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Riveting Times

Tuesday, March 7, 2017, 17:32 Hrs  [IST]

In the globalised world order, everything is denoted by figures, graphs and indices. The days when long treatises were required to explain a situation or a case are a passé. If these statistics really reflect the ground realities, is a different matter altogether. However, if data is to be believed, tourism in India is on a roll, breaking all its previous records.

Hell with Doomsayers! Tourism negated the demonetisation effect and marched forward registering a growth of 14% in international arrivals during December, 2016 and 16% in January, 2017. According to the Transport Bhavan, 2016 was the best year for Indian tourism with an annual growth rate of 11% in tourist arrivals and 15% in tourism receipts, whereas the global average for tourism was not even 4%.

Similarly, the hotel industry in India didn’t reflect a bad performance in 2016, despite mediocre travel sentiment that prevailed globally. According to the India Hotel Review Report, if not for the partial ‘pull back’ in the last 45 days of 2016, the nation-wide occupancies would have even broken the 2007 record. Yet, 2016 was one of the best years with occupancies and average room rates showing a consecutive growth trajectory. The demand across India grew by 12.5% and might notch higher but for the “clear decline” in demand post-demonetisation days, the report says.

The Union Budget 2017-18 also didn’t disappoint the tourism sector totally. Although the key demands of the industry have been largely ignored, there are a couple of interesting proposals to create a demand for Incredible India in the longer term. The intention to act simultaneously on the brand marketing side and infrastructure front was evident in the Budget. The government has shown the will to look beyond the bare basics of PRASAD, HRIDAY, etc. The proposal to set-up five Special Tourism Zones (STZ) with the support of the states, anchored on a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), is a step in the right direction. STZ’s along with proposal to open up uninhabited islands in Andamans and Lakshadweep for tourism development could act as a game changer for Indian tourism in the long term.

While many things can be represented in figures and graphs, what requires a treatise is the unpredictable nature of policies that govern most of the businesses in this country. One such issue is the food service, where the hospitality business is grappling with the recent apex court order banning liquor business on national highways. With only a month away from the implementation of the guidelines, there is utter confusion in the industry about the impact of the diktat. But, of course, I expect to be able to explain its impact six months down the line with clarity!

P Krishna Kumar
Assistant Editor

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