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Monday, January 31, 2011

Tourism - An Untapped Opportunity !

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Snow covered mountains, rivers, rice and paddy fields, rain forests, desert, beaches, islands, temples, churches, mosques, forts, palaces, museums, ponds, lakes, valleys, plateaus, ancient cities, towns,modern buildings,music, songs, dance, movies, theater,magicians,languages, dialects, religions and everything in abundance, everywhere, any day, every year and for 1000s of years, Incredible India !!

Lets look at some numbers here -

So Why Tourism, Why not IT or BPO or perhaps high end Pharma/LPO ?

Well the question is not Why not IT/ denying the fact that this industry has played a huge role in transforming the landscape in past 15-20 years, created several jobs etc BUT I believe that the size of Tourism industry which is directly proportional to cultural or geographic diversity has been immensely under performing .

So though we lack on macro economic parameters such as Per Capita GDP or prosperity indicator such as Cars/1000 folks, but definitely there's a huge scope for improvement on increasing the Tourist/Population ratio drastically. I understand that its much easier to run smaller countries like Macau, Tunisia or Malaysia purely based on tourism but still given the diversity of the India, I think we have a huge room for improvement, even if we are able to reach the league of Mexico or South Africa in next 10 years and perhaps Tunisia or Bulgaria in next 20 years, things can/will change drastically.

So What is Needed ?

Franky not much !! We already have the essential ingredients to make India as the most popular tourist destination in the world. All we need is little planning and keep doing what we are planning to do in any case, i.e improve infrastructure, improve public private partnerships and give incentives to the industry to thrive and grow. Based on my gut feeling and some thumb rules I strongly feel that with a little more dedicated efforts considering the tourism industry in mind, the opportunity and the potential to create a significant impact is huge.

The planning - the first thing perhaps would be to break down the Incredible India campaign into pieces, into states, regions etc, let it be sum of parts because India has much more to offer which a foreigner can comprehend in a 30 sec ad !!

The infrastructure - we definitely dont have roads, transportation and elaborate websites. I am not much concerned about hotels and restaurants and recreational activities because I have experienced, witnessed and lived in my small ways the unique entrepreneurial spirit of Indians which will take care of all these aspects beyond what any planning can achieve. But definitely the infrastructure needs a big boost. But the good thing is we need to improve the infrastructure in any case, so no need to tag this expenditure solely under Tourism industry.

The long term potential - the best and perhaps most critical need of the hour - rapid urbanization which is damaging the ecosystem in the villages, which is increasing the pressure on cities indirectly increasing the crime rates in cities, creating unnecessary pressure on infrastructure of cities AND the need to remain connected with what is ours, what is truly Bhartiya, our plural identity, unique to India.

So the employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in this field will have massive trickle down effects on improving the living conditions in rural India, poverty, education and employment. It will be a huge opportunity for ancillary industries such as banking and insurance besides media, entertainment, travel, hospitality and transportation which will be more direct beneficiaries.

Data Sources:
Population - Google
Tourism - Wikipedia Passenger Car - World Bank
Passenger Car - Trading Economics


  1. Good analysis. Also very relevant data.

  2. Thank you Hariharan, hope somebody (including me!!) makes the hay while the sun shines, someday !!


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