$20 billion revenue from global tourists: WEF

India’s travel and tourism industry has a potential opportunity of receiving $20 billion additional revenue from international tourists and creation of one million additional jobs if it grows international arrivals to 20 million, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

A white paper released by WEF, found that India has to focus on its opportunities and understand its current limitations to realise its objective of welcoming over 15 million foreign tourists by 2025 and becoming the largest aviation market by 2030.

The country currently receives 9 million international tourists a year.

As India prepares to launch the Incredible India 2.0 with a budget of over $46 million, WEF recommends public-private cooperation in its execution. 

According to the WEF, the country has to take advantage of the unexplored 600,000 villages with their own cultures and heritage, eco tourism and cruise tourism to create unique experiences for travelers and enhance the perception and reality of India as a safe destination by designing and implementing enhanced security protocols.

It should 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

The tourism sector should 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.

The WEF recommended that the labour force available in India provide a quality product to tourists by training skilled and unskilled workers in the hospitality industry through both public and private programmes. The industry supported 40.3 million jobs in 2016 and accounted for 9.3 per cent of the country’s total jobs.

“The industry is people focused and the quality of its people defines the value of the product. Hence the need to train and educate staff is acute here. The industry has the power to create jobs across the economy – at various skill levels- and for the marginalised sectors of the society such a young people and women and in areas where other opportunities are scarce,” Aditi Balbir, founder and CEO of V Resorts and one of the key contributors to the WEF report said. The WEF white paper also recommends a proposal to create a Tourism Board.

Currently, India’s travel and tourism industry is fragmented and lacks a unified public-private body to represent the industry.

This board could support enhancing industry coordination, public-private sector initiatives and enacting change through policy recommendations.

According to Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, India reached 40th position compared to 65th in 2013.

Sangeetha G.