centuries. India’s cultural wealth, diversity of trade basket and socio-economic diversity has always been a case study that travellers have strived to experience and document. It is a pity that we were unable to harness the economic potential of tourism and equip the sector with tools that would enable bolster its growth and make it an industry to reckon with. However, there has been a discernable shift in the sector since Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known to be a leader who believes entrepreneurial growth is the way forward, assumed office. With a decade plus administrative experience as the Chief Minister of Gujarat behind him, the PM not only understands the challenges faced by conventional methods of addressing concerns of the tourism sector, but is also cognizant of the remedial measures for the same. Robust support to the tourism sector through seamless policy infrastructure have successfully impacted two ‘E’s i.e. economy and employment.

  • Travel and tourism to GDP in 2017 was 3.7%. It is forecasted to increase by 7.1% year-on-year to 3.9% of GDP by 2028


  • Tourism industry is one of the key ways to earn foreign exchange. Foreign Exchange Earnings through Tourism (FEEs) increased by 17% during 2017 (Rs. 1.80 lakh crore) compared to 2016 (Rs. 1.54 lakh crore).


  • Visitor exports, sum of the spending within a nation by international tourists for leisure and business (including transports) clocked sustained growth in the past 5 years.

Source: Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2018 India, World Travel and Tourism Council

  • Capital investment comprises of the capital investment spending by all industries directly involved in travel & tourism, including accommodation and passenger transport equipment, as well as restaurants and leisure facilities for specific tourism use.

Source: Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2018 India, World Travel and Tourism Council


The sector has the ability to provide for skilled and unskilled labor, which makes it pertinent from the point of view of job creation across the spectrum. As per the Ministry of Tourism, 14.62 million jobs were created.

  • The Ministry launched an Online Learning Management System to create a pool of skilled tourist facilitators. This skilling initiative serves two prime objectives i.e. it allows remote learning and is therefore affordable; and it creates a pool of facilitators who can be employed pan India based on the local skill requirements such as language and dialect.
  • According to World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), travel & tourism in 2017 in India supported 41 million jobs and is expected to rise to 43 million in 2018, and a further 53 million in 2028.
  • As on May 2018, there were more than 90 thousand rooms and 944 operators (travel agents and tour operators). These variables compound employment avenues and generate livelihood opportunities for skilled and unskilled labor, likewise.

Considering the economic significance, the tourism industry can no more be treated as a footnote. We need to invest in the sector, to ensure India is a preferred tourism destination for business, leisure, religious, medical, education or rural tourism. The sector is helping in controlling migration by creating local opportunities, attracting investments, earning foreign exchange and also promoting environmental awareness. As India moves away from conventional economic models, this is a sunrise sector, which should be integrated in mainstream policy decision making.