BERLIN: Clogged and cracking airports, ageing air traffic control and chronic shortage of hotels, combined with a slow-moving bureaucracy, are cramping India’s emergence as a tourism powerhouse, a new study has said.
Even as international tourist arrivals in India grew last year by 13% to a record 4.4 million, the country’s tourism was hampered by inadequate airport and road infrastructure and lack of adequate rooms, the report published by the Pacific Area Travel Association (PATA) published at the International Tourism Exchange (ITB) here said.
The growth was driven in large part by the successful repositioning of the destination brand through the “incredible India” marketing campaign.
India has become one of the world’s biggest and fast expanding markets, with inbound, domestic and outbound travel setting new growth records last year, said the “Total Tourism India” report of the PATA.
“A strong, consumption-driven economy, increased government focus on tourism promotion, a powerful branding campaign, a rapidly growing and increasingly affluent middle class and the on-going liberalisation of air transport have all contributed to India’s emergence as a tourism powerhouse,” said the 300-page report.
“But significant infrastructure limitations, such as clogged and cracking airports, ageing air traffic control systems and a chronic hotel shortage combined with slow and cumbersome bureaucracy is threatening to slow down India’s ascension,” the report warned.
India was presentated as the ”Partner Country” at the ITB, which is the world’s largest travel trade and tourism fair.
The report, which took a year to compile, proposed a seven-point action plan to boost the tourism sector. It noted that domestic travel in India has been “quietly booming” over the past 15 years, as the states increasingly awaken to home-grown tourism’s potential to stimulate economic growth and boost employment.
Presenting the report at the ITB, the PATA President and CEO Peter de Jong said it highlighted both the incredible opportunity India offers to regional travel industry operators as well as the challenges the country faces in overcoming entrenched problems.
“There is much to be excited about India, particularly now that the government has fully recognised the importance of tourism in delivering economic growth and job creation, especially for the emerging sectors of the work force such as youth and women,” de Jong said.
Nevertheless, India needs to accelerate efforts to improve and expand its infrastructure, particularly airports and roads, broaden its product range, especially in accommodation and increase its competitiveness, he said.
The report commended the five strategic objectives set out by the government for developing the tourism sector as “steps in the right direction”.
These are positioning tourism as a national priority, enhancing India’s competitiveness as a tourism destination, improving and expanding product development, creating a world-class infrastructure and drawing up effective marketing plans and programmes.