Service Sector – 03
Tourism sector is a major engine of economic growth that contributes significantly in terms of GDP, foreign exchange earnings and employment. As per the World Tourism Barometer of the United Nation’s World Tourism Organization (June, 2018 edition) International Tourist Arrivals (ITA) reached a total of 1.3 billion in 2017, 84 million more than in the previous year, with a growth rate of 6.7 per cent higher than the growth rate of 3.7 per cent in 2016. In India, the Tourism sector had been performing well with Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) growing at 14 per cent to 10.4 million and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) at 20.6 per cent to US$28.7 billion in 2017-18.
However, the sector witnessed a slowdown in 2018-19. The Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in 2018-19 stood at 10.6 million compared to 10.4 million in 2017-18. In terms of growth, the growth rate of FTAs declined from 14.2 per cent in 2017-18 to 2.1 per cent in 2018-19. Foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) from tourism stood at US$27.7 billion in 2018-19 as compared to US$28.7 billion in 2017-18.
In terms of growth, the FEEs declined from 20.6 per cent in 2017-18 to -3.3 per cent in 2018-19. Outbound tourism increased in recentyears, with the number of departures of Indian nationals from India, that stood at 23.94 million in 2017 from 21.87 million in 2016, with a growth rate of 9.5 per cent in 2017. This was more than double the foreign tourist arrivals in India.
The Ministry of Tourism launched the ‘National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) in January 2015 with the objective of pilgrimage infrastructure at selected important pilgrimage destinations. The total number of sites identified for development under the scheme at present is 41 in 25 states. Till date 28 projects in 17 states have been approved under the scheme since January 2015.
Under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, the Ministry of Tourism has identified 15 thematic circuits for development namely: Himalayan Circuit, North East Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit, Heritage Circuit, Tirthankar Circuit and Sufi Circuit. These circuits cover religious, spiritual, cultural, natural, tribal sites in the country. Under the scheme the Ministry is developing these thematic circuits on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner with an objective of enriching tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities.
The current contribution of the healthcare industry is over $ 110 bn and is expected to touch $ 280 bn by 2020. Availability of world – class medical facilities, skilled doctors, technicians and pharmaceuticals are some of our advantages. With digital communication and interfaces, diagnostic medicine can also be tapped into as a service for global customers.
Similarly, for tourism, India is renowned for its places of natural beauty and historical significance. Tourism presently contributes $ 47 bn to the country’s GD, compared with $ 115 bn for China. Thus, tourism has exponential possibilities to boost the Indian services sector in the next decade.
To attract significant revenues, improved customer experience (medical or tourism) is the key factor that will determine its future growth. In this context, government initiatives such as e – Visas, better infrastructure facilities, safety, connectivity etc. are enablers in the right direction.