Tourism can be studied from the perspectives of economics, sociology and international relations. While each of these perspectives yields knowledge about different aspects of the phenomenon, they are of no comfort to a policymaker whose business consists of finding optimum relationship between the objectives outlined and these perspectives. In a way, managerial analysis presumes information on these accounts: economic, social and international and seeks further information on possible product mixes or strategies for growth. This emphasis on relevance is more important in the case of under-developed or developing economics that have to start from a scratch and build a tourist base in accordance with a definite policy.
In any policy decision regarding tourism, the consumer must first be separated from the total existing and possible sets of others in order to determine the actual size. This facilitates the measurement of intended results and unintended consequences. Obviously, the intended results and unintended consequences are to be conceived in terms of the objectives outlined. Further, the results and consequences are to be made compatible with the input to the enterprise. Each set of these questions must be viewed in its historical context before it is viewed with its contemporaries.
Singling out the consumer called 'tourist' from the wider set of consumers called 'travellers, with whom they are tangled, is a tricky business since it involves isolation of motives of travel. Man's motives for travelling have always been mixed. No single factor can explain the total motivational pattern although for practical purposes one can pinpoint the predominant motive. Across time, in a visitor's bag of motives, certain packages have shrunk while others have become enlarged.
The first nomad who wandered with his movable dwelling in search of food and shelter from one place to another, must have been struck by the variations of ecology. This must have been a pleasant experience for him. The shift from unintended pleasure out of travel to travelling exclusively for pleasure constitutes the history of tourism, which is closely related to man's economic growth, cultural and political development. Once the man had settled on the land or found a place under the sun, which he called his home, movement from that to any other place brought out the meaning of travel into the open. To this day, in all statistical tables and computations dealing with tourism, the tourist's permanent place of residence is considered a significant factor.
Tourism is the largest export industry in the world. International tourism is the largest single item in the world's foreign trade and for some countries it is already the most important export industry and earner of foreign exchange. The impact of tourism on national economies is becoming increasingly important today because of the growing size of the tourist market. It is recognised so by the World Bank and the World Tourism Organisation. 27 September has been earmarked as World Tourism Day. India has been striving to get some share of this industry.
Tourism is the world's largest export industry today. According to World Tourism Organisation international tourist traffic in 1997 was 613 million which generated receipts of about US$444.0 billion. It is estimated that tourism accounts for about 8 per cent of the total world exports and more than 30 per cent of international trade in services. It is also estimated that travel and tourism provide employment to 212 million peoples directly or indirectly accounting for about 10.7 per cent of the global work force.
There has been a global tourism boom in recent times. International tourism has been performing better than world trade. Tourism receipts have registered a higher growth than that of world export in services and merchandise exports. The world tourist traffic increased by 3 per cent during 1997 and the regions which benefited the most were Africa with an increase of 9.2 per cent and South Asia with a growth of about 4.9 per cent. It is projected that the international tourist traffic will increase to about 1602 million by registering a growth of about 4.3 per cent during the period upto 2020. The South Asia Region including India is expected to record a higher growth of 6.1 per cent.
Tourism in India
"We must welcome these friendly visitors from abroad
for economic reasons for tourism brings foreign
exchange, but even more so because this leads to
greater understanding and mutual appreciation.
There is nothing that the world needs today than this
India is known for its lavish treatment to all visitors, no matter where they come from. Its visitor-friendly traditions, varied life styles and cultural heritage and colourful fairs and festivals hold abiding attractions for tourists. The other attractions include beautiful beaches, forests and wild life and landscapes for eco-tourism, snow, river and mountain peaks for adventure tourism, technological parks and science museums for science tourism; centres of pilgrimage for spiritual tourism; heritage trains and hotels for heritage tourism. Yoga, ayurveda and natural health resorts also attract tourists. The Indian handicrafts particularly, jewelry, carpets, leather goods, ivory and brass works are the main shopping items for foreign tourists.
Tourism development in India has passed through many phases. At Government level the development of tourist facilities was taken up in a planned manner in 1956 coinciding with the Second Five Year Plan. The approach has evolved from isolated planning of single unit facilities in the Second and Third Five Year Plans. The Sixth Plan marked the beginning of a new era when tourism began to be considered a major instrument for social integration and economic development.
It was after the 80's that tourism activity gained momentum. The Government took several significant steps. A National Policy on tourism was announced in 1982. Later in 1988, the National Committee on Tourism formulated a comprehensive plan for achieving a sustainable growth in tourism. In 1992, a National Action Plan was prepared and in 1996 the National Strategy for Promotion of Tourism was drafted. The draft policy recognised the role of Central and State governments, public sector undertakings and the private sector in the development of tourism. The need for involvement of Panchayati Raj institutions, local bodies, non-governmental organisations and the local youth in the creation of tourism facilities, has also been recognised.
The other major development that took place were the setting up of the Indian Tourism Development Corporation in 1966 to promote India as a tourist destination and the Tourism Finance Corporation in 1989 to finance tourism projects. Twenty one government-run hotel management and catering technology institutes and 14 food craft institutes were also established for imparting specialised training in hoteliering and catering.
Domestic tourism is as old as the Indian society. It plays a vital role in achieving the national objectives of promoting social and cultural cohesion and national integration. Its contribution to generation of employment is very high. With the increase in income levels and emergence of a powerful middle class, the potential for domestic tourism has grown substantially during the last few years. During 1999 about 175 million domestic tourists made visits outside their places of residence. Thus, it has emerged as an instrument for employment generation, poverty alleviation and sustainable human development.
