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I was looking at data produced by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Quite an interesting read, and on digesting the data one was left with a bout of indigestion. I concluded that India has been extremely negligent over many decades in how it has failed to take advantage of tourism. The wealth that could have come into the country would have been astronomical and equates literally to billions. Let me elaborate a little more, below you will see the top ten countries for attracting tourism in Asia and the Pacific (UNWTO: 2011 data):
|3||Hong Kong||22.32 million|
|7||South Korea||9.80 million|
China is the only comparable country within striking distance of India yet it attracts more than nine times what India manages to attract. Interestingly the world average for expenditure by tourist is about $1000 per person. However, and surprisingly, in India tourists spend is about $2700 per person. Based on this information and with some crude calculations on my abacus, one can say that India attracts about $17b through tourism. For China let’s use the much lower figure of $1000 per person which is the norm for the world. We conclude that it attracts just under $58b through tourism. Therefore in terms of monetary impact alone, China attracts 3.5 times more than India.
My point being that even with the shabby infrastructure and the dereliction in keeping our national monuments trim and proper, India is still raking it in since expenditure per person is almost 3 times more than the world norm. Can you imagine what it could raise if it had tourism on the same scale as China? Well let’s work it out. If India attracted 58 million tourists per year and they each spent on average $2700 – that gives us a grand total of just under $157b. Now that in anyone’s book must be worth some serious consideration.
To get an overall idea let’s look at the top ten tourist destinations in the world:
|1||France||Europe||79.5 million||77.1 million||+3.0%|
|2||United States||North America||62.3 million||59.8 million||+4.2%|
|3||China||Asia||57.6 million||55.7 million||+3.4%|
|4||Spain||Europe||56.7 million||52.7 million||+7.6%|
|5||Italy||Europe||46.1 million||43.6 million||+5.7%|
|6||Turkey||Europe||29.3 million||27.0 million||+8.7%|
|7||United Kingdom||Europe||29.2 million||28.3 million||+3.2%|
|8||Germany||Europe||28.4 million||26.9 million||+5.5%|
|9||Malaysia||Asia||24.7 million||24.6 million||+0.6%|
|10||Mexico||North America||23.4 million||23.3 million||+0.5%|
|Note: UNWTO World Tourism Barometer|
Yes I am sure all of you would have been surprised that France is indeed the top destination for world tourism. India can learn of best practice very quickly just by opening those eyes and looking around. It isn’t rocket science to market a country like India with its rich history, multi-cultures, multi-languages, grandeur of dance styles, excellence in music, depth in literature, majestic historical monuments, abundance of religious buildings, intriguing and exiting cities, rural beauty, the hill stations, the Himalayan backdrop, the truly inspirational and tasty cuisine, the symphony of festivals and not forgetting, the glitter and glamour of Bollywood. The list is endless and yet with all these riches collected over many millennia, the Governance of the country has failed to understand the huge positive impact tourism can make not only to the economy of the country, but also of exporting the very essence of what makes India, India.
On the world level in 2011 there were some 990 million international tourists recorded and by the end of 2012 this figure had crossed the one billion mark. Given India has some 18% of the world’s population; surely it should try and attract at least 18% of the world tourism market. If that were true then some 180 million tourist would be flocking to India each and every year. Each one spending about $2700 and that in my book is equivalent to inward cash flow of nearly $500 billion. Folks, surely this represents a prize worthy of a whole nation waking up and rising to the challenge. Kalpavriksha tourism is about an ever giving tree of abundance, it just needs the wise to receive with grace.
So if India does not wake up or is unwilling to grasp this huge opportunity – then I ask Narendrabhai Modi to make Gujarat the tourist destination of choice when people come to India. Let Gujarat enhance what it has and create the infrastructure that can support such a vision. Let Gujarat lead by example as it does so on many other fronts currently. I am certain that once Gujarat shows the billions of dollars coming into its economy, other states will wake up and follow suit. As Bapuji said, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’, so let one state become the change that will ignite the touch paper of change throughout India. Gujarat – are you ready? Rise ye lions of Garvi Gujarat, it is time once again to champion a future for your country.