The Journey So Far

The Modi government has reiterated, in the new budget, that 17 sites in the country would be developed as world-class tourism destinations. An estimated 20 million Indians go abroad on vacation every year. PM Modi has urged this group to visit 15 destinations in the country by 2022 to give a fillip to domestic tourism.

Work is on to introduce a five-year electronic tourist visa

Tourism minister Prahlad Singh Patel has taken feedback from the ambassadors of various countries to understand the concerns of their tourists while visiting India

The government announced the opening of 137 peaks in J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim for mountaineering

The stall in Gujarat’s Vadnagar where PM Modi sold tea in his younger days will be converted into a tourist spot

Is It Enough?

Foreign tourist arrivals jumped 5.4 percentage points within a year, to 721,015 in June 2019 from 683,928 in June 2018, according to tourism ministry figures. While the Modi government did well on policy initiatives in the past five years, the plans did not get the requisite financial push. The trend continues in the second term as well. The ministry is seeking Rs 5,000 crore over five years for the development of 17 iconic sites. The budget, though, has not made any specific allocation for it. Of the total estimated spend of

Rs 27,86,349 crore in 2019-20, the budget allocated Rs 2,189 crore, or 0.07 per cent, for the development of tourism. In the absence of a concerted and coordinated effort from the states, infrastructure, connectivity and safety remain a concern for international tourists.

The Unfinished Agenda

Increase budgetary allocation

Draw a plan with states to improve tourism infrastructure

Build a cohesive structure for effective coordination among the stakeholder ministries, such as roads, railways, aviation, forests, urban and rural development

Improve connectivity between major tourist centres; create PPP models to involve private players

Improve safety and cleanliness at tourism sites; link central funds with the states’ performance in these areas

Run an awareness drive through India’s missions abroad and social media to woo tourists

Create dedicated banks for the tourism industry, offering easy loans to local stakeholders, such as homestay-owners

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