The growth of inbound tourism since Independence has been quite impressive. It was around 17 thousand in 1951. It has grown substantially over the last three decades. Foreign tourist arrivals during 1999 were 24,81,928. Foreign tourist arrivals in the month of August 2000 registered an increase of 5.3 per cent over the corresponding month last year. Foreign exchange earnings from tourism during August 2000 also registered an increase of 8.3 per cent over August 1999. It was Rs.1060.22 crore. Upto August 2000, total earning was Rs.8872.40 crore, 8.1 per cent higher than the corresponding period of previous year. Tourism contributed Rs.24,241 crore during 1998-99 towards country's Gross Domestic Product. Tourism has thus become the second largest net foreign exchange earner of the country.
Some of the initiatives taken by the Government to boost tourism include grant of export house status to the tourism sector and incentives for promoting private investment in the form of Income Tax exemptions, interest subsidy and reduced import duty. The hotel and tourism-related industry has been declared a high priority industry for foreign investment which entails automatic approval of direct investment up to 51 per cent of foreign equity and allowing 100 per cent non-resident Indian investment and simplifying rules regarding the grant of approval to travel agents, tour operators and tourist transport operators. The Government has so far approved 389 tour operators, 298 travel agents, 240 transport operators and two adventure tour operators. With a view to attract more tourist charter flights to India, the system of granting clearances has been liberalised. A new air-conditioned rake of Palace on Wheels train has been fabricated and has become operational in Rajasthan. Another special tourist train Orient Express has been introduced in Gujarat sector and a few more in the private sector are likely to be introduced.
During the Golden Jubilee celebrations of India as a Republic, the Ministry of Tourism made special efforts to publicize the tourism potential of India. Planning Commission has approved a Plan outlay of Rs.793.75 crores for the Ministry of Tourism for the ninth plan period. The Year 1999 was celebrated as Explore Indian Millennium Year. A special calendar of events has been formulated for highlighting contributions to Millennium events by various places in all the State.
Focus on North-east
The seven sister states of North-east - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura - form part of the East Himalayan region which extends from Sikkim eastwards and embraces the Darjeeling Hills of West Bengal. The location of the region is strategically important as it has international borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Myanmar.
The rich natural beauty, serenity and exotic flora and fauna of the area are invaluable resources for the development of eco-tourism. The region is endowed with diverse tourist attractions and each state has its own distinct features. The attractions are scattered over the entire region and are largely located in remote areas within highly fragile environments. These attractions and the people of the region constitute the tourism resources at large.
Union Government attaches great importance to the development of tourist infrastructure in the North-east region in view of immense tourist potential of the region. Tourism has been identified as one of the most important segments, which could accelerate developmental activities in this area. The thrust has been on development and upgradation of various tourist facilities namely tourist accommodation, wayside amenities, budget adjustments, beautification and refurbishment of historical monuments/monasteries etc. Ministry of Tourism has taken a number of steps to promote and develop tourism in the region. These include opening of Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management at Guwahati; setting up of full fledged Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology at Shillong. Restrictions under the Restricted Area Permit regime have been completely withdrawn from May 1999 from Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura; relaxations are given for recognition of travel agents, tour operators and tourist transport operators. North-east States are given a special focus in the marketing conference of overseas offices of the Ministry and India's all overseas outlets are giving due publicity to these states for the promotion of tourism in the region.
During the year 1998-99, Ministry of Tourism sanctioned an amount of Rs.35.63 crore to North-east States for various developmental activities. Under the scheme for grant of Central Financial Assistance to State governments, ten per cent of budget allocation is earmarked for development of tourism in North-east. In order to have better and close monitoring and supervision of tourism activities being undertaken in this region, the government has upgraded the status of Tourist Office at Guwahati.
Kashmir, A Tourist Legend
The Kashmir valley is perhaps the single most famous part of the Indian Himalayas. Kashmir is a seemingly impossible tourist cliché. To the south, below the outer hills, lies the district of Jammu. To the northeast, lies the stark and beautiful district of Ladakh. The beauty of Kashmir is legendary.
According to geologists, Kashmir was earlier a huge lake called the Karewa, which was formed by the blocking of the Jhelum river by the rising Pir Panjal range in one of the periodic phases of Himalayan uplift. The river finally escaped by forming a deep cut across the Pir Panjal range at Uri. The waters of the Karewa were drained, leaving behind the valley of Kashmir.
The joint efforts put in by the Jammu and Kashmir government and various agencies connected with the tourism industry have resulted in a tremendous increase of tourist influx during this season. About two lakh tourists have arrived in Kashmir so far through organised tours and four to five lakh tourists are expected to visit the Valley during 2000-2001. The State Government has earmarked a substantial relief for the current fiscal year to give fillip to the tourism industry.
India has a vast potential for generating employment and earning large sums of foreign exchange besides giving a fillip to the country's overall economic and social development. Much has been achieved by way of increasing air seat capacity, increasing trains and railway connectivity to important tourist destinations, four-laning of roads connecting important tourist centres and increasing availability of accommodation by adding heritage hotels to the hotel industry and encouraging paying guest accommodation. But much more remains to be done. Since tourism is a multi-dimensional activity, and basically a service industry, it would be necessary that all wings of the central and state governments private sector and voluntary organisations become active partners in the endeavour to attain sustainable growth in tourism, if India is to become a world player in the tourist industry.