Five-year plan aims to spur India's tourism growth

LONDON -- A World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) project aims to strengthen India's appeal as a leisure and business travel destination.

A dozen of India's leading tourism entities have come together as founding members of the India Tourism Initiative.

One of the goals of the five-year WTTC India Tourism Initiative project, according to officials, is to create a "unified industry voice."

Among the most immediate objectives of the five-year plan are:

  • Liberalization of India's aviation sector -- an open-skies policy.
  • Abolishing entry visa requirements for the top visitor markets (such as the U.K., other European countries and the U.S.) and issuing visas on arrival for the remaining markets.
  • The latter, according to the WTTC, would send a clear signal to the world that India is in the tourism business.

    Other points of emphasis include:

  • Development of a world class infrastructure (water supply, transportation and waste disposal).
  • Making the most of emerging technologies and communications.
  • "India ranks 46th among the world's top 60 tourism destinations, generating only 1% of the global tourism business," said the council's president, Jean-Claude Baumgarten.

    "But given the outstanding wealth of natural resources and rich cultural heritage, a thriving business community and high levels of entrepreneurship, there is a vast opportunity for India to grow its share.

    "This opportunity only can be realized if a fundamentally new approach to tourism development is adopted," he said.

    Baumgarten said the WTTC initiative defines this new approach and the actions required on the part of the government, public and private sectors.

    As proposed, the initiative seeks to bring together the country's top tourism interests in order to accelerate growth.

    It already has identified priority areas and will focus on one of India's states in order to develop a case study of an economy driven by tourism that will be to be reviewed annually.

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