“The one land that all
men desire to see and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not
give the glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe
combined”: Mark Twain on India. The usage 'incredible India' brings to
mind a plethora of unique images--ranging from the snow-capped mountains
of Himalayas in the north, unsparing expanses of deserts of the west,
tropical rainforests and exotic flora of the east and panoramic lakes,
beaches and monsoon rains of the south; besides this, a range of
historic, cultural and heritage sites, the torch bearers of the
diversity of a country which boasts of centuries-old legacy.
This mixed bag of experiences makes India 'incredible' and a paradise
which is much sought after by global tourists. While many other
countries offer one or other monolithic experience of holidaying for a
tourist, India opens the portals to diversified experiences of climate,
geography, culture, art, literature, ethnicity and food.
And the government's various plans to market our incredible legacy,
heritage and nature seems to have achieved its results. The increased
footfall of foreign tourists and revenue growth in terms of Foreign
Exchange Earnings (FEEs) is a clear proof for that.
An inclusive and sustainable growth of economy and revenue, employment
generation, foreign investment and fostering of cultural ties are some
of the objectives the government is targeting to achieve through its new
tourism policies and programmes.
The Evolution of Tourism in India:
India has been an attraction for foreign travelers, tourists and traders
since centuries ago. The sub-continent’s constant contact with other
countries, civilisations and people are very much evident in our
cultural diversity indicators including language, customs, festivities,
music, dance, art and so on.
However, the tourism sector did not get much attention in the initial
years after Independence as tourism those days could not be perceived as
a huge revenue earning industry.
One of the first significant episodes in the history of Indian tourism
was the formation of the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC),
in 1966. The core objective for its establishment was to develop tourist
infrastructure and services. Similar organizations were set up in the
The tourism activities and policy initiatives in the sector got a real
momentum in the country after 1980s. It was in 1982, thirty five years
after independence, that a National Policy on Tourism was announced in
India for the first time. The country’s plans of hosting Asian Games in
this year and the prospective arrival and accommodation and
entertainment of large number of people from outside had triggered
serious debates on tourism in the country. This general interest and
debates on tourism had been translated into the first National Policy on
Tourism which provided an action plan for the development of the sector.
India’s changed global image- from a land of slums and poverty to a
developing country and emerging economic super power- accelerated the
inflow of foreign tourists to the country in the later decades.
During NDA’s first term, the Government of India came out with a new
Tourism Policy in 2002 with the objective of “positioning tourism as a
major engine of economic growth and to harness its direct and multiplier
effects for employment and poverty eradication in an environmentally
The Incredible India:
The soul of ‘incredible India’ lies in its unity in diversity. India
offers variety of experience to travelers at one go as each part of the
country gives them identifiable difference from the rest of the nation.
The northern part of the country may offer them mountain experience to
the core from gigantic peaks to snow-covered valleys while the sprawling
coastlines of the south may give a breathtaking contrast experience of
beaches, lakes and riversides.
The Andaman and Nicobar islands or the Lakshadweep archipelago offer a
unique experience of marine life and pristine beauty of islands.
Participation in ‘Kumbha mela’, one of the largest religious gatherings
in the world, may give a rare glimpse and first-hand experience on the
centuries-old religious tradition of the country.
Annual literary festivals, held across the length and breadth of the
country, offer a clear picture of the art and literary tradition.
Thus, exotic destinations, rustic country sides, vibrant festivities,
harmonious co-existence of different faiths, colourful attires and
ethnic cuisines make India a wondrous land for a global holidayer.
New policies and programmes:
The experience of diversity, economical holiday destinations, special
brand images of places and private and foreign investments have also
contributed to the growth of tourist inflow from other countries into
The introduction of ‘Niche Tourism Products’ to expand and diversify the
tourism prospects and make the country a 365 days destination has given
an impetus to the increased inflow. Eco & Wildlife Tourism, MICE Tourism
(MICE – Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events), Sustainable
Tourism, Cruise Tourism, Golf Tourism, Polo Tourism, Medical Tourism and
Wellness Tourism are some among such niche products.
The introduction of ‘Visa on Arrival’ (VoA) and ‘e-Tourist Visa’ have
also accelerated the Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs). According to
official figures, the number of FTAs in May, 2017 was 6.30 lakh as
compared to FTAs of 5.27 lakh in May, 2016 and 5.09 lakh in May, 2015.
The Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) during the period January- May 2017
were Rs. 74,008 crore with a growth of 19.2%.
The government's focus on new areas like spiritual tourism and
pilgrimage tourism is also expected to tap the potential of the sector
further and increase the inflow of visitors. The Government has also
launched the scheme Swadesh Darshan with a view to develop circuits
having tourist potential in a planned and prioritized manner. Swadesh
Darshan aims at promoting cultural and heritage values of the country.
With the increasing clout of the country as it is poised to become an
economic superpower of the world, it is hoped that India is visited by
more and more people in the years to come.
* Author is a senior
journalist, columnist and editor of a history web portal. He served as
the News Editor of Mathrubhumi Daily.
Views expressed in the article is author’s personal.
(The Feature has been contributed by PIB Trivandrum)