A look at the states boosting India’s economy through tourism
National Tourism Day is celebrated annually on January 25 to promote the importance of tourism to the country’s economy. The Day is celebrated to raise awareness in the global community of the importance of tourism and its political, cultural, social and financial growth. This year, the theme for National Tourism Day is “Rural and Community Tourism”.
India has a rich culture of varied traditions, customs and festivals. The terrain, language, and way of life change here every few miles.
It also gives a significant boost to the economy of the nation. According to statistics, more than 7.7% of Indian employees work in the tourism industry.
However, the tourism industry has been hit hard over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. States that are heavily dependent on tourism like Himachal Pradesh, Goa and the northeastern states have suffered huge losses.
In 2020, India’s tourism sector accounted for 31.8 million jobs, or 7.3% of total employment in the country. By 2029, it is expected to contribute around 53 million jobs. The arrival of international tourists is expected to reach 30.5 billion by 2028. The e-Visa service was offered to 171 countries in March 2021. The government introduced a program to boost the tourism sector by providing free tourist visa from one month to 5 lakh tourists until March 31, 2022.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism generated 16.91 lakh crore or 9.2% of India’s GDP in 2018 and supported 42.673 million jobs or 8.1% of its total employment. The sector is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6.9% to reach ₹32.05 lakh crore by 2028 (9.9% of GDP).
Tamil Nadu has the largest tourism industry in India with a percentage share of 21.31% and 21.86% of domestic and foreign tourist visits to the country. According to the Ministry of Tourism’s 2020 report, the number of domestic arrivals was 494.8 million, making it the second most popular tourist destination in India. Foreign arrivals stood at 6.86 million, the highest in the country, making it the most popular Indian state for tourism.
Tamil Nadu has over 4,000 years of continuous cultural history. The state has some of the most remarkable temple architecture in the country and a vibrant tradition of music, folk arts, dance and fine arts. It is also renowned for its temple cities and heritage sites, hill stations, waterfalls, national parks, local cuisine, natural environment and wildlife.
Tamil Nadu, with a GDP of $260 billion, is the country’s second largest economy and tourism is one of its main sources of income. The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, headquartered in the capital Chennai, primarily promotes tourism in the state. The state is a year-round tourist destination and the industry is the largest in the country.
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is a Union Territory (UT) of India, located in the northern part of the country and a global tourist destination. In addition to traditional recreational tourism, there is a wide scope for adventure, pilgrimage, spiritual and health tourism.
The natural beauty and picturesque locations have made it a favorite destination for tourists from all over the world. Jammu is famous for its temples, while the Kashmir valley is known for its lakes and gardens.
In 2019, foreign and domestic tourist arrivals stood at 57,920 and 16.16 million respectively. In September 2020, an economic package of Rs 1,350 crore ($182.83 million) was announced in Jammu and Kashmir to boost tourism and other sectors.
Goa is often known as the “Pearl of the Orient” and the “Beach Capital of India”. Its natural beauty, unique heritage and delightful blend of cultures, along with its friendly and hospitable people, make it perhaps India’s most attractive tourist destination. .
Tourism is the backbone of Goa’s economy, with 40% of the population depending directly or indirectly on it. The tourism mix is dominated by domestic tourists who account for nearly 89% of total tourist arrivals. The peak season from October to December sees nearly half of the annual tourist arrivals, which puts immense pressure on Goa’s ecology, infrastructure and tourism assets.
A new Goa Tourism Policy 2020 has been crafted which offers a unique Goa experience to visitors by showcasing a versatile concoction of historical, natural, ethnic and cultural places and attractions.
In August 2020, Goa received 876,358 domestic tourists and 282,022 foreign tourist arrivals. This was significantly less than the previous year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Rajasthan’s main revenue contributor is tourism and accounts for around 15% of the state’s economy. Rajasthan accounts for nearly 11.2% and 3.3% of foreign and domestic tourist arrivals in India respectively. The state government lowered the luxury tax from 10% to 8% to boost its tourism industry.
The lakes of Udaipur, the palaces of Jaipur, the desert forts of Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer are among the most common destinations for tourists. Many old and neglected forts and palaces have been converted into heritage hotels. Tourism has increased employment in the hospitality sector.
A spin-off from tourism has been the growth of the craft industry. Bassi and Molella villages in Chittorgarh and Rajasamand are famous for their wooden and clay handicrafts respectively. The blue pottery of Jaipur and the ustta Kalan of Bikaner are also famous all over the world. Jodhpur is one of the major handicraft centers in the country, marketing its handicrafts all over the world.
North East India
India’s eight northeastern states are blessed with scenic natural beauty, rich biodiversity, salubrious climate, rare wildlife, historical sites, distinct cultural and ethnic heritage and warm and welcoming residents. The region offers unforgettable tours for tourists interested in wildlife, cultural, religious and ethnic tourism, river cruises, golf among others. There are also great opportunities for trekking, mountaineering and adventure tourism in the region.
Northeast India is home to many wildlife sanctuaries including Kaziranga National Park famous for one-horned rhinoceros, Manas National Park, Orang, Nameri, Dibru Saikhowa in Assam, Balpakram in Meghalaya, Namdhapha in Arunachal Pradesh, Intanki in Nagaland, Keibul Namjao in Manipur, Khangchendzonga in Sikkim. The mighty Brahmaputra flows through Assam where tourists can enjoy memorable river cruises and the rivers of Arunachal Pradesh that feed into the Brahmaputra offer amazing white water rafting experiences.
In 2017, North East India recorded 77 lakh domestic tourists and 1.6 lakh foreign tourists. Even if foreign tourists are ignored, the conservative estimate of the market size ranges between 3,000 to 4,000 crore in revenue per year.
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