With the holiday season setting in, travelers across the world look out for various destinations to spend time. However, with tourists flowing in the need arises for better infrastructure. Tourism infrastructure demands for better services, services related to Airports, Railways, Transport, better shopping facilities, accommodation, restaurants, recreational facilities, medical facilities etc. Infrastructure services like power, telecommunication, water supply, accessibility to better hygiene also can boost tourism infrastructure. Ancillary services like availability of travel items, sports equipment, photographic material and cosmetics can also be included as a part of tourism infrastructure. The other important ones are development of infrastructure products like trekking material, winter sports material, wildlife and beach resorts and trained human resource. Facilitating and developing private sector participation is also a key factor to the growth of tourism infrastructure.
Today tourism sector’s expected contribution to GDP is about US$ 136.2 billion and is expected to grow further to US$ 280.5 billion by 2025 almost contributing around 7.2 per cent of GDP. Among the services sector in India, our tourism and travel industry has been proven as one of the key drivers of growth for the sector. Considering the varied cultural and historical heritage, variety in ecology, mountains and terrains, rivers and places of natural beauty spread across the country, tourism in India has significant potential. Apart from providing large employment it also provides significant source of foreign exchange for the country.
While we discuss the benefits and potential of this large sector like tourism there is an immediate need for integrated development of basic infrastructure and amenities along with planning for sustainable development of Tourism Infrastructure across all the tourism facilities in a balanced manner. For developing economies like India there is lot which needs to be done in terms of development. Today we have a dubious distinction of attracting only a mere 0.4% share of international travelers. In India the contribution of tourism industry to the GDP hovers around 5.6% while globally it averages around 11.6%. Tourism sector, of much lesser developed countries, with not much significant geographies, have contributed significantly to their respective GDPs.
The time has come to provide priority to this sector by sustainable infrastructure development. Priority should be provided to tourism, by tax reforms, by incentivizing private sector, introducing newer concepts like single window clearance for foreign investments, providing land, assisting with bank loans, allowing free flow of foreign exchange in the country, involve professionals and substantially less interference by bureaucrats is the need of the hour. Probably this is how we can boost tourism infrastructure. While focusing on infrastructure development we also should keep in mind about the growth of sustainable tourism. An ecological balance has to be maintained in terms of service provision and service consumption.
While India's infrastructure problems are innumerable, the time has come to create better facilities be it highways, railways or airports. There is an urgent need for the civic authorities to create better environment and work in tandem with the infrastructure project managers and provide necessary facilities by removing and resolving the bottlenecks so that people get the full benefit out of it.
On a global Tourism & Travel competitive index India has moved up 13 positions in the year 2016 from rank 65th to 52nd. India’s rising middle class population has contributed significantly to the growth of domestic and outbound tourism. According to a data from the Ministry of Tourism, Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India has increased by about 11.8 per cent year-on-year to 670,000 tourists in August 2016. With the advent of internet and mobile bookings, online hotel and travel bookings in India are expected to double.
To wind up, besides giving a fillip to the country’s overall economic and social development, Indian tourism has vast potential for generating employment and earning large sums of foreign exchange. There is lot to be done by improving air seat capacity, increasing railway connectivity to important tourist destinations, improving road connectivity to important tourist centers, adding hotel accommodation by improving living conditions in heritage hotels and encouraging paying guest accommodations. Since tourism is a multi-dimensional activity it would be necessary to coordinate with the Central and State governments, private sectors and voluntary organizations. If Indian has to be a global player, there should be lot of encouragement from government to individuals to become active partners in the mission to attain a sustainable growth to tourism in India.