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India is a land where mysticism, culture and diversity meet modernity and tolerance. Yet, tourism infrastructure in the country is almost non-existent. The Modi Government now has made a pitch to make India a tourist destination for people of the world. Read on to find out more about why tourism is India’s untapped resource.

The Modi Government, for the first time in the history of independent India, is making a strong push to make the country a low-cost tourist destination for people all around the world. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that a huge potential for expansion exists within this industry in India, which can only be achieved by improving basic tourist infrastructure according to world standards.

Today, about 70 lakh tourists come to India every year, but the Government hopes to increase this number by four or five times. Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma’s brief is to have a target of 7 crore tourists every year in five years. Achieving this target means changes in various different fields, not least in modernising airports and improving the highway road and rail networks to facilitate easier travel across the country.

India also needs to explore the ships and cruise segment because more and more tourists are now using that medium to travel. Also, the finance minister said that there is a huge need for budget hotels in the country. Right now, there is a luxury hotel segment, and there are run-down hotels, but there is no middle ground where tourists can pay a middling amount of money and still be assured of a secure and comfortable stay.

There are large numbers of tourist attractions in India – from the natural beauty of the Himalayas, a slew of forests and rivers and waterfalls, not to mention a rich cultural heritage in the form of forts, temples, ruins and monuments. If the right amount of effort was invested into making India a tourist destination, tourism would become one of the main contributors to our annual GDP.

This will also have a side benefit of reviving culture and art in every state of the country, which has its own linguistic and cultural history to preserve. With the increase of tourism in every state, people of that state will get the opportunity to enhance the qualities of their history, which will in turn strengthen the social fabric of India.

Ever since India gained independence, tourism has been the last thing on the minds of the various Governments that have ruled the country. Now, for the first time, a conversation about tourism is being started. We sure hope that this will lead to India being spoken about in the same breath and Europe in coming years.

Brinda Rajkumar Shah

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