FAITH in a detailed multi- stakeholder discussion with the leadership of the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) complimented the efforts of the Ministry on the drafting of the National Tourism Policy which has attempted to incorporate FAITH associations cumulative suggestions over the years and also the suggestions from the tourism vision workshops we had earlier.
Some of the additional headline suggestions discussed and shared with them include the following:
1. Vision & Goal Alignment: The NTP should be aligned and should state upfront our vision targets of 100 mn foreign tourists, 15 bn + domestic tourism visits and 20 crore employed Indians directly and indirectly in line with our pre- discussed national tourism vision of 2047.
2. Duration & Implementability: Intent is only as good as its implementation. Currently the policy document mentions a 10-year duration. However, it is suggested to be a rolling document of 5 years with a quarterly review mechanism with the industry. This will ensure that the policy document is institutionalised and will get upgraded on a rolling basis each 5 years towards the vision 2047 with a quarterly review and feedback mechanism of what is working what is not.
3. Tourism as a National Priority sector: Like agriculture has been a national priority of all successive governments and gets vital focus of the PM & the CMs, tourism too can get due national domestic priority if it is declared as such in the NTP. It’s impact, its footprint across the country is far reaching and is deep rooted in our geographical and cultural fabric across the length and breadth of our country. If recognised as a national priority sector it will ensure tourism will focused channelised domestic investments as such more so needed post this worst 24 months ever.
4. Classification of Concurrent status: The constitution rightfully needs to recognise tourism as a joint and collectible responsibility of centre & states to ensure a shared national vision and development, marketing & skilling synergies among all our individual tourism portfolios across states and segments. Thus, a stated goal of the NTP should be as such to get that status.
5. Treatment at par with merchandise exports: Till today tourism forex contribution to our current account has not been fully recognised in letter despite tourism catering to foreign buyers and foreign exchange earnings. Just as a sample over the past 5 years pre- covid tourism may have contributed to more than $ 100 bn earnings and on a cumulative basis multiple times over since the past many years. The NTP should address this key gap and position tourism as a vital export sector at par with merchandise exports ensuring the due support that it will get in the successive Foreign Trade policies and also ensuring that our taxes whether direct, gst or state level are not exported to foreign buyers. This statement of recognition in the NTP will manifold Indian Tourism’s global competitiveness.
Our tourism export policy should clearly be segmented on the long – haul, short – haul and the VFM segments each of which have different global travel behaviours also what should be our competitive benchmarking strategy for each to maximise our inbound tourism impact and the NTP should clearly articulate this distinction.
6. Segment & State wise targets: India is a sum total of unparalleled unique tourism experiences which exist across segments and states. While the NTP mentions that detailed implementation plans will be made for each segment, it may be prudent to mention headline targets to be achieved for each of our unique segments (mice, adventure, heritage, eco, sea & river cruise, niche sports, etc) and for states (foreign & domestic tourism visits) These can be supported with a brief statement of policy intent & benchmarking strategy for each.
7. Holistic marketing mix targeting the changing tourism consumer: The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change and tourism consumption behaviour will reflect accordingly. It’s now possible to have both a mass market and a targeted social marketing of 1 through a healthy mix of PR, OOH, print, tv and digital marketing in tourism. The NTP should clearly identify this marketing mix and lay down dynamic principles, allocating of budgets and resources accordingly to this market mix.
8. Sensitisation: Tourism is a national responsibility. Each of us is a tourist and the each of us is also a host. It’s important to continually sensitise all policy makers, government functionaries at the national and state levels and also citizens of the criticality and the contribution of tourism and how all our actions must be designed to support this sector. The NTP should lay out the mechanism and budgeting of a targeted sensitisation program on an ongoing basis to ensure tourism and tourism entrepreneurs (travel agents, hoteliers, tour operators, tourist transporters, Destination service providers, guides & facilitators, restaurants, employees) are treated with the due respect that they must get.
9. QCRT: The world is increasingly volatile and any instance can get amplified to the extent of the narrative behind it but impacting first and foremost tourism. Quick crisis response team – QCRT for tourism must be a stated objective of the NTP to proactively counter any negative narrative with a positive narrative of its own with a quick response time.
10. Centres of Excellence: India is perhaps the only country with a billion plus experiences. The tourism world has moved towards experiences and the NTP must encourage a policy statement of COEs. As a policy target 748 district COEs, 28 state COEs, 8 UT COEs and 5 mega national COEs must be encouraged which will at all levels capture uniqueness and diversity of Indian tourism products for both domestic & global tourists.
11. Multi modal hub & spoke development model: Tourism best works in clusters. In line with the national PM Gatishakti program and recognising the unique terrains that India has across all destinations, the NTP should encourage a multi modal cluster-based development approach Integrated air, roads, rail, water or roap way approach for an integrated approach to first mile and last mile development of tourism in and across India.
12. Industry mapping: Tourism is an industry of micro small and medium enterprises who capture the local essence of their region. This also tends to fragment the industry. More than 95% of tourism businesses by volume fall in that category. The NTP should look at supporting these local, regional MSME efforts by mapping them through unique national ids through perhaps a self-certification recognition mode which will not only enable all our tourism MSMEs for support but will also give confidence to tourists in dealing with recognised players.
13. Task Forces: To address multiple issues across central ministries and across states it is suggested that NTP provides the instruments of multiple inter-ministerial and intra state task forces headed by Secretary Tourism. These government – industry task forces need to be task and time based to address all pending issues which currently exist, and which may come up as our NTP enables us to move towards our 100 mn FTA and 15 billion DTV targets.
14. Sustainability & Carrying Capacity: The NTP should lay down the goal of creating all subsequent tourism projects with sustainability and carrying capacity built into the design stage of the project. This will ensure that all tourism development, right from the initial stage is balanced across sustainable development goal.
15. Organisation Structure: The NTP should clearly identify the going forward organisation structure of the MOT to deal with the complete and complex challenges that NTP has to address in movement towards our tourism vision.