India's rich cultural heritage and history, food, friendly people, architectural monuments, hospitality and services are positive strengths for its tourism sector, which make it ahead of many of the emerging markets.
Today, tourism is the most vibrant tertiary sectors and has a strong hold on the economy. The sector contributes 6.23 per cent to the national gross domestic product (GDP) and 8.78 per cent of the total employment in India. Moreover, India stands 42nd in the world rankings in terms of foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in the country, according to a report titled 'Competitiveness of Tourism Sector in India with Selected Other Countries of the World' by Ministry of Tourism. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) named India as one of the fastest growing tourism industries for the next 10 to 15 years.
In addition, India has also developed as one of the world's most cost-efficient medical tourism destinations, and is anticipated that the Indian medical tourism market will register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 per cent during 2011-15, as per a RNCOS report titled 'Booming Medical Tourism in India'.
"India is an extremely important market for IHG, one that we are always looking for the right opportunities to invest in. With international tourism increasing year-on-year and the continued strength of domestic tourism, we see incredible opportunities for growth," said Mr Jan Smits, Chief Executive Officer, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in Asia, Middle East and Africa, who took part in a trade mission to India with Mr David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, to boost trade ties between the two countries.
The amount of foreign direct investments (FDI) inflow into the hotel and tourism sector during April 2000 to January 2013 was worth US$ 6,561.78 million, as per data provided by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce.
FTAs have shown a growth of 2.8 per cent in March 2013 over March 2012 while the growth rate in Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism stood at 21 per cent over the same period in rupee terms. FTA during March 2013 was recorded at 640,000 as compared to 623,000 during the month of March 2012.
The Visa on Arrival (VoA) Scheme of the Government of India has registered a growth of 54.6 per cent in February 2013. A total number of 1,947 VoAs were issued last month as compared to 1,259 VoAs issued in February 2012.