India's tourism sector is ripe for development and there are concerted efforts by government and the hospitality industry to best take advantage. Here, Anand Kandadai, the executive vice president at the online travel booking company Cleartrip, talks to The National about the country's ambitions. industry.
The Indian government has big plans to double international tourist arrivals. Where is India in terms of its tourism sector?
I think we are at a very interesting and exciting phase. We've had an incredibly good run over the last three to four years as far as the overall tourism industry is concerned. It's a very valuable player in the India economy.
How have the government initiatives boosted the toursim sector so far?
The inbound industry, for a while, there was a patch of time when I thought the growth was a little slow. But I think at over the last three to four years we're averaging at about 7 to 8 per cent annual growth, which with global tourism economies, from a growth perspective, it is healthy. The e-visa facility is easing coming into India.
What other areas of potential does India have develop to diversify its tourism market?
The scope of meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions as a category is something that is constantly improving.
How is India broadening appeal to new markets for tourism?
In terms of safety, there have been a lot of conversations. Considering the fact that – both domestic and inbound – women travellers are becoming a fairly large segment and that's an important aspect and that's something that is getting addressed.
What other changes do you want to see?
Travel and tourism is largely a state subject and not a central subject, so there is a lot of inconsistency in policies and the way the international markets are being addressed. One of the changes that we want to see is that tourism becomes a central subject and there's a platform where states can participate and go out there and address the international audience as one voice.
How do you see the potential for further and accelerating growth in India?
Yes. I think that the ability to geographically expand air connectivity has a lot of potential that can fuel growth. I think we are well on that journey. I think the execution part is something that we'll all witness over the next few years.