Tourism And Aviation Need New Vision In India
India, everyone claims, has great scope and potential for tourism and aviation and culture which are interwoven and related to common missions. Tourism is also the most important driver of growth and job creation. Growth of tourism depends on functioning of entire circuit of foreign marketing, availability of flights and entire gamut of reception and hospitality. We have to make policies not in compartments but holistically so that all these sectors are knitted in single mission of promoting tourism in the country. It is depressing to analyse and realise that the country has lagged behind in this vital area and is doing much below the expectations. It needs policy formulation and redirection of the sector with vision and innovation.
Let us consider following dimensions of our performance:
- In global competitiveness report we are at the rank 55 out of 144 countries while countries like Barbados, Chile, Tunisia and such others are ranked above India. China gets 55 million tourists and we get hardly 6 million.
- India is ranked 7th in cultural and heritage tourism resource, but it is at the bottom of ten countries who have high tourism for heritage and cultural tourism by World Economic Forum.
- The shortage of rooms and high incidence of tariff is attributed to high taxation of 16 per cent on room 16 per cent on food and 23 per cent on liquor. China has flat 5 per cent in each sector and Thailand and Singapore 7 per cent in three areas.
- Hotel accommodation is in short supply and for enhanced tourism considering hotel as export industry could help.
- Let us consider following in aviation sector which is in worse situation:
- According to ICAO $100 spent on aviation gives benefits worth $325 and 100 jobs. We have grown from 1990 when we had 100 aircraft to 735 in 2010 yet our aviation performance is poor. Air India the national carrier has already incurred loss of Rs 1100 crore.
- Indian airlines all combined are not able to use more than 40 per cent capacity of seats allocated to them in foreign flights. All three airlines of India are wasting capacities and seats.
- Gulf sector airlines are dominating aviation in India carrying 8.5 million passengers.
- Rules which limit foreign flying to Indian airlines who have been functioning for 5 years and have 20 aircrafts also are impediment in growth.
- In spite of dramatic though late improvements in airports that are good, city side management of the airports needs much more improvement.
- The connectivity of difficult terrain sites like Himachal and the North-east have not received much attention. GPS landing could be introduced to reduce costs of airport and flying for passenger in such small strips.
- The small city connectivity by small airlines in hub and spoke model could only achieve it and promotion of small airlines especially with likely development of an indigenous plane of 60 seats could help. Nepal is an example of more than 30 airports airstrips where the tourist network of the country and movement is woven by such concept.
- Perspective planning on network of airports like airstrips with small aircraft as perfected by Nepal could bring more connectivity.
The biggest issue is that thought process and policy-making need to be broad based and limited to departmental thinking. Professionals and experts who are outside the pay-roll of government sector and who could offer expertise based on experience and skill should be utilised.
FACT is the first independent private think tank that shall try to fill the gap between officialdom’s file based thinking and required global creative planning. New areas like cultural discoveries, medical tourism, educational/philosophical/yoga packages, art tourism, innovative ideas must replace worn-out Incredible India by-line.
Government and industry along with the users must join hands to create new policies and paradigms of development and it should not be left to monopoly of a few in corridors of Nagarik udyan Mantralya.
(The author is former Chairman, International Airports Authority)
By NK singh