India is a vast country with diverse cultures, rich heritage and varying geographical regions. To state that tourism is an ever-rising and flourishing industry in our nation would not be an exaggeration. In the calendar year of 2019, the tourism industry contributed 6.8% of India’s GDP with revenue of $194 billion. Domestic tourism in India is further divided into several categories like adventure, religious, eco-friendly, medical, wellness, film, MICE and wedding tourism. Along with the rise of digitalization platforms and social media, the travel and tourism industry has grown beyond bounds.
This stands true not only for the international tourists seeking solace in the heart of our country but also for the domestic sightseers looking to spend a few days in the bliss of our national treasures. For the working-class people, domestic tourism is so much more than a much-needed rescue from the very expensive international vacation plans. It gives them a chance to travel via low-cost transport and not have to face the troubles of a language barrier. Whereas in cases of foreign vacations, the cost of just securing a travel visa, flights and hotel accommodation can burn a hole in anyone’s pocket.
The Inevitable Connection Between Digitalization and Travel
The travel industry has always been romanticized for its vivid aspects. Most childhood stories include a fond memory of a road trip to the hill stations or a swim in the ocean on a sunny day. Apart from that, honeymoons have been equated with a pleasant vacation forever. Social media has only added to its charms. If a person does not wish to travel for the sake of curiosity regarding a foreign culture, they long to travel for the Instagram perfect shots or YouTube viral vlogs. Digital platforms and EaseMyTrip have made it simple for people to choose their next destination and take an occasional break from the monotonous work life.
Rise of Domestic Tourism in India
Tourism is a rising trend among people of all age groups and sectors. The growing popularity of regional adventure sports and new destinations have been a massive stride in the development of the tourism industry. Disposable incomes are leading to more staycations and people are more curious to discover the aspects of lifestyle adopted by different cultural groups.
In 2018, the tourism sector was responsible for 9.2% of the domestic economy. The industry was responsible for running households of nearly 42.7 million people and this number is expected to grow to 53 million by 2029, directly or indirectly. India is the 8th largest contributor to the economy when it comes to travel and tourism GDP. Only 865 million people embarked on domestic travel in the year 2011 and by 2016 this figure almost doubled to 1.6 billion.
Steps Taken by Government of India to Promote Domestic Tourism
The eventual growth of the tourism sector is directly responsible for creating new jobs, bringing in new investors and ultimately strengthening the economy of a nation. The government has implemented several schemes and undertaken numerous projects to ensure that the tourism industry is successful.
- PRASHAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive ) Scheme – India is home to numerous religions. People of all faiths and beliefs indulge in pilgrimages and take up travelling to acquaint themselves with the roots of their past. The objective of this scheme is to prioritize heritage tourism in terms of a sustainable manner along with modern amenities. It strengthens the tourism mechanisms and brings security to pilgrimage sites. The budget for the financial year of 2020-21 announced a sum of Rs 207.55 Crore for this scheme.
- Swadesh Darshan Scheme – Introduced by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture in 2014-15, the main objective of the Swadesh Darshan scheme is to oversee the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits. This scheme allows the allotment of funds by the central government to the state government for ensuring economic growth and increased synergy in these tourist circuits. Currently, there are 15 thematic circuits classified under this scheme. In 2019-20, an amount of Rs. 1,854.67 crore was sanctioned for projects under this scheme.
- Reduced Hotel GST – In 2019, the Government decided to lower the GST to 12% for hotel rooms with tariffs between the range of Rs. 1,001 to Rs. 7,500 per night. For above Rs. 7,501, GST was reduced to 18%.
- Dekho Apna Dash – A campaign launched in the form of a webinar series based on famous national travel sites to promote the importance of domestic tourism.
With 37 Heritage sites and 10 zones, India’s Travel and Tourism Industry has great potential if utilized wisely. Online platforms like EaseMyTrip Flights have made it easy to plan a vacation. With an effortless flight booking process and hotel accommodation, there are numerous tour packages that help you achieve your goal of getting familiar with the nation.