Tourism as a Harbinger of economic growth

Dr. D. Mukhopadhyay
India is one of the prominent ancient countries and civilizations of the world. She is the confluence of diverse socio-cultural land for which rest of the world has interest to know her with deeper perspective. India is a country where anybody can experience the absolute degree of calmness of the Himalayas on one hand and enjoy the beauty of long coastal sea beach around the mighty oceans. India is the sum up of twenty nine States and seven Union Territories and each of them is characterized with distinct topography, heritage and culture. Contribution of India as one of the important countries of the world to the cause of peace and harmony is enormous. Yet India is still recognized as one of the developing economies in the globe. She suffers from low rate of economic growth, burden of huge population and consequently mass unemployment. Inclusive economic growth is difficult to achieve unless every qualified jobseeker is gainfully employed in different trades in accordance with capability and potential possessed by them. Employment is an important factor for promotion of economic growth of the country. It may be observed that dependence of the world economy has gradually been shifting to service sector from that manufacturing and agricultural sectors. There are many countries in the world whose lion share of Domestic Gross Product (GDP) comes from service sector. Tourism may be considered to be one of the major segments of service sector of India since it has enormous potential for generation of employment and consequently it can contribute to the cause of economic development of the country.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) are of the view that tourism can be one of the world’s top job creators and perhaps the same is aptly applicable to India who is attributed with five thousand years old human civilization. The ability of tourism sector of the national economy to generate employment opportunities for the less-skilled group of people may be considered to be an important factor if its true potential is explored and tapped properly for securing a rapid economic growth of the nation. This sector of the economy does possess higher degree of prospect to stimulate other sectors and as a result there shall be spillover effect in the economy. The consumption demand derived from tourists expenditure is able to generate more employment. Though certain kind of importance of tourism sector is felt by the Government but potential of tourism sector as a contributor to the cause of economic development is yet to be explored in effective sense. Any spending committed by the tourists enables this sector to create employment as other sectors of the economy shall be required to supply inputs to the tourism sector in terms of hospitality, accommodation, transport, entertainment and any other incidental allied services. Tourism sector is one of the prominent sources of earning foreign exchanges for India. This sector has tremendous contributory strength in order to be signified as tourism industry. Tourism needs to be given adequate attention by all the States in general and by the State of Jammu & Kashmir in particular. The State of Jammu and Kashmir is known to be the Paradise of the Earth because of its natural beauty. Jammu and Kashmir has a special place in the room of tourism industry and tourism itself has huge potential for contributing to the cause of economic progress of the State. As it has been mentioned earlier that India has inherited diverse and rich cultural heritage from her glorious past, sustainable economic development is possible through promoting tourism. Survival , growth, development and sustainability of economic progress is possible through tourism to a significant extent for which this industry needs to have moderate quantum of investment to attract tourists and of course, strategic thinking. Political, economic, social and technological factors are required to be examined in order to give a result fetching shape to the tourism industry. These factors affect the performance of any business and tourism is not an exception to it. Long-term growth and sustainability of tourism industry can definitely influence the growth rate of other sectors of the national economy. It may be observed that tourism was comparatively given less attention and weightage as was necessary for its promotion after independence. There is dearth of private investment in tourism sector and whatever has been achieved so far is due to government patronage by and large. Tourism is an integral part of human civilization and it is an inherent instinct of an individual to be a tourist and therefore less marketing effort is able to create the market for tourism.
The tourism industry can act as important catalyst in the process of socio-economic progress of both rural and urban areas. Tourism industry can help in poverty reduction and raising standard of living of the people around the tourists spots . It has been seen in various research studies that tourism sector is currently contributing about seven to eight percent of GDP of the country and it can contribute substantially much higher percentage of GDP if the State Governments and the Central Government together adopt the promotional measures by framing suitable developmental strategies . Resources under the command and control of the State Governments are limited as compared with that of the Central Government and thus the Central Government should shoulder more responsibility for bringing about development of tourism industry. The most important resource for promotion of service sector is people and therefore both the State Governments and the Central Government should come forward for making adequate provisions for training and development of people having interest in joining tourism industry for earning livelihood and preferring tourism as a career option. Tourism industry can provide employment to both unskilled and skilled labor force. Universities should offer opportunities for formal education in the domain of tourism and play a significant role in skill development and development of tourism industry management professionals. Though several Universities are playing an important role in providing tourism management education in the country but it is quite insignificant for meeting the demand of the industry.
The first Tourism Policy was announced by Government of India in 1982 which provided for the action plan for tourists’ arrival and necessary facilities to be extended to them. Again Government of India had appointed a Committee on National Tourism in 1988 and this committee mainly focused its attention on public sector for development of tourism industry in India. The Central Government revisits its tourism policy from time to time but it is an imperative to invite private sector participation and foreign investment in this sector of the economy in order to expand the domain of tourism industry. The policy makers are recommended to take a note that tourism industry has been suffering from shortage of professionally qualified and skilled personnel, shortage of training institutes, shortage of qualified trainers and almost primitive working conditions for the employees. The Government should act a catalyst instead of being stringent regulator of the industry.
(The Author is Professor of Management, School of Business, Faculty of Management, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra, Jammu & Kashmir.)


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