India is a large market for travel and tourism. It offers a diverse portfolio of niche tourism products - cruises, adventure, medical, wellness, sports, MICE, eco-tourism, film, rural and religious tourism. India has been recognized as a destination for spiritual tourism for domestic and international tourists. In March 2019, Rs 720 crore had been allocated by Uttar Pradesh towards strengthening the infrastructure for tourism.
Total contribution by travel and tourism sector to India’s GDP is expected to increase from Rs 15.24 trillion (US$ 234.03 billion) in 2017 to Rs 32.05 trillion (US$ 492.21 billion) in 2028. India was ranked 7th among 184 countries in terms of travel & tourism’s total contribution to GDP in 2017. Travel and tourism is the third largest foreign exchange earner for India. During 2018, FEEs from tourism increased 4.70 per cent year-on-year to US$ 28.59 billion. Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) increased 5.20 per cent year-on-year to 10.56 million in the same period. Foreign tourist arrivals for medical purpose increased from 427,014 in 2016 to 495,056 in 2017(P). During 2018, arrivals through e-tourist visa increased 39.60 per cent year-on-year to 2.37 million. During May 2019, arrivals through e-tourist visa increased by 21.70 per cent year-on-year to 1.23 million.
As of 2017-18, 81.1 million people are employed in the tourism sector in India which was 12.38 per cent of total employment in the country. The Government of India has set a target of 20 million foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) by 2020 and double the foreign exchange earnings as well.
The launch of several branding and marketing initiatives by the Government of India such as ‘Incredible India!’ and ‘Athiti Devo Bhava’ has provided a focused impetus to growth. The Indian government has also released a fresh category of visa - the medical visa or M visa, to encourage medical tourism in the country. Incredible India 2.0 campaign was launched in September 2017. In September 2018, the Indian government launched the ‘Incredible India Mobile App’ to assist the traveller to India and showcase major experiences for travelling. The Government of India is working to achieve one per cent share in world's international tourist arrivals by 2020 and two per cent share by 2025.
In October 2018, Statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, also known as ‘Statue of Unity’, was inaugurated as a tourist attraction. It is the tallest statue in the World standing at a height of 182 metre. It is expected to boost the tourism sector in the country and put India on the world tourism map. In February 2019, the visiting hours has been increased by two more hours and has been equipped with e-bike tours.
The Government has also been making serious efforts to boost investments in tourism sector. In the hotel and tourism sector, 100 per cent FDI is allowed through the automatic route. A five-year tax holiday has been offered for 2, 3 and 4 star category hotels located around UNESCO World Heritage sites (except Delhi and Mumbai). Total FDI received by Indian hotel & tourism sector was US$ 12.35 billion between April 2000 and March 2019. India is a large market for travel and tourism. It offers a diverse portfolio of niche tourism products - cruises, adventure, medical, wellness, sports, MICE, eco-tourism, film, rural and religious tourism. India has been recognized as a destination for spiritual tourism for domestic and international tourists.