Tourism has been a significant economic multiplier, especially in India ‘s service sector where it accounts for over 8.78 % of the total workforce. Rural, Adventure, Medical, Pilgrimage, Film and Eco-Tourism are the top emerging segments in the sector. By 2028, Tourism & Hospitality is expected to touch US$ 460 billion. India ranks 3rd in WTTC Travel & Tourism Power and Performance list and 10th among 185 countries in terms of travel & tourism’s total contribution to GDP in 2019.
Travel and Tourism is one of the largest Foreign Exchange Earners in India with a non-domestic inflow of $29.962 billion at an annual growth rate of 4.8% by 2019. Foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in India stood at 10.89 million in the year 2019. In this regard, the Incredible India initiative has spurred growth in tourist arrivals and created numerous business opportunities. Tourism has been an integral pillar of the Make in India programme, with food, beverage and accommodation being the primary avenues for potential business development.
Acknowledging the pivotal role played by tourism in India’s economy, the government has taken some significant measures to encourage the growth of the sector:
- Permission has been granted for 100% FDI in the travel and tourism sector under the automatic route.
- The government has launched the Swadesh Darshan scheme under which 13 thematic circuits in the country have been selected for development of tourism infrastructure. During 2019-20, an additional fund of US$ 269.22 million was sanctioned for new projects under the scheme.
- A 5-year tax holiday has been offered for 2, 3 and 4-star category hotels located around a majority of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- The Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned US$ 211.35 million for 18 projects under Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD schemes in order to develop and promote tourism in the North Eastern region. Mizoram and Manipur witnessed the highest growth rates in numbers of foreign tourist arrivals between 2018 and 2019 at 132% and 112% respectively.
- The Statue of Unity was inaugurated in October 2018 and the total revenue generated till November 2019 stood at US$ 11.81 million.
- The E-visa facility has been extended to nationals of 169 Countries under 5 sub-categories. Tourist arrivals through e-visa increased 58.8% year-on-year to 1.457 million between January and November 2017.
- The government has planned 5 Special Tourism Zones to be developed in partnership with the states to further boost tourism in India.