New Delhi: NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on Thursday said the tourism industry in India should target USD 50 billion revenues by 2022, as the sector has immense multiplier impact in the economy and is one of the biggest drivers of growth and employment.
Speaking at the '15th CII Annual Tourism Summit 2019', Kant said the tourism sector can be one of the biggest drivers of India's economic growth as higher visitor numbers spur employment opportunities.
"It has immense multiplier impact in the economy. Its impact on the direct and indirect job creation is informidable. It is one sector which can greatly create jobs and that is what India needs, growth with jobs.
"India's total earning from tourism was about USD 28.6 billion in 2018. We should target that by 2022 we will go to up to USD 50 billion,' Kant said.
Moreover, in terms of revenue from international tourists, India has only 1.97 per cent share of the total global earnings.
In terms of tourist arrivals (number of people), it is only 1.2 per cent which is very marginal for a huge country like India.
"Therefore we need to take it up to 3.5 per cent from 1.2 per cent so that we reach the tourism revenue target of USD 50 billion by 2022," he said.
On the policy front, Kant said that the government has supported the tourism sector and has reduced GST rates for room tariffs.
The GST (goods and services tax) rate on hotel rooms with tariffs of up to Rs 7,500 per night has been cut to 12 per cent from the existing 18 per cent.
Similarly, the tax on rooms with tariff above Rs 7,500 has been slashed to 18 per cent from the existing 28 per cent.
There will be no GST on rooms with tariffs below Rs 1,000 per night.
He also said that tourism is essentially a private sector activity and every single segment of the sector from the tourist point of arrival to point of departure, tourist operators, travel agent, tourist guides, cab operators, resorts to hotels, everything is operated by the private sector.
He said the government can act as a catalyst and urged the industry body CII to work with industry and state governments and work towards a public private partnership for the tourism industry.
According to CII data, the tourism sector contribution in India has risen to 9.2 per cent at USD 240 billion. It is the third largest foreign exchange earner for the country.
It has supported more than 4.2 crore jobs, giving 8.1 per cent of the total employment.
Chief Exective ITC Hotels and Welcom Hotels and chairman of CII National Committee on Tourism and Hospitality Dipak Haksar said the Indian tourism sector has emerged as one of the key drivers of economic growth.
"Our strategic intent for India is to double its tourist arrivals from 10 to 20 million by 2024," Haksar said.
Tourism secretary Yogendra Tripathi said that as many as 13 million jobs were created during 2014 to 2018 and the government has also rationalised the visa and e-visa systems to promote foreign arrivals in the country.
However, he pointed out that there is a huge challenge with regard to tourist guides in India and the government is making attempts for their training and certification.