India has 28 World Heritage Sites and 25 bio-geographic zones. The country's big coastline is dotted with a number of attractive beaches. India ranked 13th among 184 countries in terms of travel and tourism's total contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013. The sector's direct contribution to GDP is expected to grow at 6.4 per cent per annum during 2014-2024 vis-à-vis the world average of 4.2 per cent.
Over 6.8 million foreign tourist arrivals were reported in 2013. Foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.2 per cent during 2005-2013. By 2024, FTAs are expected to increase to 13.42 million. Total foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) from tourism grew to US$18.1 billion in 2013. FEEs increased at a CAGR of 11.7 per cent during 2005-2013.
The Government of India has set up a Hospitality Development and Promotion Board, which will monitor and facilitate hotel project clearances/approvals. It has also approved US$ 2.8 billion under the 12th Five-Year Plan for the development of tourism infrastructure projects, including rural tourism and human resource development projects.
Strong growth in per capita income in the country is driving the domestic tourism market. A shift in demographics with a rising young population is leading to greater expenditure on leisure services. The presence of world-class hospitals and skilled medical professionals makes India a preferred destination for medical tourism. India's earnings from medical tourism could exceed US$ 3.9 billion in 2014 from US$ 1.9 billion in 2011. Tour operators are teaming up with hospitals to tap this market.