By Dripto Mukhopadhyay
Last year I posted a blog suggesting that though there is a wide spread effort on part of Min. of Tourism, Government of India to attract foreign tourists, we need to put sincere effort to promote domestic tourism also. To corroborate the same thought, I have put a small analysis using the latest data on Indian tourism. Ministry of Tourism has published “India Tourism Statistics 2010” last month. This includes tourism data pertained to 2010. This is a simple straight forward analysis to suggest that the strength of domestic tourists are so great that a proper strategy to boost it further might result into generating huge revenue as well as employment generation.
Fig 1 below shows growth rate of domestic and foreign tourists from the year 2001 till 2010. The campaign of Incredible India has significantly increased inbound tourism to India during the 2000s. The graph shows s huge spike, at about 30 per cent, during 2002 and somewhat declining trend growth with a turf during 2009 which was marred with global recession. However, the declining trend was more due to base effect rather than decline in number in foreign tourists. On the contrary, domestic tourists have shown an increase between 10 to 20 per cent through out this period. However, the growth rate of domestic tourists remained lower than the foreign tourists almost during the entire period. (Click on the Fig to view properly)
During the last decade, foreign tourist arrivals to India has increased from 5.5 million to about 18 million. Figure 2 presents the steady increase in number of foreign tourists. (Click on the Fig to view properly)
However, Fig 3 shows the actual contribution of foreign tourists to Indian tourism scenario in terms of number of tourists. Though the domestic tourists have increased substantially lower than foreign tourists, it touches almost 750 million in 2010. (Click on the Fig to view properly)
To make the scenario a little more distinct, share of foreign tourist to total tourists is presented in Fig 4. It shows that through out the period the share of foreign tourists remained stable though the absolute number has increased many folds except a couple of exceptional years due to certain externalities such as economic recession. (Click on the Fig to view properly)
This simple analysis suggests something important for Indian tourism industry. The strategy to attract foreign tourists to the country is beyond question. But, we should not neglect the opportunities to promote domestic tourism also. The potential contribution from domestic tourism can change local economy of of several destinations through generating revenue and employment. However, it is also important that the domestic tourists are made aware of preliminary principles of sustainable tourism. This would lead to benefits for a long term basis instead of short term one.