Tourism and India: A Less Cherished Globally Recognised Relation

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Every year the World Tourism Day is celebrated on the 27th of September since 1980. It is celebrated because on this day in 1970 the statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation were adopted. The adoption of these provisions is considered a milestone in global tourism. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how tourism has promoted and diversified the social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.

This year the host to the World Tourism Day is India and the theme is “Tourism and Jobs — A Better Future For All”. 

Tourism’s role in job creation has often been undervalued, even though it generates 10% of world jobs and is included in Sustainable Development Goal 8 for its ability to create decent work.

The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) expects that tourism will continue to grow at an average of 3% annually until 2030. This growth reflects that there has been an increase in access to tourism. It is just because of the decline in the price of transport, especially air transport, and growing middle classes worldwide. Universal Declaration of Human Rights has recognised the Right to Holiday as a basic Human Rights and the improved adoption of labour rights in many countries have also supported the coming of the era of tourism. These factors serve as a backdrop for the pliability shown by tourism in recent years. The sector has experienced almost non-stop growth despite several challenges such as the economic crisis and natural disasters.

Beyond the direct impact, tourism reaches into many other sectors, such as construction, manufacturing and IT services, giving a multiplier effect. It is estimated that every job in the core tourism sector creates about 1.5 additional or indirect jobs in the economy.

Tourism’s contribution to recovery in recession-hit countries has been very important. For example in Spain, tourism—the country’s top export sector—created 120,000 new jobs in 2015, providing direct or indirect employment to a total of 2.3 million people. Although the economic crisis led to a fall in total employment in the European countries, this was not the case for the services sector, including the tourism industries such as accommodation, which has had a continuous growth rate.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the ramparts of Red Fort asked Indians to visit 15 tourist destinations in India instead of going abroad. In his recent visit to the USA, he asked the Indian diaspora to encourage their American friends to visit India. India is a country with huge potential in the tourism industry. 

India is one of the most diverse and colourful countries in the world and is full of historical and cultural heritage. It is the only country where different regions have different climate at the same time. There are 21 official languages and International Data Centre says that more than 1500 languages are spoken in India.

In spite of such huge potential,  the tourism sector in India is still suffering from a gap between education and skills and knowledge needs. The resulting shortages of labour with ‘future-proof’ skills continue to dent our economy and harm job creation prospects. This gap can be bridged with policies that support more opportunities for appropriate industry experience, such as internships or scholarships, along with specialized education and training. Crucially, education institutions must work with industry and governments to address the sector’s talent challenges.

Over the past sixty years after the second world war, this sector has been continuously expanding and diversifying and has become one of the fastest-growing and one of the most important economic sectors in the world. International tourist arrivals worldwide have grown considerably to nearly 1.3 billion today. The tourism sector contributes an estimated 10% of the global GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally.

The government must also support policies that promote decent work in tourism, entrepreneurship, gender equality and youth employment and strengthen the links between tourism and trade policies to promote the access of MSMEs to international markets and global value chains.

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