By Dripto Mukhopadhyay
Continuing on the thread left on the last blog post, this one tries to establish with further evidence that Indian domestic tourism can play crucial role in tourism development. I have presented two figures in this blog post. The first one shows how the domestic tourism is growing in the country along with the actual increase in number of domestic tourists from the year 1997 till latest. The other figure presents number of domestic tourists in an index form. A few important features that emerge from the first figure are:
- growth rates fluctuates from year to year due to several reasons; however, it generally maintains a high growth especially in 2000s.
- except 2008, the odd year affected by global recession, the growth rate is mostly over 10% since 2000.
- the actual increase in number of domestic tourists in the country further establishes the contribution of domestic tourists to the country’s tourism activities.
- substantial increase in actual increase has been noticed in 2000s compared to the previous decade
- in most of the years in 2000s the actual increases were over 50 million each year, which is a significant addition to the tourism market
- 2009 experienced an increase to the extent of 87 million, despite the fact that economic recovery in the country from global recession was not really visible till the later part of the year. This also suggests the potential of domestic tourism with vibrant growth years
Figure 2 further highlights the need for paying due attention to the domestic tourism in the country. The graph shows the number of domestic tourists in an index form. Year 1997 has been considered as the base year with an index value of 100. A gradual increase has been clearly depicted by the graph over the years and in 2009 the index value reached to 407. This suggests that within a span of about 12 years the domestic tourism has been increased by more than four folds, which is amazingly high compared to any standard. A simple exponential time trend suggests that in another 5 years, by 2014, the total domestic tourists will reach about 1200 million.
The above points suggest the need for a few important issues that essentially to be addressed by the policy makers to further enrich the tourism activities in the country.
- tourism products should be developed considering the fact the major chunk of the tourism activity will be generated from domestic tourists
- a market segmentation is the need of the hour to understand the requirements as well as develop tourism products catering to these needs
- proper strategy can be developed by the stakeholders to attract domestic tourists from different segments (demographic as well as psycho graphic and others)
- awareness can be developed amongst the tourists towards sustainable tourism so that environmental footprints can be minimized.
To continue the discussion, I will discuss about the tourism market segmentation and its importance to shape a proper tourism market, especially, keeping sustainable tourism development in mind.
Note: The data used for this article was taken from Tourism Statistics at a Glance 2009.
By Dripto Mukhopadhyay
Since the time I developed my interests in sustainable tourism development, about a decade by now, one small but million dollar question often bothers me that how exactly an intricate mechanism can be framed so that sustainable tourism development can happen in true sense. It does not only involve a few policy perspectives, but actually much beyond it. Policy prescriptions are not enough for his since it requires deliberate and concerted efforts from each of the stakeholders that include tourists, hoteliers, government mechanisms, local population and anyone else who may have some role to play in tourism activities. We see some of the activities (I am talking in terms of Indian context) on part of the central government as well as state governments where attempts are made to aware people regarding tourists attractions at various locations in the country. But, many of them are targeted towards foreign tourists rather than domestic tourists. Amongst these the prominent ones are taking part in fairs and other events in various countries to promote incredible India as one of the dream destinations. Similar efforts are mostly missing in the domestic market. The government mechanisms, tour operators, others in the hospitality sector only focus on increasing number of tourists to the locations of their interests. Hardly any Do’s and Dont’s and the reasons behind the same are conveyed to the potential customers. The only visible impact normally seen in some of the places of interests are imposition of an extra fee for those who intend to visit the place. As expected as a consequence of imposing a higher than usual fee is expression of annoyance towards paying such fees. Perhaps this may be avoided completely if the tourists are also made aware of how that fee would be used for preservation and maintenance purpose of the place and why some other restrictions are also imposed. Awareness generation about the need of a participatory tourism rather than being a mere visitor to the place can play a crucial role towards this. This also raises the question that who should be the priority target for such awareness generation and why.
The simple answer to the question is that the priority should be decided based on the extent of impact on the tourism sector. The following visual (Fig 1) presents the number of domestic tourist visits and foreign tourist visits to all places in India. It also presents the ratio between these two indicators.
The graph clearly depicts a crucial factor for Indian tourism sector. Throughout the years, the domestic tourist visits are significantly higher than foreign tourist visits and its increasing with time. The ratio between these two variables shows that till 2002 it increased continuously and reached the peak when the visits by domestic tourists were 52 times of that of the foreign visits. However, it gradually tapered down to about 40 times for some years and again in 2009 it was about 47 times. Of course the higher ratio for 2009 is an outcome of economic recessions which may be ignored as an exception year of the trend. But, still the domestic visits are at such a higher level compared to the international visits that one can easily conclude that the impact from the former will be much above that from the later. Apart from that, awareness levels of the foreign tourists are in general higher compared to the domestic tourists. Thus efforts in increasing awareness of the domestic tourists towards sustainable tourism development through tourism fairs, advertisements, online materials and other media could prove effective in eradicating several problems that are created by the tourists themselves. However, apart from the tourists, other stakeholders such as hoteliers, tour operators etc. along with local people are also needed to be made aware of their important role for sustainable tourism development. Hope at some point of time, everyone in the loop will understand the importance of the same and will change their attitudes proactively in a positive direction which ultimately will benefit all of them.