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 Independence speech from Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to visit 15 domestic tourist destinations in India by 2022 to promote tourism. India was ranked 34th in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019 published by the World Economic Forum.
Total contribution by travel and tourism sector to India’s GDP is expected to increase from Rs 15,24,000 crore (US$ 234.03 billion) in 2017 to Rs 32,05,000 crore (US$ 492.21 billion) in 2028. According to WTTC, India ranked 3rd among 185 countries in terms of travel & tourism’s total contribution to GDP in 2018. During 2018, FEEs from tourism increased 4.70 per cent year-on-year to US$ 28.59 billion. FEEs during the period January-July 2019 were US$ 16.757 billion. International Tourists arrival is expected to reach 30.5 billion by 2028. Foreign tourist arrivals for medical purpose increased from 427,014 in 2016 to 495,056 in 2017(P). During January-July 2019, a total of 15,34,293 tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa registering a growth of 21 per cent.
During January-July 2019, Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) were 60.84 lakh with the growth of 2.1 per cent. In July 2019, Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) were Rs 18,191 crore (US$ 2.64 billion) with the growth of 7.2 per cent from July 2018-July 2019.
Under the Swadesh Darshan and Prashad scheme various projects has been sanctioned of worth Rs 550 crore (US$ 78.70 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.
A web based Public Service Delivery System (PSDS) had been launched by the Ministry of Tourism to enable all the applicants seeking approval for hotel projects and track their applications online on a real time basis. Tourism Ministry is also developing several theme-based tourist circuits of Swadesh Darshan Scheme to promote tourism.
Under Union Budget 2019-20, government introduced a Tax Refund for Tourists (TRT) scheme like in countries such as Singapore to encourage tourists to spend more in India and boost tourism.
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.