The recently released Report on “The Incredible India 2.0” by the World Economic Forum (WEF) strongly recommends that India should take advantage of 600,000 villages with their own cultures and heritage, ecotourism and cruise tourism to create unique experiences for travelers.
To complement the holistic approach at the national level, the Report also recommends a state-level approach, with a proposal to create a pilot in a state that has traditionally welcomed fewer international visitors, and to develop a few of its destinations via public-private cooperation.
According to the Report, it is estimated that growing international arrivals to 20 million will lead to $19.9 billion in incremental tourism receipts. The Report addresses how India should enhance its value proposition and create an enabling environment for the country’s travel and tourism industry.
In recent years, India has tremendously improved its travel and tourism competitiveness, rising from 65th position in 2013 to 40th position in The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017. India is now one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world, with its domestic demand reaching nearly 100 million passengers. Yet international arrivals have remained relatively low, at 9 million, providing India with a unique opportunity to consider how to build demand and create adequate supply for its travel and tourism industry. Focusing on its opportunities and understanding its current limitations will allow India to realize its objective of welcoming over 15 million foreign tourists by 2025 and becoming the largest aviation market by 2030.
Already endowed with incredible natural beauty and a unique cultural heritage and diversity, India must enhance its value proposition and foster an enabling environment for the industry to prosper. Specifically, this Report puts forward the following recommendations, highlighting the importance of public-private cooperation in execution:
- Integrate the Incredible India campaign into a holistic campaign that includes not only print but also other channels, such as digital, social, placement, review sites and global media and that focuses on the positives of visitor-created content, while addressing the challenges these visitors report.
- Enhance the perception and reality of India as a safe destination by designing and implementing enhanced security protocols.
- Invest in both physical and digital infrastructure development to confront the issue of last mile connectivity, hazardous road travel and the lack of affordable hotels hampering international travellers’ experiences, while elevated taxes hinder the industry’s profitability.
- Take advantage of the labour force available in India to provide a quality product to tourists, by training skilled and unskilled workers in the hospitality industry through both public and private programmes.
To move from vision to reality, a proposal to create a Tourism Board has been put forward. Currently, India’s travel and tourism industry is fragmented and lacks a unified public private body to represent the industry, in turn hindering its ability to achieve its potential. This board could support enhancing industry coordination, joint messaging, building Indian talent, driving forward industry-wide policy recommendations and enacting change through policies, as well as public-private policy initiatives and small and medium-sized enterprise growth, while considering India’s reality and best practices from other countries.