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Harnessing Foreign Tourism As A Force
India has a rich blend of wellness, medical and regular tourism influx but it would be more if it the potential were better harnessed.
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Atithi Devo Bhava, meaning ‘Guests are like Gods’ in Sanksrit, is an old adage of Hinduism that Indians somewhere still believe in. This spirit of Indians mixed with modern education and training in hospitality, makes ours a land of warm services in hotel, aviation, F&B and other industries. Clients and guests can be assured to be treated well in India. I have hardly ever come across people who don’t remember Indians well after their first visit here. This is a huge force and forms the fabric of our strength in minds of foreign nationals. Conceptualization is a matter of imagination and we need to make sure the ‘Indian experience’ is worth remembering so maybe they can cook something for us in the future.
Our first blessing is that we are blessed with varied topography and climates. From deserts to mountains to beaches, we have them all. To add to our blessings is the rich and diverse history enjoyed by our land, which has given us so many monuments in palaces, forts and museums. The strong religious tinge of our various cultures reflects in the variety of deities, and temples, mosques & churches. The hill-stations are breathtaking and beaches simply in abundance. What do we lack?
We lack cleanliness and hygiene. Lack of English speakers makes a large part of travel experience a bummer. Sightings of litter can’t make them imagine coming back with gusto to see a different part. We have so much richness in our monuments and artefacts, that better marketing would draw half the world to see them. From British colonialism era to Mughal times to the time the locals ruled, there is proof available of centuries ago in these standing structures and they carry data of scientific evolutions that occurred right here. We Indians don’t value it enough. Incredible India needs to step it up! Post-COVID era must see us showcasing our wildlife sanctuaries and history more.
We need to strike visa treaties with other countries to allow their citizens visa free visit to our country in exchange for allowance of Indian citizens into their country. We can withhold certain nationalities as are required for our safety but this is a must thing to do. We can allow certain visa holders (eg. United Kingdom visa holders), visas on arrival. These things can cause an India rush which can go a long way in our development as only if people are familiar with a land, will they really bother doing anything there, including establishing trade and commerce. Currently, visa on arrival is only available to citizens of Japan. Doing so will add to ‘Ease of doing business in India’ as well as people can travel frequently and at ease. European Union (EU) gives its Schengen visa for a short duration only and that is ruining it for a lot of economies who aren’t as self-sufficient as others in the body, and longer visa policy could boost their economies, such as Greece and Italy. We must give out longest possible tenure visas as well.
Medical tourism in India, especially in Mumbai and Delhi are, also booming. This could be an added subsector that can serve India well. There is no cannabis or prostitution related tourism in India, as both are illegal in the country. We have a country that is famous for Mumbai’s nightlife, and Goa New Year breaks. Taj Mahal is on the bucket list of people globally and so is Jaipur. Wellness centers and Ayurvedic spas attract people from all corners of the world. Every part of our country is laden with beauty and diversity, we just have to adorn it. We have the largest statue in the world today, and the largest cricket stadium, we have to take pride in them. Our airports are world class and so are our roadways for most part.
People make a place what it is, how it is and what it will hold for its future generations. Our public transportation infrastructure is still work in progress, but soon we shall have a good one. Time will come when one might wish for theme parks like Orlando or casinos like Macau. For now, we have delicious local cuisines to work with.
Overall, India has a rich blend of wellness, medical and regular tourism influx but it would be more if the potential were better harnessed. Automation to replace our manpower is not the answer here but upgrading our standards of maintenance to match the rest of the world, is apt to the point. There is no impact of a country bigger than an experience there, and a good one! India makes for a good well priced holiday.
Result of a positive tourist experience is repeated tourism and then establishing commerce, word of mouth, all stemming from tangible and first-hand experiences. No amount of audio and visual can replace naked eye view. Word around India should be positive after a first-hand experience, that is enough to set off chain reaction about India. According to Statista.com, number of foreign tourists visiting India in were 16.81 million (2017), 17.42 million (2018) and 17.91 million (2019). COVID-19 has stalled traveling to a large degree and this would be a good time to work on our tourism blueprint for the post COVID-19 era.
Crimes committed by foreign nationals in India is negligible and so is illegal migration to India. Tackling any pilferages, right strategy would be to give longer the 10 year visas to all country citizens as opposed to only USA, Japan and Canada. Same applies for Business Visas, where we have South Africa and United Kingdom citizens (in addition to US, Japan and Canada) given a 10 year allowance and rest of the countries with a 5 year allowance. Every bit matters when it comes to promoting influx of people into India, who bring in foreign exchange and will talk about it so their future generations visit. In today’s day and age of social media, every picture in India is visible to average 338 friends on Facebook(average number of Facebook friends), and an average of 150 on Instagram.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.
The author is Managing Director of Enso Group. He resides in Mumbai. He holds an undergraduate degree in business from Carnegie Mellon University and a postgraduate diploma in global business from Oxford University.More From The Author >>