Monday, December 25, 2006

Tourism Potential

The New York Times has an interesting statistic- New York City attracted close to 7 million foreign tourists while 4 million foreign tourists visited India in 2005. Every Indian knows the huge potential for tourism in India. If we can attract 30 million tourists to India and assuming a per person spending of $2500 (which I believe is very modest), that works out to a $75 billion earning opportunity! And thats not even counting domestic tourism, which is very huge.

There seems to be very little initiative from the government in realizing this tremendous opportunity. There are several things which I can think of that the government can do-

-Promote India as a great place to travel abroad; the Indian consulates at various countries that have been identified as having potential should advertise in the media; they should ensure that applying for a tourist visa is hassle free and obtaining information about India is easy
-Encourage setting up budget hotels in India; many travelers prefer a place that provides a clean bed and bathroom instead of anything more fancy; govt. should lease the huge land holding the railways have to hotel developers and provide tax breaks for them
-It will be a huge help if the staff at the airports, railway stations and other places where tourists need to deal with govt. agencies are trained to be customer friendly

Many more suggestions can be added to this list. I believe we have many advantages built into our democratic way of life that if we can take care of a few important factors such as those mentioned above, India will be a natural tourist destination even without heavy advertising and promotion. I am sure it is not difficult for the govt. to realize that tourism has the potential of increasing the quality of life for millions of Indians.

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