Parliamentary Committee recommends govt to formulate promotional strategy to position India as a favoured tourism destination

ANI News, February 3, 2022

New Delhi [India], February 3 (ANI): Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has recommended the government to formulate an integrated marketing and promotional strategy to position India as a favoured tourism destination in the tourism generating markets overseas.

The Committee has also suggested that the Ministry of Transport, Tourism and Culture should adopt a strategy to increase India’s share of the global tourism market from the present 1.24 per cent to 5 per cent in the years to come.

The recommendation was submitted in the ‘Three Hundred Thirteenth Report on Promotion of Indian Tourism in Overseas Markets-Role of Overseas Tourist Offices and Indian Embassies”. The report was laid in both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha on Thursday. The report was adopted by the Committee on January 31.
In its recommendation, the Committee said, it is of the firm view that focussed marketing and promotion efforts go a long way in promoting the growth of inbound tourism to India.

“The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Ministry should formulate an integrated marketing and promotional strategy to position India as a favoured tourism destination in the tourism generating markets overseas and increase India’s share of the global tourism market from the present 1.24 per cent to 5 per cent in the years to come,” mentions the report.

“The Committee feels that one of the effective steps in this direction would be re-casting the website of the Ministry in an attractive and user-friendly manner.”

The modern tourism industry is a key driver of socio-economic growth through the creation of jobs, infrastructure development and the export revenues earned because it has the potential to stimulate other sectors through its backward and forward leakages and cross-sectoral synergies with airlines, transport, basic infrastructure, agriculture and handicrafts.

Despite vast tourism resources in the form of its unique endowments of biodiversity and rich culture and heritage, India’s total share in International Tourist Arrivals remains a modest 1.24 per cent, which is certainly below India’s huge potential.

The Committee observes that one of the major reasons for India”s Inbound Tourism remaining grossly under-utilized has been the high rates and multiplicity of taxes that deter inbound tourism and have led to tourist packages being outpriced vis-a-vis those in competing tourist destinations of other countries.

The tax structure applicable to hotel accommodation, air travel, food and beverages consumption, etc., not only leads to tourist packages being overpriced but also obstructs the seamless flow of tourists to our historical sites, reads the report.

The Committee notes that despite Inbound Tourism being a major foreign exchange earner with foreign exchange earnings of Rs 2,11,661 crore in 2019, the taxes levied on inbound tourism are among the highest in the country.

The Committee, therefore, recommends that the tax regime applicable to the travel and tourism sector be reviewed holistically so that with suitable amendments India can convert its comparative natural and economic advantages into competitive advantages for the tourism sector, the report says.

The Committee desires to be kept apprised of the steps taken and the result achieved in this regard and takes note of the written submissions of the Ministry of Tourism that “In order to forge a partnership with Indian Missions for Inbound Tourism and ensure effective implementation, a detailed framework has been evolved covering the vision and objectives, key strategic areas and governance of the institutional arrangements.”

The Committee also takes note of the key strategies envisaged by the Ministry for promotion of inbound tourism like a holistic approach to it, country-specific strategic plans, promotion of Medical and Wellness Tourism and promotion of MICE Tourism.
The Committee welcomes these developments but would like the Ministry to undertake concurrent and impact evaluation of these strategies.

Surveys may also be conducted periodically in important source markets for India to assess the impact of the publicity campaigns on the decision of foreign tourists to visit India, the perception of the foreign tourists about the various facilities at tourist destinations, the preference of foreign tourists about the tourism products and destinations.

The Committee observes that Souvenir shops selling miniatures of historical monuments are very popular among tourists in foreign countries. However, this sort of souvenir shops are very scanty in India. The Committee would, therefore, recommend that the Government ought to take initiatives to help establish genuine outlets for the sale of miniature replicas of historical monuments near such monuments.

The Committee notes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has mooted three 3-Ts– Trade, Tourism and Technology– to boost Indian economic diplomacy and suggested that the functioning of Indian Missions and embassies should be judged from their ability to inter alia boost tourist inflows.

The Committee also takes note of the submission made by Secretary (ER), Ministry of External Affairs before it that his Ministry will be closely working with the Ministry of Tourism to ensure greater progress in the promotion of tourism and observes that apart from providing foreign exchange and mass employment, the tourism sector has an economically beneficial cascading impact on other associated industry segments and, therefore, the Ministry of External Affairs in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism and stakeholders needs to move quickly towards reworking India’s strategy on attracting foreign tourists to the country and help unleash the true potential of the tourism sector in India.

The Committee desires to be kept apprised of the progress made in this regard and also recommends that Indian Ambassadors as leaders of Indian Missions abroad, must set targets for the growth of Indian tourism in key markets across the world with the objective of increasing foreign tourist arrivals to the country and increasing the share of India in World Tourist Arrivals. The Committee desires to be kept apprised of the specific steps taken in this direction.
The Committee notes that on a request from the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of External Affairs has appointed dedicated tourist officers in 20 Indian Missions abroad, which are key tourism source markets or potential markets for India.

The Committee welcomes this step but exhorts the Government to create convergence and synergy among various ministries and stakeholders so that brand “Incredible India” can be promoted more effectively. The Committee would like to be apprised of the efficacy of appointing dedicated tourism officers in Indian Missions and embassies in showcasing and promoting the tourism destinations of the country in source markets. (ANI)

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