Tourism Products of India is so varied that very few countries in the world can provide such a mix of nature, richness of architecture, wildlife, festivities, shopping etc in one holiday. Thus Indian holidays provide real tourist experience. The Travellers of all ages, all budget and all interest can find their visit very satisfying.
Looking into all these aspects, one always feels that we have not been able to utilize our potential in full. Infact, we lack positive attitude to do something big that is also reflected in tourism field.
Of course, there are some real problems and many of those are influenced by internal and external factors. More important is the internal factors where a clear-cut policy directive is needed by giving priority attention to tourism, higher budget outlay, tax incentives and creating tourism friendly environment with sound service providers team;
tourism is nothing else but a combination of services for which travellers are willing to pay. It is their interest for meeting new culture i.e. experience, a new source of entertainment, eco-friendly holidays, economic viability of its products (value for money) that decide destination choice. India fits quite well in this selection process.
But sad part is that still we are hovering around 3 million tourists since last 2 years. No doubt, there were genuine reasons between 2001-2003 with series of negative global events to bring a halt to the growth. Things are improving since mid 2004. India stepped into 4 million figure by early in 2006. This is a positive growth over 2005 figures and average 15% year on growth is expected.
Same success story can be seen for tourism receipts. Even outbound traffic from India is progressively moving upward (about 7.2 million) and domestic tourism is having continuous growth which probably now stand at 370 million in 2005 and may go over 500 million in 2006.
However this small success should not create a complacent attitude. we have to move ahead cautiously as our competitors are doing much better and preparing themselves aggressively. We must see how Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and now China are coming forward with competitive packages. We have not only to match their price but product has to be improved. Our infrastructure is limited to certain metropolitan cities; many tourist places around metros do not have basic facilities.
Let us first look into Air connectivity part. We have to be well connected from the traffic generating we do not use them all because our national carrier do not have that number of aircrafts to fly from all those destinations. Thus seat capacity is always remained a big problem.. We must allow all those foreign airlines who are willing to fly to India without putting lot of conditions or soon privatize Air India so that it becomes competitive.
The position becomes all the more complex with aviation related taxes (things are bit improved with the withdrawal of ATT, reduced fuel tax etc recently. As announced by our Finance Minister in his mini-budget. Similarly our airport facilities are very outdated; they need total facelift to take more charters, bigger aircrafts and up market traffic. Airports form first impression and we can't create the right image with present condition of our International airports. We need to relax the charter norms. It will help us to combat off seasonal problems. Opening of new airport will take away congestion from metropolitan cities and open up new tourist centers that can ensure balanced growth of tourism all over India.