Tourism for Inclusive Growth

World Tourism Day is celebrated on 27th September. The day was designated for the celebration by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) in September 1979 to commemorate the adoption of the UNWTO statues on 27th September 1970. This year the theme of the World Tourism Day is “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”. The theme is too relevant in the pandemic time as the pandemic has hit all without any judgement between the rich and poor. The COVID 19 pandemic has affected the tourism industry of developed and developing countries alike wherein the vulnerable societies have been hit hardest of all. Seeing the aftermath of the pandemic, the theme gives a call for the inclusive growth of all not leaving behind anyone be that advantaged or disadvantaged. The approach of “inclusive growth” is the way forward for the restart of the industry which has been severely affected or almost halted due to the travel being locked down.
According to the UNWTO impact assessment of the COVID 19 outbreak on international tourism, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) fell by 72% in January-October 2020 over the same period last year. The decline in the first ten months of the year represents 900 million fewer international tourist arrivals compared to the same period in 2019, and translates into a loss of US$ 935 billion in export revenues from international tourism, more than 10 times the loss in 2009 under the impact of the global economic crisis.
In case of Indian, according to the National Council of Applied Economic Research report on Impact of Corona virus on Tourism, the pandemic has caused significant jobs losses in the tourism sector. As per the report 14.5 million jobs were lost during the first quarter, followed by 5.2 million jobs during the second quarter and another 1.8 million jobs during the third quarter of 20-21 that is the time of lockdown imposition.

Impact on Image of Tourism Profession:
The downturn of the employability in tourism sector due to the pandemic has put a negative impact on the general image of the placement scenario of the tourism professional courses in the education sector. Thus, affecting adversely to some extent the professional courses in tourism studies. This creates a need to bring to the fore the significant possibility of the tourism industry i.e it is the most resilient industry as the industry has the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty. This is because the tourism resilience is based on the fact that travel is innate desire of most of us. This is evident from the rise of the domestic tourism when the lockdown was relaxed during the pandemic. Moreover, there is need to realize that humanity has faced many pandemics before too. The pandemic is not going to remain forever. Students who are doing various degree courses in Hospitality and Tourism and other related degrees in these need not to loose confidence due to the sudden dip that is being experienced by these sectors. This is primarily because the present government of India is giving high priority to the hospitality and tourism sectors and has been taking various initiatives which are remarkable to enhance the resilience capacity of the tourism industry.

Various Initiatives:

1) Deko Anpa Desh
India also earmarks a day as National Tourism Day which falls on 25th January. This year the theme of the National Tourism Day was “Deko Apna Desh”. The ministry of Tourism, Government of India organized several seminars around this theme between January 21 to February 22, 2021. The Dekho Apna Desh Pledge campaign was launched by the Union Ministry of Tourism in January 2020 under which tourists who visit at least 15 tourism hotspots will be awarded with an exciting prize.

2) SAATHI (System for Assessment, Awareness & Training for the Hospitality Industry)-
Ministry of Tourism has partnered with the Quality Council of India (QCI) to assist the hospitality industry in their preparedness to continue operations safely and mitigate risks arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, through an initiative called SAATHI.

3) NIDHI (National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry)-
NIDHI empowers business using technology. This is National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry. This initiative gives a way to various opportunities for the Hospitality Industry. Registration with NIDHI ensures electronic delivery of various services and benefits to the hospitality unit. It also serves as a platform for the Hospitality organisations to ideate, share best practices and connect with the Government for ease of doing business.

4) Partnership with OTAs (Online Travel Agencies)-
The Ministry of Tourism in its ongoing efforts to strengthen the Hospitality & Tourism Industry especially in the times of the pandemic, has signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MakeMyTrip and Ibibo, Easy my Trip, Clear trip and

FICCI’s 2nd Travel, Tourism & Hospitality e-Conclave: Resilience & The Road to Recovery,
FICCI’s second virtual edition of Travel, Tourism & Hospitality E Conclave: The Road to Recovery & Resilience, was on August 5 and 6, 2021. The objectives of the conclave were to create a plan of action to revive Travel, Tourism & Hospitality in the country, to connect the industry leaders & policy makers digitally to ideate, network and share knowledge, to prepare a blueprint on building confidence among industry and tourists, to plan on sensitizing the stakeholders on COVID preparedness, to focus on various key aspects like technology, skill development, sustainability, mobility etc that could play an important role in the coming future and to prepare a whitepaper after the conclave collating all important points of discussion.

5) Tourism Corpus-
FAITH(Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality) is the policy federation of all the national associations representing the complete tourism, travel and hospitality industry of India (ADTOI, ATOAI, FHRAI, HAI, IATO, ICPB, IHHA, ITTA, TAAI, TAFI) announced India Tourism Vision Day on 8th October 2020. FAITH in December 2020 urged the government to set up a targeted tourism transition corpus to make funds available for the Indian tourism, travel and hospitality industry till the COVID-19 vaccine is deployed.

6) New National Tourism Policy-
G Kishan Reddy who is presently Union Cabinet Minister of Culture, Tourism and Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Govt of India said “The government is in the process of drafting a new National Tourism Policy in India”. “Once we adopt the new policy it will be helpful, particularly for the stakeholders.”

7) Deemed Export and Infrastructure Status-
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in its budget recommendations submitted to the finance ministry suggested ” Tourism services provided to foreign tourists in India on receipt of foreign exchange should be treated as “deemed export” and exemption of GST should be made available” . It further suggested that infrastructure status be granted to the hotel industry under Income Tax Act.

8) Tourism industry in the Concurrent List of Indian Constitution-
The Ministry of Tourism has taken up the issue of inclusion of tourism in the Concurrent list of the constitution of India. This initiative is an important move to help the recovery of the sector after the adverse impact of the COVID pandemic. Inclusion in the concurrent list will enable centre and states to formulate the effective policies for the growth of the tourism sector and effectively regulate the sector.

9) Swadesh Darshan Scheme-
Swadesh Darshan Scheme was launched in 2014-15 by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India. It focuses on theme-based tourist circuits in the country. Under this scheme 15 thematic circuits have been identified. The different 15 theme based identified circuits include Buddhist circle, Coastal circle, Desert circle, Eco circle,Heritage circle,Himalayan circle,Krishna circle, North-East circle, Ramayana circle, Rural circle, Spiritual circle, Sufi circle, Tirthankar circle ,Tribal circle and Wildlife circle.
There are other initiatives as well :
a) Draft National Strategy and Roadmap for Sustainable Tourism with focus on ecotourism.
b) Inclusion of Dholvira and Rudeswara Temple in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
c) Indian Institute of Heritage at Noida, Gautam Buddha Nagar.

10) Free Tourist Visa-

In June 2021, Finance Minister , GoI, Nirmala Sitharaman announced to issue free tourist visa for 5 lakh tourists. This facility is available only once per tourist. The scheme will be applicable till 31st march,2022 or till 5 lakh visas are issued, whichever is earlier.
Draft National Strategy and Roadmap for Development of Rural Tourism in India
India as MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) destination
TRT scheme provides an opportunity to the foreign tourists to purchase goods during their stay on payment of GST and obtain refund of the GST so paid, at the time of exit from the country.
PRASHAD scheme was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in the year 2014-15 with the objective of integrated development of identified pilgrimage and heritage destinations.
G Kishan Reddy (The Minister for Tourism, Culture, and Development of North Eastern Regio) has said that the Covid 19 vaccination crossing the landmark of 50 crore doses would serve as a huge confidence booster for Tourism. Indeed, its true as the vaccination enhances confidence in venturing out at leisure.