Nakul Anand, Chairman Faith (Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality) and Executive Director ITC Ltd in his address on the first ever India Tourism Vision Day laid out a roadmap to take industry stakeholders through the opportunities and challenges that confront Indian tourism. Not just its future – but its present.
Nakul Anand commenced his address quite appropriately with the start of the Travel industry’s co-ordinated efforts to strengthen India’s position as a preferred global destination. He shared, “When FAITH was launched in 2013, Indian Tourism was ranked 68th at the World Economic Forum Tourism Competitiveness study. FAITH along with the support of the Ministry of Tourism worked on many initiatives to better this rank.
“In the 2019 World Economic Forum Tourism Competitiveness study, India achieved the 34th rank.
“Over the past 7 years, the FAITH Associations, their Executive Committees across the country worked very hard with their respective state governments and with the central government to undertake countless initiatives to double the global tourism competitiveness ranking of our country. From 68 to 34 is a giant leap but we still have a long way to go. We endeavour to take it to the next level!
“Our first goal is to move India into the Top 20 ranks in Global Tourism Competitiveness in 5 years post Covid and then make our place in the top 10 ranks of World Tourism Competitiveness ranking in the next five years.”
Nakul Anand observed, “Indian Tourism is estimated to account for between 9 – 10% of India’s GDP on a direct & indirect basis. In the post- Covid ‘normal’ as our country moves towards the stated goal of becoming a $ 5 trillion dollar economy, our vision is to have a Tourism economic footprint of $ 500 bn. That would more than double the economic footprint of tourism from what it is today.
“This would unleash major employment growth for India.
“Our industry has the potential to double the jobs that tourism influences from around 5 crores currently to over 10 crores.
Each segment of our Tourism industry is committed to this goal. The way forward will entail contribution from each member association. We have a vision for each of our verticals and on the occasion of India Tourism Vision Day, the Presidents of the 10 FAITH Associations will share the same with you shortly.”
Posing a critical question on survival, Nakul Anand stated, “While we remain optimistic of the growth in Indian Tourism and its role in serving national priorities, the question today is of the industry’s survival to the post – Covid next normal. This is the worst crisis ever to hit the tourism and hospitality industry, a crisis worse than the economic depression, the World Wars and 9/11.
“Never in modern history have countries had to ask citizens around the world to stay home, curb travel and keep physical distance.
“Lenin rightly said, there are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen.
“We stand at the threshold of a New Normal, witnessing the birth of a society with an unaccustomed relationship to the community and a new tryst with Humanity.
The world now has a much sharper definition of what constitutes a Black Swan event.”
Laying emphasis on the impact of Covid-19 on Tourism, Nakul Anand pointed out, “As an industry we were the first to be affected and will be the last to recover. Travel is all about the movement of people and so is the spread of the virus.
“Each vertical of our tourism industry is under deep stress – travel agents, hotels, tour operators, tourist transporters, restaurants, guides, destinations …the list is endless. The RBI risk survey, the Income tax & GST collections data, the GDP data all have repeatedly highlighted our industry’s plight.
“Some months back I had outlined Survival, Revival & Thrival: the three phased recovery of Indian Tourism.
“From now, till the time the vaccine is deployed we need to sustain tourism and the service talent that forms the core of this industry.”
Voicing the stakeholders concerns, Nakul Anand outlined the way forward: “How is this possible? We believe this will be best served by our request for a Tourism Covid -19 Fund set up by the Ministry of Tourism where interest free funds are given to support the employees and the operating costs of tourism companies.
“This could be done through a direct benefit transfer against their pan cards and GST identities. It is People who create memories for others, not things. The real value comes from the service givers who bring tourism to life.
“The Tourism industry has been identified as one of 26 most stressed industries by the RBI expert committee, eligible for restructuring. We thus need to ensure that an across the board moratorium is made immediately applicable for tourism enterprises till March 2022 or till complete recovery happens and there should be no interest on interest during that period.
“As we restart tourism from a zero base today across all our verticals, we need revival policies in terms of GST correction, export status, infrastructure status, industry status, secured refunds, SEIS.”
Rounding off his address, Nakul Anand stated, “These are the fundamental enablers of putting Indian tourism economy back on track. Finally, we believe, just like the way the GST Council is structured, Indian Tourism too needs to be structured through a constitutionally empowered legislative body -A National Tourism Council comprising all relevant ministries and all Chief Ministers.
“This will enable fast track Centre-State level Tourism decision making and work on a ‘One India One Tourism’ approach leveraging and utilising full synergies of India’s Tourism potential across all our states. This will raise the decibels for going Vocal with Local.
“In line with Made in India, our vision is Tourism – Made in India , to make India one of the most preferred Tourism destinations both for domestic and international tourists offering best in class tourism experiences, infrastructure & services right here in India.”
In conclusion, Nakul Anand reiterated, “We are confident that both Central and State governments are fully aware and committed to our tourism potential and the benefits it reaps for the economy and we are extremely grateful for their continued support and guidance.
“We are the next growth driver for India and like the white revolution, the green revolution and the digital revolution, the time now, is for a Tourism revolution – leading to GDP growth, forex earnings and job creation.
But for that we need to survive to revive.”
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