India has 28 world heritage sites and 25 bio-geographic zones. India provides diverse offerings such as adventure, rural and wildlife tourism. Leisure travel constitutes over 70 per cent of the total spend on tourism in India.
The tourism and hospitality sector's direct contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011 was US$ 35.2 billion. Over the period 2006-12, direct contribution is expected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.6 per cent.
Over 6.3 million foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) were reported in 2011, expanding at CAGR of 8.2 per cent during 2005-11. FTAs for the first six months of 2012 stood at 3.2 million. The total foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) from tourism in India was estimated at over US$ 16 billion in 2011. FEEs from tourism increased at a CAGR of 14.1 per cent during 2005-11. During the first half of 2012 FEEs from tourism in India reached US$ 8.5 billion.
Strong growth in per capita income in the country is driving the domestic tourism market. A shift in demographics with rising young population (coupled with changing lifestyles) is leading to greater expenditure on leisure services. The tourism policy of Government of India (GOI) aims at speedy implementation of tourism projects, development of integrated tourism circuits, special capacity building in the hospitality sector and new marketing strategies.
The presence of world-class hospitals and skilled medical professionals make India a preferred destination for medical tourism. Medical tourism could earn India US$ 2.2 billion per year by 2012. Tour operators are teaming up with hospitals to tap this market.